SNP mark 10 years since Holyrood Iraq debate

Ten years to the day on from a key Holyrood debate on 13 March 2003 in the run up to the Iraq war, the Scottish National Party has highlighted the lessons that must be learnt from the conflict.

In particular, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has been pressed to make clear whether she accepts that she got her stance on the conflict badly wrong. While the debate split the Labour ranks, Johann Lamont made clear her support for Tony Blair's plans to invade, arguing in the debate that “we must acknowledge that there may be serious reasons why we must go to war.”

Despite the horrendous loss of life that has scarred Iraq since the fateful decision to invade, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found because they were not there, even though the case for war was based on their presence.

A decade on from the illegal conflict which has claimed tens of thousands of lives and which proved to be based on a sexed up dodgy dossier, Johann Lamont has been challenged to reveal whether she accepts that she was wrong to back Tony Blair's empty case.

Commenting, SNP MSP and former Cabinet Secretary Bruce Crawford said:

“It is exactly ten years to the day since the Scottish Parliament debated the Iraq war, and this is an appropriate time to look back and learn from the appalling mistakes and distortions that led the UK into an illegal conflict that came at very high human cost.

“It is striking from the debate ten years ago that, amongst the Labour ranks, Johann Lamont was supportive of Tony Blair and George Bush’s determination to invade. It was a remarkable position for her to hold, putting herself in direct opposition to the millions of people at home and abroad who marched in vain to get the message across: not in our name.

"The only support Johann Lamont and the majority of her fellow Labour MSPs received 10 years ago came from the Tories - they were clearly wrong together.

“We now know that those of us who raised our voices in opposition to the conflict were proven right. There were no weapons of mass destruction to disarm, and it was wrong to defy the authority of the United Nations. The entire illegal war was built upon a premise that was simply untrue, rendering it the UK's biggest foreign policy misadventure since Suez.

“With the benefit of hindsight, does Johann Lamont today accept that she got it very badly wrong in supporting a war that saw such appalling loss of life - bearing in mind that there were a number of Labour MSPs then who did not toe Tony Blair's line, such as Susan Deacon, Bill Butler, Pauline McNeill and John McAllion.

“Johann Lamont should explain why she put Westminster’s determination to invade ahead of the views of people in Scotland and around the world who opposed the Blair/Bush war.

“The most striking lesson of all from the conflict is that never again should Scotland find itself dragged into illegal conflicts by Westminster governments - that requires achieving the powers of independence, which is why a Yes vote in next autumn's referendum is so important."

During the debate on 13 March 2003 on the coming Iraq war, Johann Lamont said:
“Even if we do not trust the motives of the American Administration, we must acknowledge that there may be serious reasons why we must go to war.
“Unlike some, I do not have a Pooterish self-importance on this matter. I ask people to reflect on what was said in Westminster by Ann Clwyd, who is not a Blair clone or a Johnny-come-lately to the debate but someone who has reflected on these serious issues and who says that we must go.”

During another debate on 16 January 2003 on the coming Iraq war, Johann Lamont said:
“Does Tommy Sheridan agree that the troubling lesson from North Korea lies in the dangers that result when a nation has developed a nuclear capacity? The lesson that we should take from the North Korean situation is that we must act against Saddam Hussein now if he has weapons of mass destruction, as a time will come when Iraq's having such weapons will create a danger for the entire international community.”
Following the debate on 13 March 2003, the key vote demonstrating MSPs’ stances on the Iraq war was on John McAllion’s amendment. Had the amendment passed, the motion as amended would have read “that the Parliament believes that no case for military action against Iraq has been proven”.

The following current MSPs voted against John McAllion’s anti-war amendment:
Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)
Boyack, Sarah (Edinburgh Central) (Lab)
Chisholm, Malcolm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab)
Eadie, Helen (Dunfermline East) (Lab)
Ferguson, Patricia (Glasgow Maryhill) (Lab)
Fergusson, Alex (South of Scotland) (Con)
Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)
Goldie, Miss Annabel (West of Scotland) (Con)
Grant, Rhoda (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)
Gray, Iain (Edinburgh Pentlands) (Lab)
Johnstone, Alex (North-East Scotland) (Con)
Lamont, Johann (Glasgow Pollok) (Lab)
Macdonald, Lewis (Aberdeen Central) (Lab)
Macintosh, Mr Kenneth (Eastwood) (Lab)
Martin, Paul (Glasgow Springburn) (Lab)
McGrigor, Mr Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
McLetchie, David (Lothians) (Con)
McMahon, Michael (Hamilton North and Bellshill) (Lab)
McNeil, Mr Duncan (Greenock and Inverclyde) (Lab)
Murray, Dr Elaine (Dumfries) (Lab)
Scanlon, Mary (Highlands and Islands) (Con)
Scott, John (Ayr) (Con)
Simpson, Dr Richard (Ochil) (Lab)

The following current MSPs voted in favour of John McAllion’s anti-war amendment:
Adam, Brian (North-East Scotland) (SNP)
Crawford, Bruce (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP)
Cunningham, Roseanna (Perth) (SNP)
Ewing, Fergus (Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber) (SNP)
Fabiani, Linda (Central Scotland) (SNP)
Gibson, Mr Kenneth (Glasgow) (SNP)
Grahame, Christine (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Hyslop, Fiona (Lothians) (SNP)
Ingram, Mr Adam (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Lochhead, Richard (North-East Scotland) (SNP)
MacAskill, Mr Kenny (Lothians) (SNP)
MacDonald, Margo (Lothians) (Ind)
Marwick, Tricia (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP)
Matheson, Michael (Central Scotland) (SNP)
McLeod, Fiona (West of Scotland) (SNP)
Neil, Alex (Central Scotland) (SNP)
Paterson, Mr Gil (Central Scotland) (SNP)
Robison, Shona (North-East Scotland) (SNP)
Russell, Michael (South of Scotland) (SNP)
Scott, Tavish (Shetland) (LD)
Smith, Elaine (Coatbridge and Chryston) (Lab)
Stevenson, Stewart (Banff and Buchan) (SNP)
Sturgeon, Nicola (Glasgow) (SNP)
Swinney, Mr John (North Tayside) (SNP)
White, Ms Sandra (Glasgow) (SNP)

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