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Iraq war inquiry - lessons to be learnt

Nick Robinson | 17:50 UK time, Monday, 15 June 2009

After six years, the deaths of 179 British military personnel and countless more Iraqis, the government has finally agreed to set up an inquiry into the war that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Yet before it has even held its first session, it faces the charge that it will be an establishment stitch-up held behind closed doors whose conclusions are timed to come out after the next general election.

British soldier in Iraq

The prime minister can reply that he has granted just what the Conservatives have spent years demanding - a private inquiry by the great and the good - just like the Franks Report into the Falklands War.

He deploys the vastly expensive and interminably long inquiry into Bloody Sunday to argue that public inquiries all too often focus on the defence of individuals rather than the search for truth or lessons to be learnt.

Ever so quietly, some in Whitehall add that the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly proves that no inquiry - however public - will ever satisfy some.

Nevertheless, today's announcement is already facing criticism from keen advocates of the conflict as well as from its bitterest opponents.

The Chilcott Inquiry is being presented as an examination by experts of the lessons to be learnt from the Iraq war. The men Gordon Brown has chosen are familiar with the complexities, the compromises and the uncertainties involved in British intelligence, diplomacy and military planning.

It will not be a naming of the allegedly "guilty men", nor an opportunity for a public airing of the political wounds opened by the Iraq war. Nor a healing process.

The reaction to today's announcement suggests that may never actually be possible.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    If I never hear the phrase 'Lessons to be learnt' again it will be too soon.

    There are more than lessons that need to be learnt from this whole debacle and once again Gordon fails to provide what he promised some months ago. What a shame for those who lost loved ones.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yes Brown has really changed. He is now worse than a week ago.
    What price loyalty you labour MPs. Can't wait to hear the spin the ministers put on this one.
    Shame on you Brown - resign now!

  • Comment number 3.

    The Government denied an open enquiry before on the grounds that it would harm the interests of forces serving in Iraq at the time. On that basis, since they're not serving there any more, it should be open now we're out.

    So it does look ever so much like an exercise designed to defer any possible responsibility until after anyone relevant has left office after an election, never mind the fact that the public who supposedly authorise governments in our name to look after wars and defence won't have a chance to influence or observe the inquiry.

    The Government is acting without much honour. Again.

  • Comment number 4.

    What a complete waste of time - just who is Gordon Brown kidding, a private enquiry? Why not just save the money? What a sham.

    I wonder what our unelected prime minister and his unelected first secretary of state will be doing by the time it reports. Perhaps when it does report, we won't be such a pathetic excuse for a democracy.

    Consequently, isn't the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague supposed to investigate this sort of thing or can we only get Nick Robinson's 'guilty men' on expenses?

  • Comment number 5.

    When allied to the recent pronouncements about the need to protect Cabinet papers from the FoI, this announcement about the enquiry being held in private, has the whiff & bluster of the Establishment telling us that they know best.
    This is not a plank in building confidence of the people in their leaders. The recent hollow ring of confidence in politics, both with a capital & small case initial, is rattled to the core.

  • Comment number 6.

    It doesn't sound like this is the inquiry that people are waiting for, whether it's public or private.

    But history can judge, and historians will judge.

    Keeping people off the hook for now does not mean they'll remain of it forever, if they ought not to.

  • Comment number 7.

    How many lessons does this dispicable govt need to learn?

    How may lessons have they not learned? - well, this is one of them. Brown can ponificate till he draws his last breath, the problem for him and this outrageous govt is simple: WE SIMPLY DO NOT BELIEVE YOU OR ANYTHING YOU SAY...

    ...and this report will be more of the same.

    Timing, as ever is impeccable. I can tell you in two seconds what needs to be learnt:

    STOP TELLING LIES!

    Simple as that!

  • Comment number 8.

    Since the Chilcot is going to be meeting in secret, there was no reason for the enquiry to be delayed until the troops left Iraq. Apart from a little matter of the timing of its conclusions, of course!

