Iraq ‘casts long shadow’, Alexander admits

By Ian Dunt

The damage the Iraq conflict did to trust in British politics is still being felt, Douglas Alexander has admitted.

Speaking during his speech to the Labour party conference, the shadow foreign secretary admitted that the conflict damaged the party but highlighted the Libyan intervention as evidence that it should not be afraid to become militarily engaged in the future.

In a speech which cited the west's tendency to back dictatorships in the Middle East, Mr Alexander praised the Arab Spring, which has seen a wave of revolts across the region.

"I'm proud this year we chose to stand with those young people and against the old autocrats", he said.

"I have always understood the loss of life and loss of trust.

"The Iraq war still casts a long shadow. Too often in the past the west has backed stability over democracy in the Middle East".

Mr Alexander also acknowledged the victory of centre-right parties across Europe – a trend which was bucked recently when the centre-left won power in Denmark.

"For a decade around 1997, the centre left was defeating the right," he added.

"Now the centre right is beating the left."

Labour is in Liverpool for its annual conference.