August 24th 2011
I received a letter today that astonished me.
After I have replied, I will publish it. The subject is at the heart of why I am in politics and why I will fight to continue. The letter is from the Defence Secretary Liam Fox. It admits that a remark of his in May was light hearted and not intended to be taken seriously. The final paragraph is a very surprising acknowledgement from a political opponent on the value of my opposition to the Helmand incursion.
The Guardian carried a story that I was one of the very few MPs who was opposed to a NATO support to avoid a massacre in Benghazi. This was lazy journalism based on an assumption that opponents of the British involvement in the Iraq War and the Helmand incursion were pacifists who would oppose all wars. They later published a letter of mine which made my support clear. In the past I have supported the soft power use of British Armed services in Kosovo, Bosnia and Sierra Leone. While I had many misgivings about the possible outcome, on balance I believed that Britain had no choice but to help to prevent the massacre of Benghazi.
Liam Fox acknowledges this in full and generous terms. In 2003 I voted against a three line whip and opposed Britain's involvement in Bush's war in Iraq. In 2006 I was the only MP who made a speech opposing the incursion into Helmand which I said would stir up a hornet's nest. I have repeatedly raised the futility of our presence in Afghanistan and the dishonesty of apologists for a doomed war. No other MP has campaigned in the same way.
That is my main reason why I wish to continue in politics.