Short says Iraqi lives must have equal value

By staff writers
28 Jul 2003

Short says Iraqi lives must have equal value

-28/7/03

Clare Short has warned that whilst questions must be answered following the death of the MoD adviser Dr David Kelly, to forget the thousands of Iraqi civilians who died in the Iraq war would be to fail to give equal value to all human life.

Speaking to the Independent newspaper the former secretary of state for international development said; "The spat between Alastair Campbell and the BBC is just a game. He [Dr Kelly] got caught up in all the turbulence."

But she added: "Dr Kelly's death is a complete tragedy. If we all say that and never talk about all the Iraqi civilians who died - between 5,000 and 8,000 - then I think we don't give equal value to all human life."

The resignation of Clare Short before the Iraq war brought a mixed response from Christian pressure groups. Aid agencies praised her as a "forthright campaigner" whilst pro-life groups said that she departure would ìnot be mournedî, because her respect for the equal value of human life did not extend to the lives of unborn children.

Clare Short has however also won praise for being a constant critic of ìspinî even when the Labour party was in opposition.

The former secretary of state for international development in now insisting that the BBC had a "duty" to run the story which sparked the war of words with Downing Street, even if Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter, "spiced it up a little". And the BBC was right not to disclose its source, she says.

Ms Short believes the row is a diversion. Lord Hutton's inquiry into Dr Kelly's death, must be thorough, she says, she insists the nation must return to the "real questions": was the intelligence about Iraq's WMD exaggerated? Was there an imminent threat that justified the rush to war? Why was Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector, not given more time? Were we deceived about France's position?

Ms Short believes Mr Blair used "half-truths and deceit" because he had convinced himself it would be bad for the world if the US went to war in Iraq alone. "I don't think a country can go to war because one individual makes that kind of analysis then misleads the Cabinet, Parliament and the country into what we are doing. But I think he thought it was an honourable thing to do."

The reason for the deception, she is sure, is that the Prime Minister had agreed a "pre-ordained date for war" with President George Bush. Mr Blair should have insisted the US first win full backing from the UN. "He did not have the guts to say, 'Sorry, if you go now, we are not with you'. That would have been his legacy, a fantastically proud role for Britain."

Alastair Campbell's exit, she hopes, will lead to a thorough overhaul of decision-making structures so they are broadened beyond a coterie inside No 10. "If Alastair chose to go, and that led to a determination to put back in place a decent, decision-making structure, it would be a good thing for this country."

The Government, she says, is living proof of Marshall McLuan's thesis that the medium is the message. "What you are going to say in the media leads the policy, rather than careful analysis of the merits before a decision, then thinking of how to present it. It is all led by what is said to the media; that leads to this superficiality."

But spin is not just Mr Campbell's creation, she says, "It is Tony's way of doing it." Perhaps it is just modern politics, with actors becoming politicians and politicians acting. She conceded; "It is a phenomenon that goes wider than Tony Blair."

Clare Short has warned that whilst questions must be answered following the death of the MoD adviser Dr David Kelly, to forget the thousands of Iraqi civilians who died in the Iraq war would be to fail to give equal value to all human life.

Speaking to the Independent newspaper the former secretary of state for international development said; "The spat between Alastair Campbell and the BBC is just a game. He [Dr Kelly] got caught up in all the turbulence."

But she added: "Dr Kelly's death is a complete tragedy. If we all say that and never talk about all the Iraqi civilians who died - between 5,000 and 8,000 - then I think we don't give equal value to all human life."

The resignation of Clare Short before the Iraq war brought a mixed response from Christian pressure groups. Aid agencies praised her as a "forthright campaigner" whilst pro-life groups said that she departure would ìnot be mournedî, because her respect for the equal value of human life did not extend to the lives of unborn children.

Clare Short has however also won praise for being a constant critic of ìspinî even when the Labour party was in opposition.

The former secretary of state for international development in now insisting that the BBC had a "duty" to run the story which sparked the war of words with Downing Street, even if Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter, "spiced it up a little". And the BBC was right not to disclose its source, she says.

Ms Short believes the row is a diversion. Lord Hutton's inquiry into Dr Kelly's death, must be thorough, she says, she insists the nation must return to the "real questions": was the intelligence about Iraq's WMD exaggerated? Was there an imminent threat that justified the rush to war? Why was Hans Blix, the UN's chief weapons inspector, not given more time? Were we deceived about France's position?

Ms Short believes Mr Blair used "half-truths and deceit" because he had convinced himself it would be bad for the world if the US went to war in Iraq alone. "I don't think a country can go to war because one individual makes that kind of analysis then misleads the Cabinet, Parliament and the country into what we are doing. But I think he thought it was an honourable thing to do."

The reason for the deception, she is sure, is that the Prime Minister had agreed a "pre-ordained date for war" with President George Bush. Mr Blair should have insisted the US first win full backing from the UN. "He did not have the guts to say, 'Sorry, if you go now, we are not with you'. That would have been his legacy, a fantastically proud role for Britain."

Alastair Campbell's exit, she hopes, will lead to a thorough overhaul of decision-making structures so they are broadened beyond a coterie inside No 10. "If Alastair chose to go, and that led to a determination to put back in place a decent, decision-making structure, it would be a good thing for this country."

The Government, she says, is living proof of Marshall McLuan's thesis that the medium is the message. "What you are going to say in the media leads the policy, rather than careful analysis of the merits before a decision, then thinking of how to present it. It is all led by what is said to the media; that leads to this superficiality."

But spin is not just Mr Campbell's creation, she says, "It is Tony's way of doing it." Perhaps it is just modern politics, with actors becoming politicians and politicians acting. She conceded; "It is a phenomenon that goes wider than Tony Blair."

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.