  • Comment number 9.

    Of course the inquest should be held in public - the government turned a deaf ear to the publics voice when it entered into the war: now it wishes to hide from the publics eyes.

    Wrong on so many levels.

  • Comment number 10.

    There is only one lesson that can be learned and it does not take a long, secretive, divisive inquiry to learn it.

    That lesson is simple. IF YOU HAVE TO LIE TO JUSTIFY WAR, THEN THE WAR IS NOT JUST!

    This will be another expensive whitewash. I will only believe it is otherwise, when Blair has been arrested and charged with war-crimes for his blatant lies over the immediate need to rush to war in Spring 2003 to remove WMD (which Blair KNEW Saddam no longer had).

    A full, open, public enquiry is needed to look specifically at WHAT PRECISELY the PM was told and when and what decisions where made under pressure from the white house.

    Blair lied to Parliament and to the country to get us into an un-necessary and illegal war of conquest and hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed and millions displaced as a result.

    Blair has a lot of blood on his hands and he should rot in prison.

  • Comment number 11.

    So the Inquiry will be limited, secret and won't report until after the next election.

    Quelle surprise! (as our Gallic cousins would say.) Normal service has been resumed at Westminster.

    What happened to the increased openness and changed style the Prime Minister promised only a week ago?

    And the Government affect bewilderment that no-one any longer believes anything they say...

  • Comment number 12.

    Nick, your second paragraph sums up what many anticipated. The critical issues of why the WMD case for war was exagerated and then changed and who should be held accountable for this shameful episode will be airbrushed into history. These questions remain unanswered. Why take a year? A report dossier could be written by any student or picked off the internet right now. Surely any culpability really should be openly investigated and held to account? This is the way to restore trust and the only lessons worth learning.
    Is your reference to the Conservatives wanting a private inquiry a mistake?

  • Comment number 13.

    Any inquiry into our part in this conflict is welcome. I hope it will provide answers to the reason for not waiting for the sanction of the United Nations before going ahead, although I fear we may never understand this.
    It is to be hoped the removal and execution of Saddam Hussein has been of long term benefit the people of Iraq. Sometimes conflicts are entered into without an adequate understanding of a country's culture and its people. Those I know who have served in the British Army in Iraq have explained to me that their role was mainly facilitating and training the people of Iraq in the policing and protections of their own country and its new democratic system of government.
    It is to be hoped the damage done to the irreplaceable archaeology of Iraq and the stolen artefacts from its museums can be repaired and restored, although I fear some of the damage done can never be repaired.
    For me, it is an appalling thought that our nation has taken part in a conflict in the "cradle of civilisation." Iraq is a place with an ancient history and civilisation its people can be proud of and the rest of the world could learn from, once the country is able to recover from the horrors of war.
    For the benefit of all of us, and especially Iraq, I hope the proposed inquiry can be as open and clear about the decision to enter into this conflict as possible

  • Comment number 14.

    Dear Nick,

    Another reason to hold this white wash in private is that we will never here the real facts about that 'dodgy dossier'. Shame really.

    Nu Labour, new ways to hide the truth.

    Xxxx

  • Comment number 15.

    How can a totally non military, non political committee interpret military and political documents? Never mind cross examining military or political witnesses and understanding what they are saying, or not saying, as the case maybe. This is a typical Brown, "smoke and mirrors," job. Brown`s cynicism in delaying publication of the committee`s findings, for at least a year, is a clear admission by him that Labour will not be in power after the next General Election. He and the rest of the Cabinet, who collectively sanctioned this illegal war, will be long gone - together with their inflation proof pensions and golden handshakes. The committee`s report will, I suspect talk in very general terms, blaming no one for the most disasterous political and military mistake in modern history.

  • Comment number 16.


    Of course it's a stitch-up and an insult to the families of servicemen and women. It's a sham, all carefully contrived for a bunch of cronies to meet in secret behind closed doors and report after the next general election.

