Don't mention the war

The anti-war demonstration at the Labour Party Conference last Saturday - organised by Stop the War, CND and the British Muslim Initiative - was joined by thousands calling on Gordon Brown to end Britain's participation in the catastrophic conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trade unionists, students, pensioners, Muslim activists and peace campaigners marched through Manchester to represent the vast majority in this country opposed to the government's war policies, and to deliver a letter for Gordon Brown which said:

"We urge you to deliver on your commitment to withdraw all British troops from the illegal and catastrophic occupation of Iraq. We also urge you to recognise that the occupation of Afghanistan has involved Britain in an unwinnable and devastating war in a country where the population is clearly opposed to our presence."

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were noticeably absent in most of the media coverage of Labour speeches at the conference, understandable enough, given how little the issues were on the agenda. In a fleeting mention, foreign secretary David Miliband did spout this nonsense: "Talk to Afghans and they want what we want: a decent future free from fear. But they need young British men and women [i.e. British soldiers] to make that future possible."

If Miliband ever spoke to ordinary Afghans, he'd soon hear what they want: "Get all the foreign invaders out of our country. You are the source of fear that is making our future impossible."

As for defence secretary Des Browne - rarely off television screens these days, expressing "deep regret" at yet more British soldiers being killed in Afghanistan - he had this gem of self-delusion (or blatant lying) on Iraq: "Free from thuggery and intimidation, normal life is returning."

And what was Gordon Brown's take on the wars he is waging in Iraq and Afghanistan? His "make-or-break" conference speech, which according to many commentators could determine whether or not he remained Labour Party leader had not a single word on Iraq and Afghanistan. Not one. No doubt it was Alistair Campbell, one of his speech writers - and notorious as a warmonger in his own right, being the architect of the "dodgy" dossiers Tony Blair used to dupe parliament into supporting the Iraq war - who whispered continually in Brown's ear, "Don't mention the war, don't mention the war." And he didn't.