13 YEARS ON

by Outreach ~ July 12th, 2016. Filed under: News.

Robin Brookes, war tax resister and Conscience committee member, talks about his decision to start withholding taxes

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                             Conscience members at the 2003 march against the Iraq war


Thirteen years ago I made the decision to withhold my taxes.

Thirteen years since George Bush and Tony Blair began their ‘adventure’ in Iraq which has set fire to the Middle East, the ashes of which Chilcot and his team have raked over to eventually publish a report.

Will this be just a whitewash like the others or will it be third time lucky? Will there be a thorough and unfettered exposition and will people be brought to account?

Blair has said he is sorry he got it wrong about WMD, well there were consequences of what he did.  More than a hundred thousand powerless civilians were killed, many more injured and their homes, workplaces and state infrastructure wrecked.  There should be consequences for Blair – as there would be for anyone who had caused death through recklessness.

As I watched Blair and Bush wind up for a war in Iraq it became immediately clear that I could not be involved, and in fact had a moral duty to resist the path to war.  Behind this decision lay 12 years of deliberation considering the role my taxes played in preparing for war.  I didn’t act before because I feared the consequences for my family and the people we employed in our small company, but this needless act of belligerence swept away all doubts.

In becoming a conscientious objector I was not trying to disengage myself from the conflict, in fact I was engaging with it non-violently.  Millions of others felt the same, which is why a million and a half people joined the biggest demonstration there has ever been in London.  Millions more demonstrated around our country and around the world.

Don’t give up!  There are ways to truly resolve conflicts and there have been some notable examples*.  Even the government has made slight progress towards this by setting up the minutely funded CSSF, managed by the FCO, DFID and the MOD, which seeks to de-escalate conflicts around the world through diplomacy and development work.

Continue to add your voice to the call for an end to all war. Demand that the Chilcot enquiry brings the perpetrators of the Iraq War to account.  If you, like me, cannot bear to fuel the military machine, which continues to lay the foundations for future war and conflict – Support the Peace Tax Bill – a 10-minute Rule motion which is to be read in Parliament on 19th July.  Write a personal statement of conscience to build up Conscience: Taxes for Peace Not War’s rapidly growing body of witness against war.

*Footnote
The formation of the European Coal and Steel Union which became the EU, which we have left, and the formation of the European Court of Human rights, which Teresa May would like to separate us from as well.  Also the Good Friday agreement which is also now jeopardised by last month’s fracturing.  Be vigilant, there are damaging forces at work which would undo all the good work done so far.


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