Iraq war was wrong, new Labour leader says

By staff writers
28 Sep 2010

In his first keynote party conference speech, Labour's new leader, Ed Miliband, said that Tony Blair's government was “wrong” to invade Iraq.

Mr Miliband’s words, which included acknowlegment of the bravery troops who took part in the conflict, stopped short of the full apology demanded by some.

But the younger Miliband brother made it clear that in his view the invasion should not have happened without clear United Nations backing - implicitly referring to the second UN resolution, which President Bush and PM Blair refused to countenance.

“Iraq was an issue that divided our country and party,” said the new Labour leader.

He went further than ever before in conceding that the 2003 war was conducted in haste and undermined international relations.

Miliband also sought to re-brand Labour as a "new generation" party, and put the struggle for equality back on the agenda.

But he also vowed to champion aspiration and “make Labour the party of enterprise and also the party of small business”.

He paid warm tribute to his parents who fled Nazi Germany during World War II, saying that he and brother David learned the same set of beliefs from them — including the need to “leave the world a better place”.

The Labour leader's father, Ralph Miliband, was a distinguished Marxist-humanist scholar and activist. His sons chose a rather different political path, albeit with a commitment to similar humanitarian values.

It is believed that shadow foreign secretary David Miliband will step down from the political limelight tomorrow, leaving his brother a clear run at leading the party in its tussle with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

The new Labour leader made it clear that while the deficit had to be reduced, he did not think that public spending cuts on the scale proposed by the government were the way forward in terms of either fairness or prosperity.

[Ekk/3]

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