Labour leadership hustings
Iraq. Why should any of us ever trust anything you say again?
Diane Abbott: I spoke out against, marched against and voted against the Iraq war. None of the other candidates can say that – although they have all conveniently discovered misgivings about it just in time for this leadership campaign.
Andy Burnham: I voted in favour of military intervention in Iraq, perhaps the most difficult decision I have made since entering Parliament. What persuaded me, though, was the plea from the leader of the Iraqi Kurds, who addressed the Parliamentary Labour Party, who begged us to intervene and give the Iraqi people hope of a better future. Labour is and will remain an internationalist party, recognising that democracy and human rights are fundamental issues and when we are called upon, we must be prepared to act. As leader I will establish a Labour Party commission, to include external organisations and agencies, to examine the most appropriate process to develop a 'Framework for Intervention'. This Framework will set out the principles for the Party and the public so that it is clear how we judge our future actions.
David Miliband: If I knew then what I know now about the weapons of mass destruction I wouldn't have supported the war. But I didn't. Neither did any of the world's intelligence services or the UN. I deeply regret the loss of trust, and most importantly, the loss of life that resulted.
Ed Miliband: I believe that the weapons inspectors should have been given more time and that the failure to do so contributed to a catastrophic loss of trust in my party, but I don't take any moral high ground over taking a different view to others. People did make difficult decisions at the time. But we have to learn the lessons and start from that, not let the discussion be about claiming some sense of being right at the time. But what I will say is that I think, if Labour wants to win back people's trust, recognising the profound mistake of the Iraq war is an important starting point.
Ed Balls: I'm not going to pretend I was against the war at the time, but just forgot to tell anybody. If I'd been an MP in 2003, I would have voted for the war because we were told that there were weapons of mass destruction and that was the basis for military action. But it's since turned out that there weren't and so it's right to say, looking back, that it was wrong.