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Blair's view on Iran is clear. What's that of the Miliband brothers?

By Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-09-02 at 12.42.29 When I heard Tony Blair make the following remark in his Marr interview, I felt as though a glass of cold water had been thrown over my face -

"It is wholly unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons.  I think we've got to be prepared to confront them ... if necessarily, militarily."

Others will doubtless compare listening to Blair to being soaked by other substances, or denounce him as a bloodthirsty, deranged warmonger - and so on.

But at least he has a view, and is wiling to express it.  What have Labour's main leadership candidates got to say on the matter?

David Miliband

On his campaign website, David Miliband posts nine foreign policy items.  None of them refer to Iran.  The website says that he's running five campaigns, including one to save Britain's pubs.

Ed Miliband

On his, Ed Miliband carries a statement headed "Foreign Policy": "Ed Miliband believes that Labour must learn the lessons from some of the mistakes it made in government in terms of foreign policy. He believes Labour must not go into the next election still defending the war in Iraq — and that we must base our international alliances on our values, not the other way round."

Ed Balls (because I knew you'd ask)

On his, Ed Balls statement - "Why Ed?" - carries no reference to foreign policy at all.


I don't agree with Tony Blair's support for British military action against Iran (though we need a big push on sanctions).  But that country's push to gain nuclear weapons is a vast foreign policy problem.  Because -

  • It's likely to spark a regional nuclear arms race.
  • That would (as the Israel/Palestine conflict fundamentally does not) further destabilise a region on which we partly rely for natural resources.
  • And because during such a race the old rules of mutual assured destruction might not apply.

So, then.  A statement from Ed Miliband consistent with opposition to further wars abroad.  Nothing from David Miliband on Iran (though as an ex-Foreign Secretary he's familiar with the issue).  No question at all on foreign policy to all six candidates during yesterday evening's Channel 4 hustings.  I appreciate that foreign policy was never likely to be front-of-shop during this election - any more than it was during the Conservative one that produced David Cameron in 2005 - but the lack of interest is telling.

You can argue that all Blair's doing is political positioning, carried out against the terrible shadow of Iraq - and its bloody losses.  But isn't that exactly what Ed Miliband's doing?  Where's the sense that Labour's leadership candidates are seriously grappling with vital, urgent global security challenges - especially Iran's drive for nuclear weapons?