How Mr Llew Smith voted on key issues since 2001
December 21, 2004
Gary Kent looks at the topsy-turvy world of Glenda Jackson and Llew Smith
The Guardian's David Hencke reported on Saturday 17th December that the defence secretary "has been blocked from sending a Christmas gift of weapons and ammunition on behalf of the British taxpayer to re-equip the Iraqi army and police" by two left-wing Labour MPs, Glenda Jackson and Llew Smith.
They had tabled an Early Day Motion which argued: "That this House while welcoming the gifting of equipment for training purposes to the Iraqi Interim Government, as detailed in the Ministry of Defence minute dated 15th December, deplores the inclusion of this gift of live ammunition, grenade launchers and pistols; and calls upon the Government to withdraw such military hardware, which will do nothing to reduce violence and intimidation in a country awash with such weapons."
Hencke says that the MOD has confirmed that "delivery of the equipment - part of a £17.5m package - will have to be halted until the MPs' objections are examined" and that "the move means at the minimum that no equipment is likely to reach Iraq until after the elections."
The MOD told him that "Our objective is to hasten the capability and capacity of the Iraqi police, national guard and department of border enforcement. This will help reduce the burden on our own forces, enhance wider conflict resolution and facilitate our ultimate withdrawal."
Llew Smith, on the other hand, says that "While we all want the conflict to end in Iraq as a soon as possible, pouring guns into a country already stacked with weapons is not the way to resolve the conflict. To sell the idea that by making this Christmas gift of arms to the unelected Iraqi regime will speed up the withdrawal of the occupying forces is disingenuous. The British troops should be withdrawn because they were part of an illegal invasion force, as the UN secretary-general has confirmed."
The interim government hasn't been elected. Careful observers will have noticed that Iraq was under one-party rule for several decades until recently.
The point is that the interim government and its national assembly have been drawn from various groups to be as representative as possible and to arrange elections. So this comment by Llew Smith is just so much cant.
The result, however, is far more serious: Iraqi security forces are less able to defend the election process, which is under vicious attack from the so-called resistance and has actually been sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
Who wasn't moved by the terrible picture of an election worker being shot in the head whilst his colleagues waited for their turn? These men were brave patriots and their murder was intended to sicken public opinion and scare others from protecting the election process. Those who murdered them must not pass.
Labour MP Harry Barnes, who is also a Joint President of LFIQ raised this issue directly with the Prime Minister in the Commons on 20th December.
He said: “On Iraq, the Prime Minister said that the European Council has confirmed its full backing for, and financing of, United Nations protection. Is not part of such action this Government's supplying of weapons to the fledgling Iraqi security forces, police and army? Words are not enough, and such action is surely necessary in order to contain terrorist forces in Iraq.”
The Prime Minister agreed that “we must ensure that we not only train the Iraqi forces but equip them properly, so that they can defend themselves against terrorists who are often very well financed and well armed.”
Harry Barnes also tabled an amendment to the Commons motion from Jackson and Smith (see above) in line with these comments.