The wrong side of public opinion


Cmrgtw-XEAEUy_QIts challenging to be told that you have got it wrong compared to the weight of public opinion. I clearly recall the Saturday in 2003 when along with a couple of friends and 2M people who I did not know, we traveled to central London to take part in a March for Peace. The sheer weight of numbers seemed more than enough to send a message to Parliament to stay their hand as they hovered over the ‘go to war’ button. It was very clear to me at the time that Blair was misguidedly trying to hold back a fool in the Whitehouse, egged on by warmongers like Donald Rumsfeld whose financial and political interests meant that our troops and Iraqui civilians were seen as expendable assets. The one truth that may never be exposed is the extent to which oil was one of the motivators which influenced these evil men. However as the graph shows, at the time of the March and the time of the vote in the House of Commons, overall public opinion was supportive of war. In effect our march was a portent of how opinion was going to change, not a measure of it. We were the canary in the coal mine. The fact that the Whitehouse has no intention of analysing the actions of Bush and Rumsfeld despite the outcome of Chilcot means that we will never expose the real culprits, whatever the public opinion of Tony Blair. Tragically had he been held back by Parliament, the war would have gone ahead, nevertheless although that does not excuse him from his failure to fully investigate the facts rather than the politics. By the same token all those men and women who in 2003 voted to go to war, arguably protected by the weight of public opinion on the one side and the sleight of hand that the Cabinet achieved on the other are still responsible and must hold their hands up just as much as the resident of 10 Downing Street. Sadly yesterday in Parliament suggested that there was no real sense of remorse from any of them. Those of us who knew all along that the war was a mistake may have to resort to engaging with them one by one in some cases by social media as most of them are not our MPs. This will be seen as trolling and bullying by many of them and they will get upset. It would be so much more dignified if they were willing to stand up and admit their lack of scrutiny of the executive and their mistaken vote.

Meanwhile the weight of public opinion has once again been tested, this time by a national referendum rather than a less reliable poll. As a result of our decision to leave the EU our economy is already beginning to show signs of discomfort. I regret the decision we have made, but respect that more people voted to leave than voted to stay. I hope that the impact of our departure from the EU is not something we come to regret as much as we all now regret the invasion of Iraq. The fact is that just as Parliament was misled and told half truths by Blair and his Cabinet in 2003, so we have all been told half truths and lies by people on both sides of the campaign as they attempted to persuade us to vote one way or another. Sadly the electorate lacks the infrastructure to hold our Government and its members to account for what they say. We can of course vote in a general election every 5 years, but that is worlds away from the sort of scrutiny that Parliament can impose on the Cabinet and its first among equals.

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in EU Referendum, Parliament and Democracy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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