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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 October, 2004, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Labour Party debate on Iraq: Your views
A British soldier takes up a position during a street patrol in the southern city of Basra, Iraq
The foreign secretary has insisted British troops are not "occupying" Iraq.

Jack Straw warned in a speech to the Labour Party conference that "today's scourge" was international terrorism. He said an early withdrawal of troops from Iraq would be disastrous .

A conference motion supporting British troops remaining in Iraq for as long as the Iraq government wanted them was backed by delegates, following a deal with union leaders.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the New Statesman magazine the Tory leader Michael Howard accused Mr Blair of lying over the build-up to war.

Should the government give a date for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq? Do you agree with the foreign secretary?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for comments.

Your comments:

Yes, the government should give a date for withdrawal
Bruce Buchanan, Cheltenham
Yes, the government should give a date for withdrawal and work towards handing over responsibility for security to the Iraqis and/or the UN.
Bruce Buchanan, Cheltenham

I do not agree with the foreign secretary. I think he is lying by saying that the occupying forces will leave Iraq when asked by an elected government in Iraq. He knows that the elected government will never ask that ,because he knows it will be a pro America & Britain government .The real question one must ask what was the reason for occupying Iraq .I think one can get the answer with Mr. Bush 's and Blair's Masters "The Zionists" .
Faris, Baghdad-Iraq

British troops are in Iraq under the leadership of the elected majority of the British people. That majority supports them to get the job done.
Bryan Lawday, Port Elizabeth,South Africa

Of course we need to be there
Stuart, Herts UK
Of course we need to be there. We have an obligation as one of the leaders of democracy to change the world for the better. Like it or not Saddam Hussein is finished.
Stuart, Herts UK

It is time this government ignored the United States of America, Iraq needs stability, and stability cannot be achieved by marching in and placing up a paper thin democracy and then marching out. Instead it is essential for occupation to continue as long as it is necessary to secure the safety of the Iraqi people. Yet to do this we must change our image, we are not oppressors and we are not fighters we are the neighbour who was there when the people needed them.
Charlotte Harris, Richmond, England

The sheer childishness of calls for Blair to apologise and for troops to be withdrawn given conditions as they are right now is astonishing. It is easy to be decisive and make futile gestures when you have no responsibility for the outcome. The immaturity of the know-alls in this debate makes me fear for sensible debate in future. It seems that we are stuck for good with personality-based schoolyard politics.
Michael, Bolton, UK

It should be a decision for the people of Britain and Iraq to vote on, instead of deals drawn up behind everyone's backs. Our troops should be brought home as they are the ones having to deal with the problems being caused by other troops who unfortunately, only dominate our British soldiers in numbers, certainly not in diplomacy and experience, so let them get on with it and see how far their shoot now, ask questions later policy gets them.
Kez, Wokingt, Surrey

People are dying not for their country, but a political lie, if we do not pull out now we will loose dozens more.
J. Evans, Brighton U
I served in the Royal Navy for 22 years and totally disagree with being in Iraq. Blair lied to us, Blair and the MOD sent our troops into battle with all the wrong kit, putting thousands at risk, Civil servants allowed this to happen, Because of this we should withdraw immediately, we were mislead, lied to, and used as apolitical tool. People are dying not for their country, but a political lie, if we do not pull out now we will loose dozens more.
J. Evans, Brighton UK

Delegates voting to keep British troops in Iraq for as long as the Iraqi government wanted them have betrayed us all. The British military is supposedly to defend our country, not to act as some kind of mercenary force for American puppet regimes!
Biran, Wirral, England

Setting a date is a wrong move. Firstly, it looks as if we're eager to flee the country if we're setting dates without knowing what the conditions will be like then. Then, if we go over that date, it will be used for political tactics. We should stay in the country as long as is needed for the Iraqis to get back on their feet, that should be the deadline.
Tony, UK

It took 18 months to understand what was conceived was wrong. Now the labour pain has started let us watch what is going to be delivered.
Bhavadasan, India

Iraq is a mess: we should never have gone in
Carol Philip, Oxford
Iraq is a mess: we should never have gone in, but now that we are there we cannot withdraw until democracy is established. To withdraw now would send an immediate signal to the terrorists that they have won with even more disastrous consequences.
Carol Philip, Oxford

The UK is only providing surrogate US troops. If the UK pulls out the US will replace them - and the USA will then be paying the full cost of their war instead of us subsidising them.
John Richmond, Newbury, UK

This will probably help George Bush get four more years in office. And, more of your own troops will die for nothing.
Dick Williams, Nashville USA

I think that the reality of the situation is being obscured by semantics. If a superpower were to invade an African or Asian country and then install a puppet fascist regime using force and selective elections, would that be called an occupation or not? By the same token, US does not occupy South Korea and Puerto Rico, China does not occupy Taiwan and Israel does not occupy Palestine. The bottom line is this: The US and the UK went to Iraq looking for WMD and Saddam. They've got Saddam and there are no WMD. They should admit they screwed up and get out of Iraq. Now.
Waqqas H. Khan, St. Louis, MO

Messy and unpopular occupations always end in shameful withdrawals
Erik Pattison, Bow, London
It is a fantasy that Iraq will be stabilised any time soon. Messy and unpopular occupations always end in shameful withdrawals. Lets face the shame now rather than later.
Erik Pattison, Bow, London