    Whatever side you take on the rights or wrongs of the Iraq war, this announcement blows out of the water any pretence that Brown and New Labour have changed their spots and are set to usher in a new era of transparency and openness.

    Let's not forget the still raw anguish of the families of brave servicemen and women whose loved ones were sent to a bloody war, ill-equipped and duped into the Iraq killing fields on the back of a pack of lies and deceit.

    On a point of information wasn't the Hutton inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly also branded a whitewash? Will the truth ever be known?

    http://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/iraq-kept-in-dark-and-fed-on-shit.html

  • Comment number 17.

    The key difference between the Falklands and Iraq, are the political reasons and process that took us to war in Iraq.

    The timing of this enquiry proves that Labour cynically wish to sweep their political failings under the carpet. They are clearly planning to obscure the facts, by framing the nature of the enquiry themselves before they are booted out of government and a different government sets up a fair enquiry.

    The public marched on London to try and halt the invasion in the first place. We should do so again and demand an open enquiry.

  • Comment number 18.

    It's a bit like living in N Korea or Iran.

  • Comment number 19.

    Dear Nick

    This is not about what the Conservatives have been asking for. They supported the war. This is about what the public wants - openness and transparency.

    Peter Kenyon

    http://petergkenyon.typepad.com/peterkenyon/2009/06/iraq-war-ii-inquiry-will-it-be-open-and-wideranging.html

  • Comment number 20.

    A Public Enquiry is just that - Public. The Hutton Inquiry specifically edged-out the decisions on the lead-up to war in Iraq. This is more simply more Blairesque spin, so that Gordon Brown can proclaim that there has been an enquiry. A desparate stroke by an embattled PM.

    Would there really be a problem in naming and shaming unless there were people in positions of power that had something to be ashamed of. I suspect a public enquiry is only offered these days where society has a more damaging view that the truth would provide.

    Thankfully the majority don't need an enquiry, we are not as dim as politians would prefer.

  • Comment number 21.

    How desperately sad. Another nail in the coffin of honour. We are most dreadfully served. If democracy is the "rule of the people" then our elected representatives are signally out of the reach of meaningful and informed accountability. And they ask why fewer and fewer bother to exercise their right of suffrage. Honour ended in this country after the resignation of Lord Carrington nearly 30 years ago. The future looks bleak.

  • Comment number 22.

    An inquiry carried out in secret, no apportioning of blame and results not available until after the next election? A waste of time and money.It would be more credible if Brown had stuck with the "no inquiry because it would jeopardise security" excuse; this will be the same as other inquiries...Dr David Kelly's death, the dodgy dossier, Blair's lies to parliament.The outcome is always the same..nobody acted improperly, decisions were made on the basis of information provided to the PM, honestly thought to be correct at the time. Because of the cover-ups and spin, the inquiry will do more harm than good because people have already drawn their own conclusions. Blair took us into an illegal war, is responsible for thousands of Iraqi deaths and the lives of our soldiers....and got away with it. The only remedy is to consign his Nu Labour project to the dustbin of history.

  • Comment number 23.

    The real question is not whether there will be an inquiry, but how much of the information will be released to the public?

    I would guess that anything controversial, such as Tony Blair endorsing the war to ingratiate himself with the Americans or endorsing the War to boost labours popularity, will be hidden behind the FOI act.
    Heaven forbid that the general public find out that the war was illegal and the perpetrators were in fact war criminals.

    It beggars belief why you would want to destabilise the middle east by creating a huge Shiite controlled, anti western belt of nations reaching from Afghanistan across to Syria.

    On reflection, Iraq may have been better off as it was.
    A point that I am sure many Iraqis would agree with.

    Interestingly enough, Tony Blair has now positioned himself as the Quartet Envoy and is interfering in Israel and Palestine.
    I am not a religious scholar, but the parallels to Revelations is a little frightening.

    Thank god Obama is on the scene now though.

  • Comment number 24.

