This entry was posted on
Friday, October 12th, 2007 at
2:38 pm and is filed
under It’s War! It’s Legal! It’s Lovely!.
I’m writing a letter and blogging it, and would urge you to do the same. Make sure that you push this Early Day Motion.
Oh, and when you’re done, drop by and leave a firm-but-polite comment under this entry at David Miliband’s weblog.
1) A letter, as opposed to an email, will carry more weight… but most MPs should be aware of the need for urgency during an ongoing postal dispute. However, if you want to really impress them, draw up a hand-written letter and hand-deliver it to their constituency office.
2) Use the information from Dan’s bullet-points by all means, but make your letter an original appeal.
3) Be firm, but polite.
4) Try not to follow my example beyond the suggestion that my MP talk to fellow MPs, as I have a rather (*ahem*) unique relationship with my local elected representatives.
I did not see you at Tuesday’s meeting regarding the plight of Iraqi employees, but I’m aware that you had a partially conflicting engagement and I may have missed you entering/leaving. I’m hoping that you had a researcher stay for the entire meeting and/or were there yourself just long enough to catch some or all of what Mark Brockway had to say, but reference links are provided below just in case you somehow missed this important information:
You should pay particular attention to the stories at the latter site, which is run by Brockway, and be aware that they are the tip of the iceberg.
You should also know that, while there is some satisfaction to be had from forcing the government to finally acknowledge the issue, that their initial promises are quite empty and actually counter-productive;
a) The ’12 month’ requirement is not at all fair. Many Iraqi employees at risk left service after a 6-month stint (the standard contract length) precisely because they were at risk; others may have worked an initial or additional stint with the American forces, which will not show up on our records. I’m sure you can see how easily people can slip between the cracks here.
b) Most of those at risk are only alive now because they are one step ahead of the local death squads; a public promise of an ongoing study into the possibility of maybe giving a damn does more than provide former Iraqi employees with false hope, it also lights a fire under the arses of the local death squads while doing nothing to protect their victims from harm. We would do well to instead follow the example of the Danes, who evacuated those they considered to be at risk first and worried about the paperwork later:
c) I suspect that this is part of the reason that the FCO is still bandying about their Big Scary 20,000 Number (i.e. to give the impression that this measure would be impractical or impossible):
A far more responsible way forward would be to mobilise our forces to immediately identify and locate those at risk, and remove them and their families (which so far have yet to be mentioned by our government) to safety.
I’m providing you with this information not because I doubt that you’ll raise this matter with the FCO or put your name to the following Early Day Motion…
… but because I would further request that you speak to your fellow MPs about this matter with some urgency.
Support for this needs to swift and overwhelming; if it comes in dribs and drabs, the government will have no reason to change their existing strategy (beyond the moral and practical imperatives, which appear to elude them):
The result of this malaise is sure to be more needless deaths that shame our country and further complicate our relationship with the people of the Middle East.
I strongly urge you to be part of the driving force that takes this message from MP to MP and then, in numbers, to government.
UPDATE – Here, Garry raises something that also emerged as a key point at Tuesday’s meeting; saving lives risks undermining the narrative…
BSSC – From the Pale and Downtrodden: Doing my best to see this from “the other side”, I can see that this is a tricky situation for the government. They are desperately trying to claim that the south of Iraq is a success story and that security situation has improved to the extent that British troops can withdraw. The fact that Iraqi employees of the British are in grave danger makes a mockery of this assertion and is politically embarrassing for the government. As a consequence, they’re trying to publicise a policy to deal with a problem which they don’t want to acknowledge even exists. The result is the half-hearted effort announced at the beginning of the week.
UPDATE (17 Oct) – The reply from my MP’s office, received 15 Oct:
Dear Mr Ireland,
Many thanks for your email to Anne; she did appreciate all the information and links you provided. I was present for part of the meeting and briefed Anne afterwards; as you mentioned in your email, she had another meeting in Guildford at the same time. In addition, she has since spoken to Ed Vaizey who also briefed her and she plans to raise the plight of the Iraqi translators with other MPs.
Office of Anne Milton
Member of Parliament for Guildford
Shadow Minister for Health