How The People newspaper endangered `our boys in the desert' (and helped put all our lives at risk)

In spring 2003, when Prime Minister Bliar was desperately determined to become a war criminal, it was our responsibility as citizens to oppose the illegal invasion of Iraq.

For reasons known only to its editors, The People newspaper decided not only to support the war (as was its right) but also to suppress all criticism of the impending military action.

In a move which was reminiscent of the worst and most oppressive actions of the Soviet Government during the 1960s the paper's editors refused to publish material questioning the validity, legality or morality of the war. This was censorship. But it was censorship which, it is now clear, resulted in putting British soldiers at risk and in endangering the lives of all British citizens.

The People newspaper claimed that it was supporting `our boys and girls in the desert' (the patronising phrase is theirs not mine) but it is now clear that by giving wholehearted, unquestioning support to a war mongering Prime Minister the newspaper was betraying the very people it was claiming to protect.

If The People had not supported Bliar so enthusiastically, if they had questioned the validity of the war, then it is likely that the British soldiers who have died in Iraq would still be alive and that British citizens whose lives are now endangered by terrorists would be much safer than they are.

It is too much to expect that the editors of The People who made this expensive error be fired (their support for the war will have been greeted with enthusiasm by the American shareholders of Trinity Mirror and, of course, by the British Government) and too much to expect an apology.

A little quiet shame and embarrassment would not be out of place.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2004