The SNP is right to propose today’s debate and it’s a blot on any notion of democracy that Blair & co are not held to account

Lindsey German


‘The argument that Blair was not motivated by deceit – put by Labour MP Ian Austin in parliament today – is disingenuous’

Today sees the second parliamentary debate relating to the Chilcot report. And, like the previous one, it demonstrates that for the majority of MPs they have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing about that most disastrous of modern interventions, the Iraq war.

Called by the Scottish National Party as an opposition day debate, it was an attempt to recognise that Tony Blair had misled parliament and that there should be further scrutiny by parliamentary committee. This was too much for the spokesmen for both major parties, who argued against the move on the grounds that those who took us into this war did so in ‘good faith’.

The concept itself doesn’t stand much scrutiny. Why should we expect politicians to act in good faith rather than exercise their judgment, as they are surely elected to do? And why should we have to accept time and again that their good faith precluded them from understanding what millions of people knew at the time?

It is particularly shameful that so many MPs are rallying in defence of Tony Blair, including so many Labour MPs. The Labour right wing is rapidly turning itself into a war party, justifying everything from arms sales to Saudi Arabia to further interventions in the Middle East. It cannot accept that its hero Blair I regarded as the opposite by so many people.

We are told that Blair was not found to have lied to Chilcot. That’s true – but did he mislead parliament and public? There’s an overwhelming case from Chilcot itself, which found that there was no imminent threat from Saddam, that the existence of WMD was never beyond doubt, that there was a failure of democratic accountability and government. Blair’s note to Bush ‘I will be with you, whatever’ sealed the deal on an agreement to go to war which was all about creating the facts to fit the case.

Therefore the argument that Blair was not motivated by deceit – put by Labour MP Ian Austin in parliament today – is disingenuous. Chilcot was never set up to find that Blair lied. Indeed as recently reported it was set up to avoid blame. Did Blair omit, underplay, withhold information, and pressurise MPs in all sorts of ways to get them to vote for war? Yes he did. Did his spin doctor claim that Saddam’s (non-existent) WMD could hit British interests in 45 minutes? Yes he did.

Alex Slamond and his SNP colleagues are right to propose this debate, and it is a blot on any notion of democracy that there has been no holding to account of the main characters involved.

The legacy of that war is still haunting politics in Britain and the US. Those who don’t learn the lessons of that war are doomed to repeat the mistakes.

30 Nov 2016

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