We don't want to go back to the bad old days

April 11, 2005 ,

WHEN the final Commons vote on whether Britain should go to war in Iraq took place on March 18 2003, 17 Welsh MPs voted in favour, seven voted against, and 10 abstained.
Here, Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan, who abstained on the final vote but supported the rebel amendment that was defeated earlier that evening, explains his position.

“The decision to go to war in Iraq was one I voted against along with a majority of backbench Welsh Labour MPs.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator, who used weapons of mass destruction on his own citizens. His downfall is very welcome, but I still do not believe that the military action was right.

What I can't accept, is that disagreement on the war is a reason to risk the return of the Tory government led by Michael Howard, not least here in Wales.

Those who doubt that it would make much difference should think again.

When Michael Howard was Employment Secretary, unemployment in Wales rose from 80,000 to 120,000 and now it is fewer than 40,000 people.

That is the difference between a government that believed unemployment was a price worth paying and one that believes in full employment.

Under the Tories, John Redwood voluntarily returned £100m which could have been spent on Welsh public services.
Oliver Letwin's plans would be like John Redwood on warp drive, taking £2bn out of the record Assembly investment in public services.

The Howard Flight affair has exposed the depth of the Tories secret agenda of even more savage cuts.
It also shows how Labour has changed the terms of trade in UK politics.

Flight's words represent mainstream orthodox Thatcherite thinking, which before 1997 would have made him a Tory hero.
Now he has been sacked as a Tory MP for simply stating what Tories really believe.

For those who ask what difference Labour has made, here is the clear evidence.
In 2005 a Tory MP cannot even discuss doing what Mrs Thatcher would have thought was basic Tory doctrine without getting the sack.

The Conservatives now even pretend to believe in what Labour is doing on Africa and international development when they decimated the aid budget in power.

Those who think they can punish Tony Blair over the war by voting against Labour risk a lot.
It is Welsh constituents, not Tony Blair, who will really suffer if having a flutter on May 5 brings the Tories back.

All of us will disagree with the Labour government from time to time, but at this general election the real choice is between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, or Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin.

Any other vote risks a return to the dark days of cuts to public services and economic failure for Wales.”