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Ming: In or out? Feb 02

How long does Sir Menzies Campbell think our troops should be in Iraq?

Just over a year ago, he co-wrote this article in The Times, calling for occupying forces to aim for withdrawal in what was a year’s time – around now. Under the headline “Our troops must quit Iraq when the UN mandate ends in a year” and the subhead “We need to fix an exit timetable”, Robin Cook, Douglas Hurd and Ming wrote:

By its actions our Government has imposed on all of us, supporters and opponents of war alike, an obligation to the people of Iraq. But that obligation cannot be open-ended. The costs of our presence — financial, political and human — rise every day. We can give the people of Iraq an opportunity but they must take it: we cannot take it for them. The British Government cannot long delay reaching a judgment. Donald Rumsfeld’s four years are not an option for Britain, with our more limited troop numbers.
The UN mandate expires in a year’s time with the completion of the timetable for direct election of a representative government under an agreed constitution. Both Britain and America should inform the assembly elected this weekend that we expect to leave by the end of that UN mandate. Both the assembly and the occupying forces must then each do its part to fulfil the necessary political and security tasks to meet that timetable.

In May, just after the General Election, he spoke to UPI:

Sir Menzies Campbell, foreign affairs spokesman for Britain’s anti-war Liberal Democrats, said there was “compelling evidence” the presence of coalition forces was “as much a part of the problem as the solution.”

“A substantial number of those parties that fought the elections at the end of January, fought on the basis of the withdrawal of the coalition forces,” he told United Press International. On April 9, the second anniversary of the fall of Saddam, 300,000 people demonstrated in Baghdad demanding coalition forces withdraw, he added.

“I think it’s pretty clear what the attitude of the Iraqi people is on this topic,” he said.

Earlier in the week, Chris Huhne followed these comments up with a call for a proper timetable for withdrawal:

Liberal Democrat leadership contender Chris Huhne has called for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year. The move comes as vigils are taking place following the death of the 100th member of the UK’s armed forces since the conflict started three years ago.

Mr Huhne, a Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, said withdrawal this year was “well within the bounds of what is feasible”.
Mr Huhne said: “The important thing is to hand over to Iraqi security forces and we’re not going to be in a position to do that unless we concentrate minds by setting a very clear deadline.

“So I’m not obviously calling for immediate withdrawal. We have to recognise our responsibility.

“But it has been recognised for some time that a timetable that sets the end of this year is well within the bounds of what is feasible.”

Ming Campbell would support this. Wouldn’t he?

The Liberal Democrat leadership candidate and bookies’ frontrunner, Sir Menzies Campbell, hit back at his rival Chris Huhne today over green taxes and for calling for an early withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

A spokesman for Sir Menzies told Guardian Unlimited that Mr Huhne’s call yesterday for a complete withdrawal of British troops by the end of the year was “naive populism”.


4 Responses

  1. 1
    Steve Guy 

    Thank you for bringing together the detail on this one – it certainly looks like a strange change of position. I was sure I remembered Ming calling for a timetable for withdrawal last year!

  2. 2

    Do you have any comment on Chris being a former member of the labour party? also aren’t you rather over playing the ming/iraq thing. just because a over excited spokesman for a campaign says something silly. finally what do you think about Chris comparing the old Liberal party to Jehovahs Witnesses?

  3. I’ll answer those questions David:

    Many of our best politicians: Charles Kennedy, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, were once members of the Labour Party.

    Secondly, the old Liberal Party were comparable to Jehovah’s Witnesses! It is a testament to how the party has matured over the past 15 years that this is no longer the case.

    Thirdly, Ming has too many “over excited spokesmen” saying “silly” things – it has become a daily routine. Don’t you think it is incumbant on someone who expects to LEAD a political party to get his own house in order first? This is a deadly serious question of leadership.

  1. […] The candidates were pretty well matched when it came to questions and I suspect that, as the hustings have gone on, they’ve adopted some of each others policies and turns of phrase to fill in gaps of their own. None of them scored a knockout blow, although I was pleased to see that Huhne has started reference Ming’s U-turn over Iraq. Huhne stickers appeared to be shifting well after the event. […]