A CAMPAIGN to hold Tony Blair to account for the war on Iraq is gathering steam with the finalising of a parliamentary motion to “impeach” the prime minister.
The charges against Blair—that he lied to parliament and the public over the war—are contained in a document, A Case to Answer, drawn up by academics Glen Rangwala and Dan Plesch.
Rangwala exposed how Blair’s second “dodgy dossier”, supposedly proving Iraq was a threat, was based on a decade old student thesis.
Adam Price, Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East & Dinefwr, is spearheading the initiative to impeach Blair.
Price told Socialist Worker, “First we were told there was no point in attempting to do it because there was no way the parliamentary authorities would allow it.
“But now we have got their agreement that the motion is in order.
“Impeachment proceedings of a prime minister have happened before—against Lord Palmerston in the 19th century over signing secret agreements that took us to war.
“In the US, when confronted with the crimes of President Nixon in the 1970s, people resurrected the impeachment procedure, which had not been used for a century.
“Now people are saying there is no point doing it because there will not be enough support in parliament. But that depends on how many MPs speak up.”
So far 23 MPs have signed the motion to set up a parliamentary committee to investigate impeachment. They include members of Plaid Cymru, the Scottish National Party, Respect’s George Galloway, Liberal Democrat Jenny Tonge (who was sacked from her front bench for speaking in defence of the Palestinians), and some Tories.
But at the start of this week not one Labour MP had signed up.
“We really want to get as many MPs signing this as possible,” says Adam Price.
“I understand the pressure some Labour MPs will be under. But I’d appeal to them to join up.
“There are seven anti-war Labour MPs who are standing down at the next election. There’s very little pressure the party hierarchy can put on them.
“Although we technically only need one MP to put down the motion, we’d like a big cross-section of parliament behind it.
“The campaign isn’t only in parliament. It’s outside too. There’s a growing interest in a petition supporting impeachment.
“We’re asking people to contact their MP and ask them to support the move.
“The impact of the attack on Fallujah and the casualties suffered by the Black Watch has been to highlight feeling against the war.
“Very many backbench Labour MPs, especially from Scotland, will admit that privately.
“It’s more vital than ever that people make a public stand.
“Whether people feel able to sign up to impeach Blair or not, they have to do something.”
The impeachment motion
That a select committee be appointed to investigate and to report to the House on the conduct of the prime minister in relation to the war against Iraq, and in particular:
(a) The conclusion of the Iraq Survey Group that in March 2003 Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction and had been essentially free of them since the mid-1990s.
(b)The Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that he was wrong when he asserted that Iraq was then in possession of chemical or biological weapons or was then engaged in active efforts to develop nuclear weapons or was thereby a current or serious threat to the UK national interest, or that possession of WMD then enabled Iraq to inflict real damage upon the region and the stability of the world.
(c) The opinion of the secretary general of the UN that the invasion of Iraq was unlawful.
(d) Whether there exist sufficient grounds to impeach the Rt Hon Tony Blair.
Alas, poor Warwick—Blair decides war comes first
BLAIR’S ADVISERS told the press last weekend that he has given up on trying to “draw a line” under Iraq.
Instead he will try to justify the war and occupation in the run-up to next May’s expected general election.
That was followed by home secretary David Blunkett declaring that Al Qaida are “on our doorstep”.
John Rees, national secretary of Respect, told Socialist Worker:
“The announcement by Blair’s advisers that he cannot draw a line under the issue of Iraq is a major achievement by the anti-war movement in Britain. But there is also a danger here.
“Labour are going to fight the next general election on the politics of fear. They are copying George Bush’s attempt to use the threat of terrorism to scare people into voting for a pro-war policy.
“What this shows is that the Warwick agreement with the trade unions over the summer to get back to the domestic agenda is in tatters.
“The message from Blair is that it’s not Warwick but war.
“The only party standing in the next election which will defend the welfare state and trade union rights—and which will oppose the war and the occupation of Iraq—is the Respect coalition.”
Labour fears that it is losing support to Respect surfaced at a recent two-day meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee.
The minutes read, “There was a sense that we need to use the coming months to rebuild our alliances with the trade unions and ethnic minorities.
“This would involve building on the agreement reached at Warwick and working to regain those Muslim voters we had lost to the Liberal Democrats and, to a lesser extent, Respect.”
But emphasising Blair’s role in backing Bush’s war flies in the face of that strategy.
For details go to www.impeachblair.org