troops in Iraq !! Blair knows very well that Bush decided Iraq war long time even before 9/11 !! Blair knows well that his evidence for Iraq WMD was only a lie, as he presented a student theses in House of Common, to convince the House to approve Iraq war. But as the proverb says you can cheat some people for all time, you can cheat all people for some time , but you can not cheat all people for all time.
Associated France Press (AFP) 1/11/2006
Blair dodges defeat in vote on Iraq war inquiry
by Robin Millard
LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair's government survived a potentially damaging vote in parliament on whether he should order an inquiry into how Britain joined the war in Iraq.
Opposition parties had demanded an immediate investigation by a committee of senior members of parliament into the government's handling of the build-up to the US-led March 2003 invasion.
However, the motion, proposed by the small Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties in the lower House of Commons, was defeated by 298 votes to 273, with Blair's 62-seat working majority cut to 25. The government later promised an inquiry once the situation permitted.
A dozen rebels from Blair's ruling Labour Party, largely drawn from a group known as "the usual suspects", voted against the government although other lawmakers who have previously shown dissent over Iraq fell into line.
Blair is seen by some as a lame duck after pledging to step down by September 2007 and a parliamentary defeat would have further weakened his authority and could even have hastened his departure.
In a stormy debate before the vote, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said a defeat would signal uncertainty and endanger Britain's 7,000 troops in war-ravaged Iraq.
"We are at what could potentially be a turning point in Iraq," she told MPs, adding it was not the time "to rehash all the debates and all the arguments that have been had over and over again".
But Beckett hinted that the government may hold an inquiry at some point in the future.
"It is perfectly sensible and legitimate to say that there will come a time when these issues will be explored in the round and in full so that we can learn whatever lessons we can from them."
The Defence Secretary Des Browne went one further, saying the government would hold a "retrospective inquiry" into the Iraq war, telling the BBC: "When the time is right, of course there will be such an inquiry."
The main opposition Conservatives, who voted for military action in Iraq, backed the opposition motion Tuesday having seen their demands for an inquiry once troops come home go unheard.
"I think they came near enough to losing it that they will have taken the message that they can't ignore these concerns in the future," Conservative foreign affairs spokesman William Hague told Sky News television.
But Foreign Office minister Kim Howells accused the Conservatives of "undermining our troops".
"We don't need this self-righteousness to put us back on track," he told Sky News.
In a second Commons vote, the government's amendment to the opposition motion was carried by 294 votes to 264, a majority of 30.
It said that there had already been four independent committees of inquiry and rejected the idea of holding another one which would "divert" resources away from efforts to improve conditions in Iraq.
Tuesday's debate -- the first on Iraq for more than two years -- came after it was disclosed that the total cost of Britain's military involvement in Iraq has passed four billion pounds (six billion euros, 7.6 billion dollars).
The ministry of defence said that operations in the country cost 958 million pounds in the last financial year, a rise from 910 million in 2004-05.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the second-biggest opposition party, conceded that Blair had won the battle, but not the political war.
"Although the government may have won the day this evening, there is no doubt that it did so on the basis of many of its own supporters really making their support conditional," he told Sky News.
"They want to hear some change of strategy," he said, adding that he would keep pushing for an inquiry.
Welsh nationalist Adam Price, who opened the debate, told MPs: "The issue at its heart is far bigger than party politics -- it's about accountability, it's about the monumental catastrophe of the Iraq war -- the worst foreign policy disaster certainly since Suez, possibly since Munich and it's about the morass in which we regrettably still find ourselves."
Outside parliament, a group of about 200 demonstrators protested as the vote took place, carrying placards calling for British troops to leave Iraq and shouting slogans criticising Blair.