    18 Wee-Scamp wrote: It's a bit like living in N Korea or Iran.

    Wee-Scamp as least they have the b***s in Iran to go on the streets and protest. What do we do?, sweet nothing. We roll over everytime this master of duplicity spins us a line - again and again.

    I wonder if we could get Joanna Lumley on the case?

  • Comment number 25.

    To paraphrase Richard "Tricky Dicky" Nixon:

    "There will be no whitewash at Whitehall!".....








    I don't think!

  • Comment number 26.

    Lets hope in the near future we are invaded and democracy restored in this great country of ours.

  • Comment number 27.

    The Labour leader just can't help himself; when will he and his pathetic ministers' start learning that the days of spin are over, we want to see honesty being delivered by our Government not more broken promises.

    The PM refers to the Franks enquiry, as a comparison, set up over 25 years ago, a different era looking at a totally different scenario. He knows that there is a huge difference yet still spins to the contrary, shameful.

    His promise of openness to his parliamentary colleagues has not lasted long, as expected I suppose, this enquiry, probably promised by him whilst on the back foot, will not produce the outcome and honesty our Armed Forces in particular those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, deserve.

    A public enquiry overseen by a Judge and not ex Civil Servants some of whom are associates of the former PM and his ministers, is what's needed to satisfy a very sceptical public, so bring it on Mr Brown.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'd have thought a public inquiry would have been a perfect way to head off all the accusations of haste, connivance, distortion of facts and US-pleasing sycophancy that have dogged our Iraq involvement

    unless of course..

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    With the Falklands, we were the invaded country and we were defending outselves

    With Iraq, we were the invaders and the agresssors - and that needs proper and public explaination

  • Comment number 31.

    I hope this is not an attempt to win support because, as I've said before, the public will not be fooled by policies with a "due date" after the election.

    Sorry to be cynical about this.

  • Comment number 32.

    Ref 26. At 7:30pm on 15 Jun 2009, newthink

    Don't Worry ... I have that in hand.
    Heh, heh, heh .. etc

  • Comment number 33.

    So much for open government. This is an absolute disgrace.

    The public have paid for this war with their hard earned cash and in some cases with the blood of their families.

    Only a public inquiry will do.

    If there's a demonstration against this decision I am there.

  • Comment number 34.

    There is no point in this inquiry..all contentious issues will be brushed under the carpet.

    Transparent Government from this Prime Minister is impossible..he simply incapable of allowing the truth and his Governments' errors to be exposed.

    Perpetual shame upon them all.

  • Comment number 35.

    #24 Briangare.
    Suggest a day and time and I'll meet you outside Parliament. A 2 man demo is a start.....

  • Comment number 36.

    Crikey - Even Invador-Zim is taking this one seriously.

    Personally I propose to refuse to believe anything that comes out of this enquiry. I will assume that the private enquiry means that the Government is hiding information that is damaging to itself and is denying the families of the servicemen lost in the war the justice that they deserve. I invite all reasonable people of whatever political persuasion to do the same and let Mr Brown know our feelings.

    If there was any semblance of honour in this dreadful Government we would have the public enquiry that the people deserve. The cost to the Country in our tax pounds and more importantly the lives lost demands that we should know what has been done in our name!

  • Comment number 37.

    24. At 7:21pm on 15 Jun 2009, briangare wrote: Wee-Scamp as least they have the b***s in Iran to go on the streets and protest.

    I thought lots of people (and if reports are to believed it was close to a million) did That's what democracy is about, I guess: vote me in to represent you and I'll ignore what you want and vote the way my "boss" wants me to. When you know, personally, 1% of the people who died defending "our democracy" in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's bad. That was 2 years ago!

  • Comment number 38.

    I cannot, for the life of me, see the point of ANY enquiry, public or private - we know the truth already ...

