Here we go again. Giving evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry at about 15.11 this afternoon Alistair Campbell, former Director of Communications repeated the lie. Therein rests a constitutional problem (unwritten of course), which may help explain how we ended up going to war.
Forget whitewash. John Chilcot has already done his job. That is according to this correspondent in today's Guardian:
Under international law, armed intervention against a sovereign state
can only be legally justified in cases of a "threat to the peace,
breach of the peace, or act of aggression"; the inquiry has already
established, on the basis of the most authoritative testimony possible,
that none of these conditions applied in the case of Iraq.
What's the case for any further delay in handing the matter over to the international judicial authorities?
Just before the PM's announcement of the terms of Second Iraq War Inquiry I blogged asserting among other things:
Any attempt to save his predecessor's blushes, his own or those of the
opposition Conservative Party are unlikely to endear him to the
electorate, or the vast majority of Labour Party members.
So it proved. Worse, the Sunday papers have outed the First Secretary of State m'Lord Mandelson and former Prime Minister Tony Blair as the main influences on what has proved to be another unmitigated PR disaster for Gordon Brown.
This has prompted me to think about how former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher coped when she was isolated. Step forward Willie Whitelaw. There is a rather good account of his role in a review of his official biography by Malcolm Rifkind published in the Staggers. Brown is of urgent need of a counterbalance inside the Cabinet to m'Lord Mandelson to reconnect with his Party, core vote and electoral coalition on whom his acclaimed place in history will depend. If the events of this week haven't persuaded him, we on the Left should all be worried. As if we weren't worried enough already.
I'm just hoping that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown is going to take everyone by surprise and announce an open and wide-ranging inquiry into the second Iraq War at 3.30pm this afternoon. Any attempt to save his predecessor's blushes, his own or those of the opposition Conservative Party are unlikely to endear him to the electorate, or the vast majority of Labour Party members.
UPDATE: 1600 - Open - NO, wide-ranging - POSSIBLY, timetable - too long, subject to parliamentary debate - NO. Personally, this is not a statement I could defend in public, given repeated statements from the PM about openness and accountability. Another lost opportunity.