Charles Kennedy’s speech against the Iraq War, 22nd February 2003

“Ladies and gentleman I am delighted and privileged to join with you here this afternoon on what is without doubt is this historic occasion. And given the events at the United Nations in New York yesterday when they spoke, today across the world the people are speaking and the Prime Minister and the President have got to start listening. That is our message to them.

“For months now I have been asking questions in the House of Commons of the Prime Minister and I have not been getting the answers.

“What’s come back has been confusing, alarming and you are all here because like me you think it lacks persuasion. So it is no wonder that so much of British and European opinion is not convinced but neither is a lot of American opinion convinced either and that is all too often overlooked in the reporting that we see.

“Now my party has consistently argued from the outset for four principles. First, the mandate of the United Nations must be the one that takes the decision and gives the legitimacy. And secondly that those decisions have got to be based on adequate information. That means full compliance with the weapons inspectors.

“So I have joined you here today and I have been asking these questions for months in Parliament because I am not persuaded by the case for war. The arguments have been contradictory and inconsistent and the information has all too often been misleading as well as inconclusive.

“It’s no wonder that people are scared and confused. I say this to you quite seriously as somebody who personally happens not to be a pacifist but has the utter respect for anyone for grounds of conscience who is.

“As somebody who is not actually anti American but is deeply worried by this Bush administration. And as someone who is under no illusions about the brutal dictatorship and the appalling regime which is Saddam Hussein.

“But I conclude by returning to the United Nations. If the great powers of the world ignore it then great damage will be done to the world order and the best hope of international justice for everybody in the world.

“And without a second United Nations resolution based on authoritative fact from the weapons inspectorate I can assure you there is no way in all conscience that the Liberal Democrats either could or should support a war and we will not.

“International justice also requires a serious restarting of the middle east peace process. I wish the United Nations was able to devote its time and energies to that constructive process rather than the destructive process that we are seeing underway at the moment.

“That absence of a middle east process can only fuel extremism and international terrorism. This is the riskiness moment for Britain since Suez.

“Our country has a principled and a responsible role to play on the world stage but to do so we have to pursue international justice through the United Nations and our government has got to take its people with them. It’s patently failing and that is my message for you today. Thank you.”

hat tip: huffington post

5 comments on “Charles Kennedy’s speech against the Iraq War, 22nd February 2003

  1. John on said:

    A refreshing rejoinder to the welter of gushing tribute to Charles Kennedy from someone who worked closely with him

    This, I think, is particularly important: “His reputation for opposing the Iraq War is fraudulent in many respects. He did all in his power to stop me organising the participation of the Liberal Democrats in the major Peace March which made his name, which I and others successfully pulled off despite him.

    After we achieved this, he then tried (and failed) to block all Lib Dem protests against the war, including by me personally. He then proceeded to place a formal motion of censure against me eight times to the Federal Executive, making my position as Deputy Chair all but impossible.”

  2. Andy Newman on said:


    I am sure that Donnachadh McCarthy’s remarks are heartfelt, and they sound accurate and well informed. Were I him, I might have at least let Kennedy’s body grow cold before sharing them.

  3. BigTam on said:

    Oh boy – Donnachadh McCarthy – what a pious, sanctimonious, canting bastard. Couldn’t wait for a man’s grave to be opened to piss in it. Hope someone’s there to do the same for him when the time comes.

  4. Ian Cameron on said:

    Thanks for posting this up a far more fitting time to re visit it rather than Alistair Campbell’s verbals.