    1. Blair promised Bush we'd join in, regardless
    2. a supporting "case" (around WMD) was then fabricated
    3. the real objective was regime change

    thus an Enquiry has only a binary outcome, both deeply unsatisfactory

    either
    ... it agrees the above, and therefore a great deal of time and money is wasted on telling us what we already know

    or
    ... it disagrees and hence is a whitewash, so (equally) a tremendous waste of time and money

    let's drop it and move on

  • Comment number 39.

    No names, no pack drill.

  • Comment number 40.

    Utterly disgusting!
    The rest of the world must hold us in low esteem now! The UK the country that tried to bomb Iraq into democracy , while having NONE itself.
    I well remember that Blair statement , This is not about regime change , this is about WMDs capable of 45 minute deployment, said without a blush.
    And now he swans about the world playing Messiah.

    On a cheerier note , the Daily Mash .com has captured the Lbour angle perfectly!

  • Comment number 41.

    It's extremely unlikely that any enquiry will heal wounds, because the Iraq war was about the UK supporting the US in an unjustifiable war.

    For those who aspire to moral Parliaments, no enquiry will change that.

    The real question is: what is the point of an enquiry if it doesn't address really tough issue?

    It costs money, but it addresses little.

    If so, what is the point?

    Well, that is perhaps the point for Mr Brown and Mr Cameron to address?

    Eh????

  • Comment number 42.

    Archoptimist @ 22 wrote:
    "An inquiry carried out in secret, no apportioning of blame and results not available until after the next election? A waste of time and money."

    Couldn't be clearer! Obviously Peter Mandelson (the puppeteer) must think that the inhabitants of this lovely island are a bunch of idiots. Is there any way or anyone who could stop this inquiry even taking off or at least to produce the report by latest March 2010? If not Mandy's judgement of us islanders will be right.
    Let's at least save the millions of pounds that will be spent for this inquiry only to line up the pockets of many more "friends".
    And then just a wish: the presentation of the report by March may force the Deputy PM Gordon to call an election in the autumn :-)

  • Comment number 43.

    It's a bit unfair to say the Conservatives were in favour of the war. In fact, I was in favour at the time, but based purely on the statements made by the government in the Commons. I suspect that if we had known then that Blair and his cronies were lying through their teeth, it might have made a difference.

  • Comment number 44.

    Not the most radical of protests - but for anyone who is interested there is a petition on the No 10 site calling for a public enquiry (by 2010!). You have to be quick though it closes on the 19th July.

  • Comment number 45.

    Sagamix

    Well put.

    The only way this Inquiry would add anything would be if it showed that current members of the Cabinet / Government were just as gung-ho for war as St. Tony.

    However we know that Cabinet minutes etc. are now so anodyne that they don't record who said what.

    Therefore chance of the final report containing anything unexpected and / or damaging to the Government about 0.0001%.

    Simples!

  • Comment number 46.

    Could not have put it better myself;

    "an establishment white wash held behind closed doors timed not to interfere with Nu Labours re-election.

    Tony Bliar is safe and can stick to his claim " I did the right thing"
    A phrase very much in use by the present Government.

    Maybe we should the save the money and wait for 50 years for the actual documents to be revealed - unless like TB's expenses the e-mails have been accidently shredded.

    Oh for a real democracy - no chance.

  • Comment number 47.

    38. At 7:55pm on 15 Jun 2009, sagamix

    Saga, I agree with you completely.

    But wouldn't there be some sort of satisfaction from having the Enquiry, hand-picked by Brown, reinforcing what we already knew?

  • Comment number 48.

    24 Briangare

    I like you idea of asking Joanna Lumley to head up a campaign and march on London in order to demand an open enquiry.

    Maybe other people posting on this blog can signal in their posts if they would like to appeal to Joanna to take this issue on?

  • Comment number 49.

