POLITICS

Hilary Benn's Speech Compared To Tony Blair's Iraq War 'Oratory' By John McDonnell - Not In A Good Way

03/12/2015 08:46 GMT | Updated 03/12/2015 10:59 GMT

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has compared Hilary Benn's well received Commons speech advocating airstrikes against Isis in Syria to Tony Blair's pre-Iraq War speech in 2003.

"I thought Hilary, his oratory was great. It reminded me of Tony Blair’s speech taking us into the Iraq War and I’m always anxious about the greatest oratory is going to lead us to the greatest mistakes as well," he said.

BBC Radio 4's Today programme presenter Nick Robinson pointed out this was not exactly "the greatest compliment" given McDonnell thinks Blair is a war criminal and that the invasion of Iraq was illegal.

McDonnell said: "That’s not the language I’m using. I’m just saying sometimes the greatest oratory can lead us to the greatest mistakes and that’s what it did in Iraq and I fear we made the mistake last night."

Last night the Commons approved David Cameron's plans to launch military strikes against Isis in Syria with a vote of 397 to 223 in favour - a majority of 174.

Jeremy Corbyn opposed to strikes. However 66 Labour MPs voted with the government including Benn - the shadow foreign secretary.

Benn's closing speech for Labour was greeted with the highly unusual scene of applause across all sides of the Commons.

He told MPs: "We are here faced by fascists - not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in this chamber - they hold us in contempt.

"They hold our values in contempt, they hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt, they hold our democracy - the means by which we will make our decision tonight - in contempt. But what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated."

RAF Tornado jets have carried out the first British bombing runs. The airstrikes were carried out within hours of a vote by MPs.

Tony Blair's pre-Iraq war Commons speech:

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