Dedicated to all those who died, were injured or otherwise affected by the military actions in Iraq. Whether they were military personnel or civilians. Whatever there nationality. And thanking all those who have stood up for their beliefs all those years. They know who they are.
So. Chilcot .....
In 2002 and 2003, with millions of others worldwide, I marched to try and persuade Tony Blair and George W. Bush that they were wrong to wage war in Iraq against Saddam Hassein's government.
Over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of February 2003 various estimates have calculated that worldwide 8 - 30 million demonstrated in more than 70 countries. It is generally accepted that 2 million marched in London alone and I joined them. And as so many of us said, for each one of us there we were representing at least 5 others - many of us could only be there because of the help of baby sitters, sponsors, employers who allowed many of us to leave work to come and many more.
Generally we were good humoured although determined. We got a few jeers from the crowds, but not a lot really. The shopkeepers came out as we poured through Piccadilly and the Strand and we got lots clapping from the crowds on the streets including the tourists. We passed a choir singing the Internationale in Spanish; Camera Crews from many media stations all over the world and I spoke to David Bailey who - wearing a beany hat [it was a really cold day] - was snapping away like mad.
The speeches in Hyde Park were wonderful. They included the late Mo Mowlem [one of her last, if not her last public, appearances. Many listening were in tears] The late Charles Kennedy made a wonderful, impassioned speech. The late Tony Benn was his usual brilliant, eloquent self.
Well we tried. And as the death tolls went up and the truths began to emerge we collectively wondered if we could have done more. Tried harder to convince the statesmen and the politicians that we weren't all left wing politicos, pacifists who prefered a good march to a good punch up in a foreign land.
I remember writing at the time that surely this was about oil? I remember quoting Siegfried Sassoon in the First World War declaring his opposition to that war [and he was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in that war don't forget] on the grounds that one of the reasons for it was the possession of the oil-fields of Kuwait] [I can't quote it now because the recent house move hasn't thrown up that particular book just yet] Strangely motivation regarding the Oil fields of the Iraq war aren't figuring in the Chilcot report, it seems
And yesterday when the Chilcot report was finally published we had to watch the same Tony Blair blethering on about how Iraq is a better place than it would have been without the war etc etc And politicians commenting how they had been 'fooled' at the time into believing that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction out there ready to blow us to bits in 45 minutes. And all the other time old lies that have always been fed to us when the money is found quickly for a war, the money that is never available for those necessary wars: on poverty, lack of education, medical needs - oh how I could rant! Yet I wonder how all those millions of us who marched in 2003 weren't fooled?
I may add a bit more to this later. And some pictures. But now I want to go away and think some more. About all the deaths. All the suffering. All the destruction. All the lies. All the waste.
To quote Pete Seeger: 'When Will They Ever Learn?'