    While stitching up the hand of a 75 year old Devon farmer, who cut it
    on a gate whilst working cattle, the rural doctor strikes up a
    conversation. Eventually the topic gets around to Gordon Brown and his
    appointment as Prime Minister.
    "Well, you know" drawls the old farmer, "this Brown fellow is what
    they call a fence-post tortoise."
    Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asks him what a fence-
    post tortoise is.
    The old farmer says "When you're driving along a country road and you
    come across a fence post with a tortoise balanced on top, that's
    called a fence-post tortoise."
    The old farmer sees a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he
    continues to explain, "You know he didn't get up there by himself, he
    definitely doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do whilst
    he is up there, and you just have to wonder what kind of idiot put him
    up there in the first place."





  • Comment number 50.

    The proposed enquiry should commence BEFORE 2001 should it not?

  • Comment number 51.

    If there is one cause that will unite the country it is the demand for a public inquiry into how we were dragged into a war in Iraq on the false pretence of WMD's. There must be something we don't know that New Labour will stop at nothing to hide, even if it means certain death. No prizes for quessing what.

  • Comment number 52.

    Typically enough it will be in secret.

    Just whitewash out:

    Lies of Saddam and WMD and Davide Kelly's Death;
    Lies of mismanagement of logistics and winning the peace
    Lies of the policy to support torture
    Lies of the support to criminal warlords

    Oh and my favorite:
    Lies surrounding the official narrative of 9/11 (WTC7 freefall, nanothermite found in the dust, destruction of ENRON files, DoD budgets, Lies surrounding the military response, anthrax attacks etc etc)

    So the whole thing is just a waste of money. Who is going to believe a word!?

  • Comment number 53.

    Well there is a surprise

    Sagamix says lets move on.

    Might as well with this lot in power

  • Comment number 54.

    I beg to differ with most (well, probably all so far) of the contributors.

    It took Hutton months to conduct his inquiry into the relatively limited issues surrounding Kelly's death, and even then when he concluded that the evidence indicated a clear 'not guilty' verdict he was accused of a whitewash. People were not interested in the evidence, unless it happened to support their preconceived notions; if it didn't, the evidence was assumed to be incomplete or just plain lies.

    Imagine how long it would take to do a Hutton style inquiry on all the events over a seven or eight year period. It would probably still be ploughing on two or three elections into the future, and if it didn't come up with the answers that people 'know' are the right ones it would just be labelled as another whitewash. Of course, the lawyers would be delighted to be presented with such a gold mine; and the media would have a daily supply of lurid comment to fill their pages (while consistently misunderstanding, misconstruing, and misreporting the evidence in the consistent manner they managed to achieve with Hutton).


    If what you want is a searching inquiry into what happened, what (if anything) went wrong, and a report in some sort of reasonable time that will be of some value in informing the future conduct of affairs then Chilcott is what you should be looking for. If you want a long drawn out public breast-beating that would still not satisfy those who think the Bliar scenario has any validity, then by all means go public. In ten years time even the conspiracy theorists might be bored with it, and complaining about the cost.

  • Comment number 55.

    I am not at all surprised by this and I can't imagine many others will be either.

    It was always clear that any enquiry would not report until after the next election and also there was no way nulabour would allow this in public. Gordon has used the excuse of waiting until after troops pulled out to delay the matter so that the report won't come out until after the election. All very convenient!

    How foolish all those labour MPS who were bought off with a few words last week must feel now.

    Its bad old control freak Gordon again!

    Perhaps Dave should say that if the Conservatives won the next election he would hold a full and open public enquiry chaired by someone who isn't a serial labour party enquiry participant.

    It would cut Gordon off at the knees.

    Carpe diem Dave, carpe diem.

  • Comment number 56.

    A Private Enquiry with results to be announced well after the next General Election = a whitewash in anybody's book. Brown went to great lengths to say that the enquiry would take in an unprecedented 8 years of the issue. Who really cares what length of historical time it covers? It's the depth of The Enquiry and the non apportioning of blame that the families of those who died are really concerned about. The old crusts who will be sitting on The Commitee are a motley collection of historians and biographers with no political or military background.

  • Comment number 57.

