None of this was mentioned at the time.
This was all strangely familiar.
Back last year, on the 1st of October, Tony Blair had to face a discontented Labour Party conference. Things were a little tense, but he came through the big test when the four biggest trade unions affiliated to the party were persuaded to vote against setting a date for the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq. During the debate, as the Guardian reports, an Iraqi woman, Shanaz Rashid, spoke on the platform as follows:
"Please don't desert us in our hour of need. Don't let the men of violence use terror to deny the Iraqi people their freedom. Some of you may feel you can attack your leader over Iraq, but it is Mr Blair who has stood up to Saddam and freed my people, who for the past 35 years have suffered destruction, humiliation, chemical weapons attacks, poverty, torture and rape.Excellent well, rah-rah and Rule, Britannia! The fly in the ointment, though, as a few media pointed out, is that she had been living in a well-off suburb of London since the age of 18 and was married to a man who had the best reasons to be grateful to Tony Blair.
Yes, there have been difficulties. Yes, there have been mistakes; perhaps many mistakes. No, you did not find weapons of mass destruction. But for the great majority of Iraqis, WMD was never the issue. We don't understand the criticism of your prime minister. All we wanted was to be free; free - just free....[quote from the Guardian's account]
"Please, please do not desert us in our hour of need," she said, tears running down her cheeks. "I appeal to you, help us build a new democratic Iraq."[from The Scotsman's version]
Because he (Abdul Latif Rashid) is Iraq's new Minister of Waterways, a representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a graduate of Manchester University and a former executive with British construction firm Halcrow. (Note that the sourcing for the detail about Halcrow is flaky. But, it further occurs to me, they are one of the very few British companies to get any reconstruction contracts.) None of this, it goes without saying, was mentioned in Blair's speech or in that by Shahid Malik of the Labour National Executive Committee introducing the leadership's motion.