Two independent anti-war candidates, who have both lost sons serving in the army in Iraq, challenged New Labour at the polls.
Reg Keys took 10.3 percent of the vote in Tony Blair’s Sedgefield constituency. Rose Gentle won 3.2 percent standing against armed forces minister Adam Ingram in East Kilbride, Scotland.
Reg Keys, a member of the Military Families Against the War campaign, lost his son Tom in Iraq.
At the count he made a moving speech dedicating what he called “a remarkable campaign” to the 88 British soldiers killed in Iraq so far.
“I don’t claim to be a professional politician — fighting this campaign was not an easy task. But I had to do it for my son.”
To applause in the hall, Reg added, “He was sent to war in extremely controversial circumstances.
“If this war had been justified by international law, I would have grieved, not campaigned. And if weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, I would have grieved, not campaigned.”
In front of Blair, who appeared shaken at the count, Reg said, “Tonight there are lessons to be learned.
“I hope in my heart that one day the prime minister will be able to say sorry.”
Blair should apologise to the bereaved families of those killed in Iraq and visit the wounded in hospital, Reg said. He added that all the people who had voted for him had “sent a clear message” about the Iraq war.
Rose Gentle’s son Gordon was killed in Iraq last year. Now she is campaigning to bring all the British troops home from Iraq.
She received 1,513 votes, 3.2 percent of the total. Rose told Socialist Worker, “I spent all of the campaign speaking about Iraq.
“This result shows that a lot of people are disgusted with the war. I took a number of votes from Labour.
“The campaign went really well and we are proud of what we have achieved.
“I have raised the profile of Military Families Against the War. The people of East Kilbride have been great. The next stage is to campaign for an independent public inquiry into the Iraq war.”
For more on Military Families Against the War, go to www.mfaw.org.uk