When Tam got thrown out of the House by corrupt Speaker, Michael Martin for insisting on a debate on Iraq
A Brave Internationalist and anti-imperialist
It is with genuine sadness that I learnt tonight of the death
of Tam Dalyell. He was one of the most
extraordinary Labour MPs, an Old Etonian.
For much of his time in the House of Commons he was on the
Right of the Party. A technocratic MP
who was always avidly pro-nuclear. Tam truly merited the adjective eccentric. He was anything but predictable.
Tam left the House of Commons as a member of the
left-wing Campaign Group of MPs. First
elected in a by-election in 1962 for the constituency of West Lothian, he
retired in 2005 as MP for Linlithgow and Father of the House, which he had once
been ordered to leave by the corrupt and useless speaker, Michael Martin, who
was sunk by the expenses scandal which he tried to cover up.
I met Tam once,
when I was chairing a meeting which I
organised at Brighton Polytechnic on the Falklands/Malvinas War. He was impressive as a speaker and because of
his fierce opposition to imperialist war.
He opposed the Suez War, which led him to join the Labour Party. He accused
Thatcher of being a war criminal for her sinking of the Argentinian
ship, the General Belgrano, which was attacked outside the British imposed
exclusion zone sailing away from it. He
was fiercely opposed to the Iraq war and had no hesitation in calling Tony
Blair a war criminal.
Tam was also opposed to Scottish devolution and coined what
became known as the West Lothian Question, viz. why should Scottish MPs vote on
English business when English MPs would no longer be able to vote on Scottish
affairs. Nonetheless he was on a losing
wicket and devolution was introduced by New Labour following their victory in
When Tam got stuck into an issue he didn’t let go. An example was his conviction that it wasn’t the Libyans who had planted a bomb on the Pan-am jet that came down over Lockerbie. He fought against the conviction of Al-Megrahi who he rightly believed had been framed for the sake of Britain saving face.
Touring the marshes in Iraq
When you look around the Labour benches today, not least
amongst those on the Left you realise that there is no one of the calibre of