Iraq war: MSPs urged to ‘recant’ backing conflict

Politicians who backed the war in Iraq have been urged to “recant” in a debate ten years after the invasion.

The First Minister challenged MSPs, and in particular Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, to publicly change their minds and “admit their mistake”.

The war which started on 20 March 2003 lasted more than six years, claimed the lives of at least 100,000 Iraqis, 179 UK personnel and cost more than £9 billion.

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Mr Salmond, leading the Holyrood debate, challenged Ms Lamont.

“Instead of following the lesson of Tony Blair ten years ago, perhaps she should join her current leader, or then-deputy prime minister John Prescott, who have recanted on their support for war and accepted that the case was never made and they were wrong to do so.

“I hope Johann Lamont and the remaining 23 members in this parliament of 129, who for one reason or another were misled into supporting an illegal conflict with incalculable consequences, at some stage, perhaps in voting for the motion today, will find within themselves the courage and integrity and admit that mistake to the Scottish people.”

A decade ago the Scottish Labour party, led by Jack McConnell, narrowly prevented an embarrassing vote against the UK Labour Government’s policy on Iraq.

Ms Lamont insisted she voted with her conscience at the time.

She told Mr Salmond: “Can I say for the record that when I voted as I did, I voted on the grounds of listening to the evidence in front of me and on my conscience. It does you or no one else any service to suggest that when people disagree it’s because they’re obliged to do so.”

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said he is proud that his party opposed the invasion.

He said: “It was based on a false premise. This war was illegal, costly, bloody and it was just plain wrong. Although I’m proud our party opposed the war, I’m more ashamed our country went to war in Iraq.”