Tony Blair says we are now fighting a “new war” in Iraq. That may suit him, to distract people from questions about the “old war” there. The one which killed my son Gordon at the age of 19. Sent to Iraq with just six months training at Catterick, with inadequate protection, he was killed by a bomb in Basra in June.
Gordon wanted to be a soldier to defend his country. Not to die in a war of aggression. My family is one of nearly 70 grieving for a lost son because of this war. Two more families joined the list yesterday. Many more of our soldiers are suffering from serious injuries.
Some people say that soldiers have to expect to die or be injured when they sign up for the armed services. Maybe so. But they also have the right to expect that they will only be sent to fight for a proper cause, by a government which tells the truth.
These poor boys are being sent to Iraq to die for this government’s lies. Where are the chemical and nuclear weapons they were supposed to be looking for? And if the war was about upholding the UN, why has the UN secretary general now said it is unlawful? Blair hasn’t answered that either.
He said our troops would be welcomed by the Iraqis. Instead, it is all endless bloodshed and chaos there. Yet he hasn’t apologised. If my children had the same regard for honesty as the prime minister, I would be ashamed.
It seems to me that Blair cares more about George Bush than about British soldiers. He made secret promises to the president behind our backs, without a thought for people like Gordon, or like my daughter Maxine, deprived of her brother.
If he cares, why doesn’t he bring our troops back home before more are killed? After all, power is supposed to have been handed over to the Iraqi government. There are no more weapons of mass destruction to look for. The Iraqis should be allowed to sort out their own problems now.
Instead, I heard Geoff Hoon talking about sending more of our lads and lasses over to Iraq. That will mean more dead, more injured, to stop the government facing up to what it has done. I am working with other service families to ensure that our voice can be heard too. Many have already got in touch.
I grieve also for all the Iraqis who have died in this war. It all seems to have been completely unnecessary.
Blair may be let off the hook by Lord This and Justice That in their inquiries. The establishment will stick together. But I do not believe the ordinary people will forgive him so easily.
I want the government to be held to account. The prime minister says he wants a democracy for Iraq. If we had a proper democracy here, we would never have got into this war. And Gordon would be with us at Christmas.
ROSE GENTLE is the mother of Gordon Gentle, a British soldier killed in Iraq this year. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org