By Harvey Thompson:
Families of UK soldiers killed in Iraq mount political, legal challenge to Blair government
21 August 2006
Relatives of some of the 115 British soldiers killed in Iraq have announced their intention to form a new political party to contest parliamentary elections.
The decision to launch the new party—to be called Spectre—was announced by Reg Keys, whose son Lance Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, was killed along with five other Royal Military Police soldiers at an Iraqi police station in Al-Majar Al-Kabir in June 2003.
Keys stood against Prime Minister Tony Blair in last year’s general election.
He says that Spectre hopes to field upwards of 70 candidates, targeting those politicians the families hold culpable for the deaths of their sons in an illegal war.
“Every time you see news of more deaths, it just brings it all back and you realise that some family’s nightmare is just beginning,” said Keys.
“We know how those families will be feeling. We all feel we’ve been lied to, ignored and, frankly, insulted. But now it’s different.
Now we’re going to make ministers pay with their seats.
“All the parents of the soldiers killed are angry.
If Thomas had been fighting for his country in a legal war, then you wouldn’t be hearing from me.
But we were lied to. Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction; he was no threat to us.
So we feel those lives were lost for nothing.”
Keys said 20 people who had been bereaved by the Iraq war had signed up for Spectre.
They include Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son Gordon was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra in 2004.
Gentle has been an active campaigner against government supporters of the Iraq war, and previously stood as an independent candidate against Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram.
She said, “I’m getting between 200 and 300 e-mails a day from bereaved families, concerned military families and serving soldiers who all feel angry at the way we have been lied to….
This movement is growing and by forming a political party we’ll have a focus of that anger.”
The new party is to be formally established later this month.
In addition to Keys and Gentle, Spectre has the support of Mike Aston (whose son Russell died alongside Thomas Keys), Peter Brierley (whose son Shaun died in Kuwait in 2003), Susan Smith (whose son Phillip died in a roadside bombing last year), and Beverley Clarke (who lost her son David to “friendly fire” in 2003).
Spectre candidates are to target pro-war ministers with small majorities.
Among those who could be vulnerable are Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, former foreign secretary and currently leader of the Commons Jack Straw, and Ruth Kelly, the communities and local government secretary.
Military families in the USA: here.
On the 2005 British general election: here.