David Cameron blocks report that exposes Tony Blair's Iraq war crimes
While David Cameron was laying wreaths of poppies at the Cenotaph this weekend, to remember the past war dead, he has been blocking an inquiry set up to tell the truth about the war in Iraq.
That is the meaning of the refusal of the Cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, to release records of conversations between then prime minister and US president George Bush, in the run up to the war on Iraq.
These records have been demanded repeatedly by the Chilcot inquiry, set up when Gordon Brown was prime minister, back in 2009. Chilcot said then that his inquiry would take a year and a half, or maybe a bit longer. That would have seen it report over two years ago. But now its publication date has been pushed back into 2014 at least.
While many people were always sceptical that Chilcot's team, handpicked from the British establishment, would land a mortal blow on the former prime minister who now poses as envoy for peace in the Middle East, at the same time no one expected the report to take so long. The hold up will be because the aforementioned Tony Blair wants it to be held up, and he would not be able to do so without the collusion of Cameron.
So whereas the Chilcot Inquiry was set up supposedly to investigate what went wrong in the run up to war in Iraq, the very people responsible for what went wrong are blocking its publication. Tony Blair remains at large urging us on to further wars, most recently in Syria.
In the meantime, records of an estimated 130 conversations between Blair and Bush and then Brown and Bush are being blocked by this top civil servant. In addition there are 25 notes from Blair to Bush and 200 cabinet level discussions also being withheld. This adds up to a lot of conversations, the majority probably damaging to Bush and Blair.
There is a lot at stake here, because Chilcot is trying to get at the precise point at which Blair agreed to go to war alongside Bush over Iraq.
If, as many of us suspect, this deal was made early in 2002, a full year before the invasion actually took place, it would show a conspiracy to go to war which not only ignored its legality or otherwise, but also a wilful series of deceits carried out by Blair and his allies.
The whole charade of government actions in the months before the war would be shown to be just that: the 45 minutes dossier, the distortion of intelligence findings, the demands for a second UN resolution, the blaming of the French for scuppering such a resolution, the pretence of wanting peace if Saddam Hussein would give up his (non existent)weapons of mass destruction.
All these were just so much spin and softening up, trying to get the public and MPs to agree to a war which had already been decided on, and which was clearly about regime change.
Blair's tactic now is to delay as long as possible in the hope that time will soften opinion against him, and that he will be able to continue in a highly political role. Compare Blair's role in international politics to that of any previous modern British prime minister to see how centrally, lucratively, and damagingly, involved he still is. A hostile Chilcot report would make it impossible for him to continue that role, and would open up the long overdue possibility of his facing war crimes proceedings.
As government ministers huff and puff about whistleblowers' revelations about state surveillance, we should remember that they have a lot to hide. All discussions between the main protagonists in taking us to war in Iraq should be made public so we can judge for ourselves who was at fault. There is no justifiable reason for secrecy except to save the faces of those involved, and to allow them to remain rich, powerful and protected.
We owe it to the millions who suffered from the Iraq war and to the millions who demonstrated against it, to ensure that the truth comes out.