In the same week as the BBC announced it was going to erect a statue of George Orwell outside its premises, Gordon Brown has launched his latest book. I couldn’t help but see the correlation between these two events. Orwell once worked for the BBC. He was responsible for creating propaganda relating to the United Kingdom’s involvement in India. This period of his life most certainly influenced his views as expressed through his novel nineteen eighty four where government manipulates the truth and rewrites history to support its views of the day and admonish it from any blame for previous wrong doings. Orwell was therefore acutely aware of this and despised it. Since leaving office, Gordon Brown has written extensively of his time as a Member of Parliament, including his time in the cabinet and as Prime Minister. His time in office had many trials and tribulations and Mr Brown was found wanting on more than one occasion and now he is working very hard to distance himself from his shortcomings. The banking crisis, according to Mr Brown, was nothing to do with him and yet it is widely believed that the regulator was put under political pressure not to be heavy handed or intrusive with banks such as HBOS and Northern Rock.
And now he claims the United Kingdom’s involvement in the Iraq war was nothing to do with him. He blames the Americans for not sharing a report. This revisionism doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. There were many voices raised in protest. Hans Blix stated that the weapons of mass destruction argument was flawed and unproven. Mr Brown must have known the real reason was regime change. And he supported this war despite the lack of any plan to rebuild Iraq post war.
On Sunday I, like many politicians, will lay wreaths at war memorials and I can’t help but think that wearing a poppy and laying wreaths is not enough. Politicians should pay tribute to those that paid the ultimate price by working to avoid military intervention, rather than sending our armed forces into areas of conflict and then wiping our hands of any liability. There is no room for revisionism in war. We should learn from our mistakes and we should never put ourselves into a position where it is convenient to forget.