New Year Message from Gavin Strang

January 2004 – Article in The Musselburgh News

As I look back over the old year, I can see no event at Westminster more significant than the vote in March to launch military action in Iraq.

As some readers may recall, I deeply regretted that decision.

War means injury and death for civilians and military personnel, and so can only be justified when all other options have failed. It was my view that we had not reached that point when we went to war – the weapons inspectors had been in Iraq for just sixteen weeks, and some real progress in disarmament had been made.

I was also very concerned that war would have a destabilising effect on the fragile situation in the Middle East, and would gravely damage the campaign against international terrorism.

Many of the atrocities that have occurred in Iraq in recent months suggest to me that the presence of US and UK forces in Iraq is inflammatory. To bring stability to Iraq, it is my view that we should move towards replacing coalition troops with a UN force comprised of troops from other nations.

At this time of year our thoughts are with the men and women in our armed forces, and their families. We also remember the thousands of Iraqis, military and civilian, who have been killed since the start of military action.

On a brighter and more seasonal note, I am delighted to have this opportunity to wish all Musselburgh News readers all the very best for a very happy and peaceful New Year.