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The Week That Was: Was It Worth It?

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There are many topics guaranteed to inflame debate, spark comment and flare tempers, but for this generation, the Iraq war remains one of the most contentious.

As we make tentative steps towards the 10-year anniversary of the invasion of Saddam Hussein's Iraq by US and UK forces, the subject has certainly lost none of its power to divide opinion.

Later this week, London will mark 10 years since the historic march against what was then an imminent invasion of Iraq. Whether you took part or not, it's unlikely you'll forget the photos of up to two million people descending on the capital - making it one of the biggest days of protest in British history - in an effort to persuade Tony Blair's government to stay its hand (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/06/iraq-ten-years-since-the-protest-march_n_2631329.html).

With that date keenly in mind, last Thursday, HuffPost UK hosted a debate at Goldsmith's University in London, posing the polemic but pertinent question: Was it worth it?

In front of more than 700 people, a panel of eight debated both for and against the question, prompting both support and heated outcries from an inflamed audience.

It is a brave person today who is prepared to defend the Iraq war, knowing their opinion is unlikely to be the populist choice, but the right honourable Bernard Jenkin MP did just that. He was joined by journalist David Aaronovitch; Dr Ali Latif, founder and current chair of the Iraqi Prospect Organisation, and Shiraz Maher, senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at Kings College London.

On the anti-war side, we had former Blair cabinet member Clare Short, novelist and activist Haifa Zangana, and journalists Owen Jones and Mehdi Hasan.

You can watch highlights of the debate here. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/08/hpiraq10-video-highlights_n_2644258.html

Or track the night's standout quotes and statements on our live blog.
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/07/iraq-10-years-on-was-it-worth-it-liveblog_n_2638000.html

If you want to add your voice to the debate, email our blogs team (ukblogeds@huffingtonpost.com) to contribute.

A different kind of history was being made in the House of Commons this week, with MPs voting convincingly in favour of the motion to make gay marriage legal.

What could have and should have been an historic step forward, was overshadowed by the number of Conservative MPs who voted in opposition to their leader.

Newspaper headlines the following day focused not on what the vote meant to the gay community, but what it meant to David Cameron's future as the leader of his party, and the country.

What it really means is not yet set in stone, with the bill still only in its infancy. CNN may have reported that the UK had made gay marriage legal, but we are still some way off that being a reality. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/08/gay-marriage-opponents-re_n_2644312.html

If David Cameron disappointed a swathe of his backbenchers with his gay marriage vote, he appeared to have won them back round by the end of the week after he agreed with other European leaders to cut the European Union Budget. (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/08/european-union-budget-cut_n_2646201.html)

Here again, all may not be what it seems, with MEPs still in a position to veto the cuts. The European Parliament president, Martin Schulz, has already confirmed he will call a secret ballot, allowing MEPs to effectively vote against the measures.

So there we have it. Our representatives in Europe are in a position to confidentially vote against the overwhelming wishes of parliament, a bill gets past its first reading even when the majority of the largest party in government oppose it, and ten years after the government takes the country to war, the population at large still believe it was the wrong decision.

How wonderfully messy democracy is.

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