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Talking Iraq

Brian Taylor | 13:23 UK time, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The topic today? Let's talk Iraq.

Let's talk the issue which previously dominated politics in Scotland, throughout these islands and elsewhere. Let's talk the confirmed end of UK military involvement.

Gordon Brown has announced that the UK's mission there will end by 31 May - with the troops coming home within two months from that date.

All of which makes Mr Brown the prime minister who will end the Iraqi episode - while prompting a succession of further questions, not least opposition demands that the delayed inquiry into the causes of the conflict should now begin.

At the very least, these opposition leaders and others will presumably point out that the mission which will now end on that prescribed date differs somewhat from the original search for weapons of mass destruction.

'Noble cause'

Take a glance elsewhere on the BBC website. There is a grimly efficient interactive graphic which charts by place of birth the British troop fatalities in Iraq.

For Scotland, the figure is 19 dead; that is listed as 11% of the total.

Of course, Scotland is not alone. The south-west of England has contributed 12% of the war dead, the south-east 11%.

A closing note. I recall the former Defence Secretary Des Browne referring in speeches to the conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan as the "noble cause" of this era.

I do not recall him attaching that label to Iraq.


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