Blair worked for his own agenda and avarice

IT would be disingenuous to ask why all the fuss about the Chilcot Report. But the excitement caused by the delay in publishing does throw up questions about what is expected of it.

What can it reveal that is not already known or suspected? It was well reported at the time that the weapons inspectors were withdrawn before their mission was complete and without finding anything significant.

It was well known, thanks to Dr Kelly, that the dossier Blair presented in support of his actions was not a faithful representation of the inspectors’ views. It is also clear that Blair not only paid no attention to Parliament or public opinion, he made sure that neither mattered very much.

His speeches at the time (”If you knew what I know...”) lacked both credibility and dignity, but he did not seem to mind. And when that happens — you know that he knows you know he is lying — you can be sure you are not being held in particularly high regard.

Certainly that has happened before, it would be foolish to think otherwise, but nobody did it quite as openly as Blair. All concern for decency, humanity and the rule of law was brazenly trampled underfoot in service of the ambitions of a few powerful men. They couldn’t even be bothered to pretend.

When challenged after the event, Blair moved effortlessly from the imminent dangers of weapons of mass destruction to justifiable regime change without batting an eyelid. Again he did not care that his explanations were thought to be weak and shallow, he was serving his own personal agenda and that alone was what mattered to him.

The reasons for the delay are hardly more convincing. Blair was a public servant acting in his official capacity. No one would deny him and Bush the opportunity to ‘think out lou’', and a reluctance to publish every last message is understandable.  But this is, or claims to be, a democracy and there must be official communications, which, unless subject to the 30 year rule, would be perfectly adequate to explain the British decision to go to war in Iraq.

The vast majority are already convinced that the decision cannot be explained in the usual way and that it would not stand up to much scrutiny. It had nothing to do with the furtherance of British interests. Nothing whatsoever to do with humanitarian interests or regional stability. And it had precious little to do with loyalty to to a close ally. It was all about Blair’s avarice.

Having see how well even John Major (mocked as dull grey by Spitting Image) had prospered on the North American public speaking circuit, Blair determined to do everything in his power to build his popularity over the water, ready for when the time was right to cash in.

There was almost nothing he would not do to boost his approval ratings in the USA.  In any crisis anywhere in the world, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, you name it, you would find him shamelessly hogging the limelight. No good ever came of it though, did it, except, of course, for Blair himself.

In some senses the Chilcot Report is already redundant. If it does not support the popular view it will be derided as a whitewash. If it does, so what? Chilcot has no teeth.  He cannot hold people to account or bring anyone to book. Therefore, if we are to benefit from the expenditure of our £9m then lessons have to be learned. The first of which should be that the value of our traditional parliamentary style of government is properly appreciated. Then we should take steps to ensure it is fully restored.

The Executive, including the Prime Minister, must be made to explain their decisions and answer for their actions to Parliament, and there ought to be penalties for failure or refusal to do so.

As a modest first step I offer this suggestion to our MPs; Sarah, Sir Kevin, John, go to The House and propose a minor change to the procedure at PMQs. Thus:  Questions to be put to, and then voiced by The Speaker. There are three possible benefits.

Firstly, that questions are likely to be more considered, thus we might see some gravitas creeping into the debates. Secondly, the Prime Minister would have to be more attentive to the substance of the questions that are asked. Mr Speaker cannot be treated with the same disdain that other members are treated. Third, it might even go some way to reducing the playground politics on display every Wednesday lunchtime. Wouldn’t that be a bonus? Surely worth a try, isn’t it?

Richard Beeley, Maltby