The Independent London Newspaper
24th May 2017

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: Chilcot: no hindsight – we reported it at the time

    Former MP Frank Dobson was an opponent of the Iraq war

    Former MP Frank Dobson was an opponent of the Iraq war

    Published: 12 July, 2016

    THE scathing findings of the Chilcot Inquiry should come as little surprise to readers of the New Journal.

    Over the years, this newspaper stood clear and firm – first over the invasion, then committed to reporting the unfolding horrors of war. We felt, as a regional paper, that this was justified because of the threat to the lives of British soldiers. Our stance was supported by a vast cross-section of public opinion. 

    We reported how Camden people took direct action, travelling out to war zones to try to stop the bombing as human shields. When school children started walking out of lessons to join the mass demonstrations in Parliament Square, we invited them into our offices. We helped them publish their own newspaper – Paz – which spread a message of peace among their peers, the next generation. 

    In the Town Hall, councillors were challenged over the decisions of their national parties. Many of their views chimed then with the conclusions of Chilcot, 13 years later. Some may face accusations of relying on hindsight this week, but in fact many showed great powers of perception and foresight. The former MP Frank Dobson, himself an opponent of the war, was pleading with disaffected Labour members not to leave the party.

    While the mainstream media was, effectively, turning a blind eye to what was going on in Iraq – aside from the Independent and the Daily Mirror, and possibly some other regional dailies – we became a kind of peculiar voice of popular opposition.

    Many people who were supportive of our coverage at the time, including the Lib Dems who were outright opponents of the war, attached themselves to the paper. For us, a new and welcome wider readership was born.  

    Crumbs...

    IT looks like Round 2 for in the fight between Camden’s dinner ladies and its school meals contractors Caterlink. 

    After the wages dispute was finally resolved last year, the company reached a deal with the council that considerably increased the take-home pay of some of the borough’s lowest paid workers. 

    This, sadly, came at a cost to many parents who continue to foot part of the bill through raised charges for their children’s meals. 

    We wonder how they will take the news that staff they are helping to subsidise look set to lose out amid questionable claims of “productivity”. The council and the union Unison may choose to intervene and the company may still see sense. But what example does this set to our children whose mouths they are responsible for feeding?