THE "POLITICAL manipulation" of the government's case for war against Iraq in 2003 is now clearer than it has ever been. ... These [the documents] show the extent of the political duplicity that was a signature of this phase of Tony Blair's time in power.
Recall the fake outcry and controlled indignation there was from the government when it was accused of "sexing up" the notorious dossier. Recall the statements of denial from senior Cabinet ministers of any wrong-doing that were given to the Hutton Inquiry, especially the testimony of the then defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, or the material given to Hutton from Alastair Campbell, then effectively Britain's real deputy prime minister. Yet we now learn - and this comes as no surprise to newspapers such as this one which dug deep into the government's case and found it severely wanting - that there was a climate of disbelief among key defence and intelligence officials at how the case for war was being presented with qualified information offered up as certain and verified.
The harsh truth is that New Labour under Tony Blair, subverted Britain's democratic processes in the way it chose to spin the case for a war.
The same process of spin and cover-up were taken by Labour into the 2005 general election. The result of that poll reflected the degree to which Blair and New Labour had lost the trust of the electorate. But what would the result have been if the extent of the duplicity over Iraq had been revealed? It is unlikely Blair would have been able to survive as the leader of his party. The position of those inside the Cabinet who had supported Blair unconditionally - and this includes the then chancellor, Gordon Brown, who remained silent on Iraq - would have been equally difficult.
Hutton's conclusion and, equally, the conclusions of Lord Butler's follow-up investigation, have had their validity eroded by the release of these previously protected emails and memos.
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Scotland's Sunday Herald has a superb opinion piece looking back at the Iraq dossier documents released last week: