Jackie Ashley's theory
Jackie Ashley puts forward a theory yesterday that the Iraq War "destroyed progressive politics in Britain for a generation" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/31/new-labour-iraq-destroyed-progressive).
This would have some credibility were it not for one very big, unfortunate fact. There has already been a General Election since the Iraq War, and at a time in 2005 when the war was a far more resonant and current issue. The man who led us into the war, Tony Blair, also led Labour into that General Election. Far from the 2005 General Election destroying Labour or progressive politics, it resulted in an unprecedented third victory for Blair and New Labour, with a result that was in terms of seats the fifth best in the hundred plus-year history of the Labour Party. Not just that but it left Labour holding such unlikely bastions as Hastings & Rye, Hove and South Dorset, none of which Harold Wilson or Clem Attlee had been able to take in their heyday.
The biggest obstacle to progressive politics getting over the trauma of the Iraq War is the determination of some of Blair's critics to personalise their disagreement over a policy decision - yes a contentious, life-or-death decision but still a policy decision; their refusal to accept that people who supported the war did so in good faith, believing what they were doing was morally right (oh, and legal); and their insistence on re-fighting the political battles of 2003 rather than looking at the question of where Iraq is now as a country and what needs to happen there next. I can understand some people's passionate opposition to the war. I cannot understand why they can't move on and get over it (will they still be defining their politics by opposition to a 2003 war in twenty years, or thirty?), or why they choose this one aspect of Blair's premiership to define him by. It is very odd that people on the left can feel more angry about Blair, and felt more excited and joyful about getting rid of him than they felt anger about Saddam or excitement and joy about his removal from power.