Bob Spink and Iraq

If you live in Rayleigh , this week’s edition of the Yellow Advertiser may have a picture of Bob Spink MP on the front page with the headline: “SPINK: UK TROOPS OUT BY CHRISTMAS” ‘Blair must start pull-out now”.

This isn’t a normal news story – it’s a paid advertisment wrapped around the actual newspaper. Of course, Mr Spink is MP for Castle Point, not Rayleigh, but we suppose the Yellow Advertiser has problems distinguishing between the two places.

The advertisment wraparound is full of glowing tributes to Mr Spink. As he says, “An MP really can make a difference if they work hard, are truthful and dead straight”.

Although Mr Spink has now “Asked Tony Blair to pull British troops from Iraq, starting from Xmas”, in the spirit of truthfulness and straightness we should say that this seems to be quite a change in opinion.

On the key votes in parliament in Spring 2003, Mr Spink basically voted in favour of the war. He could have voted with the Lib Dems and some rebel Tory and Labour MPs who said that the case for war was unproven, but he didn’t.

In fact, Mr Spink was one of the first MPs to push for war in Iraq. Back in 2001 he said in parliament:

This time we must finish the job, and finish it properly. Throughout history, commanders have made the fundamental error of not prosecuting war to the very end. I believe that the Gulf war 10 years ago was an example of that. I wonder whether those on the Treasury Bench will accept that, at the right time, the theatre should be extended to include Iraq.

We don’t want to be unfair to our neighbouring MP – we know that it was, and still is, a very difficult issue. But if Mr Spink could find somewhere to say “Charlie Kennedy was right on this”, he would rise even further in the public’s esteem.