We can't pull out now but should never have gone in, in the first place. We need hard factual evidence before we go invading countries.
Grahame Heatlie, Livingston, Scotland

There are no winners here. If we withdraw, we lose and if we stay, we lose. If we stay we lose lives. If we leave we lose face. Losing face is the harder choice for a Government preoccupied by spin and outward appearance.
Chris, Swansea

Sooner or later we will have to pull the troops out
Adrian Holme, London, UK
As an ordinary Labour Party member my view is that we are engaged in an unjust war against the Iraqi resistance. Even though the motion to set a date for pulling out troops was defeated it is very encouraging that a significant body of opinion in the party is utterly opposed to this war. Sooner or later we will have to pull the troops out because the bulk of the Iraqi people obviously do not want US and British troops occupying their country. The war is morally wrong and politically stupid.
Adrian Holme, London, UK

So the trade union block vote saved Tony's face eh! Old Labour coming to the aid of New Labour. That'll cost him!
Richard, Wortham, UK

A dirty deal has been struck behind closed doors with union chiefs. This vote is a farce; I think we all know people's true feelings as regards UK involvement in Iraq. The union chiefs should be utterly ashamed.
Tony J, Perth, Scotland

As a Unison activist I have to say I'm annoyed our leadership did a deal to head off a debate on troop withdrawal when it's the clear policy decided at our own conference. This is too important to fret about embarrassing Blair, lives are being lost daily and occupying Iraq isn't helping us or them.
Ben Drake, York, UK

Right or wrong we are there and must see it through, to leave now would be the height of stupidity. Blair will not leave anyway, he does not believe in democracy as he proved when he went in the first place. He has a majority in the house and forces the rest of the party to vote as he sees fit, not according to their own consciences.
Chris, UK

It smacks of hypocrisy
Malcolm McCandless, Dundee, Scotland
Since the trade union leadership were actively anti-war it is very surprising to see, once more, the unions block other anti-war activists from having a proper debate at conference. It smacks of hypocrisy.
Malcolm McCandless, Dundee, Scotland

Finish the job! I think to leave now would be scandalous. The sacrifices made by the Iraqi people and by our own armed forces would have been in vain. If anybody is to vote on when our armed forces leave Iraq it should be the Iraqi people.
Adam Bonner, Cambridge, UK

Yes, an early date for is essential for withdrawal, together with a statement of stating that the US and UK has no interest in interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign Iraq. Jack Straw is wrong as usual on Iraq when he says "we are not occupiers". That might have fooled the Labour Conference, but the majority of Iraqis think the Coalition are occupiers and should leave asap.
John P, Birmingham, UK

After the backstairs deal to save Tony Blair's skin over the Iraq vote, could we be told what Blair gave the unions in return? Endorsing an illegal invasion should at least be worth the repeal of Thatcher's anti-union laws.
Michael McCarthy, Ealing, UK

Everybody seems so concerned not to embarrass Blair and his government. Political politeness and comradeship come first, accountability and justice second!
Antonio, London, UK

Iraq was invaded over a year ago so why has it taken the Labour Party so long to debate the issue? The Bush/Blair occupation will never succeed because the Iraqi people didn't ask them to invade in the first place so the sooner we get out the better it will be for all concerned.
Richard Cotton, London, UK

Please can somebody explain why the trade unions feel the need to get involved in foreign policy? I though they were there to stand up for workers rights...
Peter, Nottingham, UK

We owe it to the Iraqi people to finish the job
Andy, Cheshire, UK
Rightly or wrongly, we are there, and we owe it to the Iraqi people to finish the job. Furthermore, it is a little late for voting now, and choosing an arbitrary date will not help. Despite the complex mess we are now in, I think the professionalism shown by our British armed forces during these difficult times serves as a model to the rest of the world.
Andy, Cheshire, UK

Andy, Cheshire, UK is right, we do have to finish our job of reconstructing Iraq. However, I want to see the concrete steps that will be taken to prevent the future illegal invasion of a sovereign nation. Until the government starts to show some degree of humility over this sick war, I'm afraid the spilled milk argument doesn't wash.
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands (ex UK)

I've been listening to the conference this morning and EVERY cabinet member sounds like Tony Blair! Tony didn't write their speeches did he? Let's face it he tells them what to think and say. I say pull out now - we never should have gone.
Sarah, Derby

I do not think it either possible nor practicable to "name a day" for troop removal. The sensible view would be to remain so long as the Iraqi government requests that we stay, and I see that this has been proposed. Let's hope they ask us to leave sooner rather than later!
Chris Green, Hagley, Worcs, England

To withdraw our troops before Iraq is ready to look after itself would be a worse crime than starting the war in the first place. I was against the war, and I still believe that some politicians' heads should roll for the debacle in the run up for war, but that does not mean I believe we should pull out of Iraq. Now we are there, we must stay the course. If we pull out now the terrorists will win and the Iraqis will lose.
Dudley Nelson, Ilkley, UK

It is NOT the UK's war and we have NO right being there. What a farce - Jack straw shakes hands with Mugabe after telling us that they are proud to have ousted a dictator such as Saddam. Hypocrisy seem to have taken on a new meaning
John Foster

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