UK to apologise for Iraq war if Corbyn PM — and charge Blair with war crimes

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Jeremy Corbyn has electrified the British political debate and set the Blairite neoliberals in 'New Labour' and the pro-austerity City of London squealing

Hated by the establishment, anti-austerity and anti-war candidate for the British Labour leadership, Jeremy Corbyn, send chills down whatever passes for Tony Blair's spine. Dierdre Fulton from Common Dreams reports.

Twelve years after he voted against UK involvement in the Iraq war, Labour Party leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has said that if elected, he will apologise to the British people for the "deception" in the run-up to the 2003 invasion and to the Iraqi people for their subsequent suffering.

As Corbyn wrote in a statement to the Guardian:

'It is past time that Labour apologised to the British people for taking them into the Iraq war on the basis of deception and to the Iraqi people for the suffering we have helped cause. Under our Labour, we will make this apology.' 

With him as leader, he said the party

"... will never make the same mistake again, will never flout the United Nations and international law."

The Guardian notes:

"This effectively rules out Labour under Corbyn from supporting David Cameron’s government in a proposed House of Commons vote to expand to Syria the current UK air strikes in Iraq against Islamic State."

Polls continue to show Corbyn, whose surging candidacy seen as a backlash against what Guardian columnist Seumas Milne described as 'a disastrous austerity regime', in the lead.

Milne wrote on Thursday:

'Corbyn represents a break with City-backed austerity and a powerful commitment to public investment. Add to that his opposition to Trident renewal and endless British warmaking, and the challenge he represents to the establishment consensus is obvious enough.'

Earlier this month, Corbyn suggested former Prime Minister Tony Blair should stand trial on charges of war crimes if the evidence suggests he broke international law by sending British troops into Iraq.

Said Corbyn:

"It was an illegal war. I am confident about that."

Blair, who has been strident in his opposition to Corbyn's candidacy, did not apologise when he gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry into the war in 2011, issuing only an expression of regret for the loss of life. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband, whose resignation spurred the current leadership race, did not apologize either, though in 2010 he described the war as "wrong."

Meanwhile, the former adviser to president George W. Bush, Karl Rove, also refused to apologise in April when pressed by a U.S. Iraq war veteran at a speaking event.

In his statement, Corbyn said:

'As a party, we found ourselves in the regrettable position of being aligned with one of the worst right-wing governments in U.S. history, even as liberal opinion in the U.S. was questioning the headlong descent into war.'

Ballot papers were sent out on August 14; voting can take place by post or online. All ballots must be returned by September 10, and the result of the vote will be announced on September 12.

This story was originally published in Common Dreams on 21/8/15 under the title 'With Corbyn at Helm, Labour Party Would Apologize for Iraq War' and has been republished under a Creative Commons licence. 

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