Iraq War 10th Anniversary
13th June 2013
In June, Graham was present for the 10 year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. This is what he had to say, "I was one of the organisers of the rebellion, and it was with great sadness that I rebelled against my party and my Prime Minister. Will my right hon. Friend concede that the vote was not gifted by the Government, but hard fought for? Many of us worked for many months to obtain the vote. Indeed, there was to be an alternative convening of Parliament in Church House, at which we would have had a critical mass, and only 48 hours before the Government conceded that there would be a vote. We had enough Members to convene a Parliament to discuss the Iraq war, and the former Speaker, Bernard Weatherill, was prepared to chair it. It would have included Members from across the House, including some very brave Conservative Members, Members from the Liberal party and friends from the smaller parties across the political spectrum. But 122 Labour Members voted on the first occasion, and indeed the numbers went up on the second vote, which is unheard of, given the whipping operation against those who did not want us to go to war. It was not a gift of the Government; it was hard fought for."
This was met with a positive responce by Michael Meacher, who said "I am pleased that my hon. Friend provided the House with that information, as I do not think it is well understood. It has been claimed in this debate is that the whipping was not very strong, but that is absolutely not the view that most of us take."
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North)then said "My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) was correct. Up until the Iraq war, taking this country to war at any time was completely a matter of the royal prerogative exercised by the Prime Minister. That royal prerogative remains in operation. A number of us, particularly my hon. Friend, argued strongly that we should have a vote in Parliament on the war—previously, only procedural votes had been possible. Eventually the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, agreed that there could be vote, although I think it was a matter of self-interest on his part: he wanted to share the responsibility and the burden. We were pleased to have the opportunity to vote against the war, and I suspect he was pleased to have the opportunity to get a lot of MPs through the Lobby in support of his view."