A British government architect of the Iraq war has demolished prime minister Tony Blair's case for the unpopular policy by admitting she was wrong to provide him and other colleagues with key legal advice which gave the green light for the US-led invasion.
Harriet Harman, the second in charge of the new Ministry of Justice, co-authored with Attorney General Lord Goldsmith the controversial recommendation to the Cabinet which signalled the go-ahead for the military attack on Iraq, without the explicit authorisation of the UInited Nations Security Council.
But on Sunday Harman, one of six contenders for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party stunned a hustings meeting of party members in Sheffield by telling them:
- I would not have voted for the invasion of Iraq if I had know there were no weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). We were wrong on that - there were no WMDs. We have to admit that.
- After the troops return we should have an enquiry which looks not just at the decision to go in but also the planning for the immediate post-invasion period
- We should encourage a debate in Britain about our relationship with the US. I regard them as important allies - but we must always do what is in our interests and is in the interest of peace and security in the world.
- We should never forget the tragic loss of life in Iraq - our service men and women and Iraqi civilians. But nor should we forget the lives saved by UK armed intervention in Sierra Leone, Kosovo and lives saved through our Aid programme for the developing world.
The dramatic 'u' turn was re-affirmed in a posting on a special blog set up by Harman to boost her bid to become Labour's deputy leader.
A majority of party members in Harman's own Camberwell and Peckham, south London, parliamentary seat are against the war and have been attempting to get the MP to follow their democratic wishes - which she has refused to do on the issue in order to keep her plum government job.
As recently as October 31 2006, Harman voted in parliament against the setting up of an inquiry into the illegal invasion. Now, as Labour's deputy leadership contest hots up, she says she is AGAINST the war and FOR an inquiry.
A leading supporter of Chancellor Gordon Brown, Harman's questioning of the UK's 'special relationship' with America may well indicate that the prime minister in waiting plans a crucial pro-Europe change in foreign policy.
The-Latest demands to know from Harman why she won't now join the anti-war movement's call for a withdrawal of British troops from Iraq? America's Democrats, who are the politically closest to the British Labour Party, have given president George Bush a clear time-table for the pull-out of US forces.Technorati Profile