What a rapid conversion on the road to Westminster for Blaydon’s Labour MP Dave Anderson! The left wing firebrand and former trade union boss before the election turned at startling speed into loyalist supporter of Tony Blair’s government.
From the man who claimed in The Journal on 8th March 2004, “I wouldn't describe myself as an identikit New Labour person”, we have, since his election as Labour MP for Blaydon, seen him slavishly back the government on all key issues and votes.
And now, despite his protestations of opposition to the war, he defends his support of the Blair government line on Iraq, even writing to The Journal (6th November 2006) to back the occupation.
Indeed, he went even further when speaking in Parliament on 25th October to oppose withdrawal from Iraq. In the debate he stated, “We should not be listening to armchair theorists, political opportunists or enemies of democracy, who would tell us to get out.”
So Mr Anderson, those who question the Iraq war are enemies of democracy? It is unlikely that the many thousands of his Blaydon constituents who believe the war was a huge mistake would share that view.
On 13th October the Head of the Army, Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, said that the presence of UK armed forces in Iraq "exacerbates the security problems" and they should "get out some time soon". (BBC) Is he an armchair theorist, Mr Anderson?
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the current cost to the British taxpayer of the occupation and war in Iraq is £2.36million a day. (BBC) That is the equivalent of a brand new local primary school, or a hospital ward, for each day the Iraqi occupation continues.
With most people believing the presence of the occupying forces is adding to the problems in Iraq, the Liberal Democrats (who opposed the war from the start) have argued that there needs to be a phased withdrawal and a timetable to achieve it.
Meanwhile, in losing support in Blaydon, Dave Anderson has at least gained support in Westminster where he has just been rewarded for his loyalty to Tony Blair by being appointed to the first rung of the government ministerial ladder as a Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Liberal Democrats have no intention of being churlish however and we wish Mr Anderson well in his new career as part of the Blair/Brown government.