Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, stated today that the May 5th election could be a referendum on the Iraq war.
Speaking in south London, Mr Kennedy said the Iraq war could be the issue on which people decided how they cast their vote - and he called on the government to publish all the legal advice it had received about taking military action.
I believe Mr. Kennedy has a point. The majority of British people opposed the Iraq war. In addition, the justification for the war (,i.e. that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction) was based on faulty intelligence.
Michael Howard, Conservative Party leader, said that Mr Blair had lied in the run-up to the Iraq war about the intelligence. Speaking on Breakfast with Frost, Mr Howard said. "The intelligence that he had, as we know from the Butler report,....was limited, sporadic and patchy.
"When Mr Blair came to report that to the country, he said he had intelligence that was extensive, detailed and authoritative. Maybe you can reconcile those two different sets of words. I can't. I think that portraying the intelligence in that way was untrue."
I've stated my position on the Iraq war in previous posts in this blog. However, the Iraq war has tarnished the image of New Labour in many people's eyes (including mine). New Labour was a very popular government in the first couple of years after it won the 1997 election. In 2001, there may have been some concern as to whether public services were improving, but they won that year's election since the Conservatives were not viewed as a viable alternative. In 2005, New Labour aren't universally popular (albeit they aren't a 'detested' government). If they win the 5th May election, then IMO it will be because the electorate don't consider the Tories a credible alternative.