Afghan about-face from Labour leader 'bizarre and disgraceful'

30 April 2010

Afghan about-face from Labour leader 'bizarre and disgraceful'

SP Member of Parliament and foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel described the behaviour of Labour Party leader Job Cohen as "bizarre and disgraceful" as Cohen expressed support for sending hundreds of Dutch soldiers to Afghanistan. The Labour leader's statement came only days after last week's vote by Labour in Parliament against the proposal. "Labour broke with its coalition partners and brought the government down over Afghanistan, but now wants to send hundreds of soldiers and police officers there. How often can you do this kind of about face before the voters have been driven mad by it? I find it bizarre and disgraceful. You can't carry on like this with the voters, and you don't treat soldiers like that!"

Harry van BommelIn February the PvdA (Labour Party) left the government because of its demand that 'the last soldier return from Uruzgan this year.' That was the promise made to the Dutch people, and as the Labour leader at the time Wouter Bos said, a promise is a promise. The fall of the government meant that elections must be held, and these were fixed for 9th June. "Originally the PvdA seemed resolute," recalled Van Bommel. "Last week the Labour parliamentary group voted with us against a rather odd proposal from D66 and the Green Left to send police officers and soldiers to Afghanistan. Yet hardly a week later Cohen, as the new party leader, completely reverses his own group's decision. It's not good! Don't forget that the PvdA has already once before reversed its position on the Netherlands' participation in this hopeless war in Afghanistan. Because of that previous about face, we've been in that country two years longer than was originally agreed. When it came to an enquiry into the war in Iraq, the PvdA was also like a spinning top. One thing is certain: as far as issues of war go, nobody knows what you'll get from Labour."

Van Bommel hopes that the voters will yet put a block on a new military mission in Afghanistan. "The elections on June 9th have now become even more important. They were about how we can get out of this enormous economic crisis in a socially progressive manner, but now they're also about how we can get out of this hopeless war in Afghanistan. Most Dutch people want that, but politicians do what they like. This must stop."

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