    If I were David Cameron, I would promise a full public enquiry as part of my election manifesto. I would also put in the manifesto that a law would be passed as soon as they are in office that will bring severe punishment (like mandatory 10 years+ in jail) to any person found to have destroyed or authorised the destruction of evidence pertaining to the Iraq inquiry. The aforementioned law to be backdated to TODAY (or before!). By making this pledge now, that would scupper the present ill-conceived whitewash.

  • Comment number 58.

    The sad thing is that even if the inquiry is not a whitewash it will LOOK like a whitewash. Such is the poisonous legacy of lies leading to "Blair's war". All we need to know is WHY Blair was so keen to support the USA and what the Attorney General's real view was about the war's legality. It needn't take a year and £x million to establish that.

    The other issue is that the WHOLE CABINET supported the war, including Gordon Brown - and only one "Honourable Member" (sic) resigned - I think - the late and lamented Robin Cook. Has any other cabinet in history been so supine? So are you SURPRISED that there will be no public inquiry, with a narrow remit, into the key issues?

    I think the start of the inquiry should trigger a major demo - a reprise of the pre-war one. Who's up for it?

  • Comment number 59.

    18. At 7:08pm on 15 Jun 2009, Wee-Scamp wrote:
    It's a bit like living in N Korea or Iran.


    Only without the head honchos' dress sense.

    Mind you, one did get an election (even if.. as the BBC might coyly put it, 'certain questions' remain as to its validity)

  • Comment number 60.

    Sir Humphrey Appleby was very clear: The point of an enquiry is NOT to find out the truth, we all know the truth, the point of an enquiry is to be able to say "We had an enquiry"

  • Comment number 61.

    It's about time, but does anyone else feel this has been conveniently timed to try and diffuse expenses anger? It's what it smacks of to me...

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    LISTEN to Eddie Mair's interview with Bob Ainsworth about this farce of an annoucement.

    Eddie is the most incisive interviewer of spiv MPs...period!

    Enough said!

    (and NO!...I am not in any way related to Bob!)

  • Comment number 64.

    After the whole issue of expenses, the Labour party has brought out a shamble of an enquiry into the iraq war.

    As before with the expenses ( which on most cases they were optained by making false expenses, which in my belief is FRAUD) they have set out a number of rules which do not even make sense for this enuiry.

    They wanted to have an enquiry when British Service men and women returned home for their safety which is understandable. Well they are back now and there should be a PUBLIC ENQUIRY there is no point to a PRIVATE enquiry. Is this whole nation turning into a cloak and dagger dictatorship of our own.

    Blair and Bush should be tried by the war crimes tribunal for causing deaths and damage to a country that posed no threat, they made up the dodgy dossier by means of lieing, and obtaining a report taken off the internet.

    Iraq was a thriving country before 1991, with sanctions imposed it was not, it is as simple as that.

    If we can not trust our democratically elected leaders, who can we trust?

    For all the deaths of our service men and women and all the civilians that died also, They require a public enquiry, We as the British people require and demand it.

    I mean we had to rely on the Telegraph to show up all the thieves we had as mps who made claims which had nothing to do with their expenses.

    I do hope the Editor for the Telegraph runs for Prime minister.

  • Comment number 65.

    What a joke, hasn't Brown learnt anything about running an open and honest government?, what a fool he is.

    A few points spring to mind, no doubt there are many others:-

    1. The inquiry wont be independent as he claims because of the very fact that he has chosen the committee.
    2. Some of the committee members have dubious pedigrees.
    3. Because of the previous white-washes not only does the committee need to examine the witnesses but the public needs to examine the work of the committee, therefore the hearings need to be held in public.
    4. Did Brown discuss in any way with Blair the format of the enquiry?
    5. We will now see all the "yes men" Labour MPs and ministers lining up to support Brown - how nauseating.
    6. He's probably just guaranteed that Labour will lose the next election.

  • Comment number 66.

    One bitter lesson that the military continues to re-learn is that politicians send them out on missions, without the necessary wherewithal to achieve the objectives.

    The result is death, danger and humilation for our Armed Forces plus, for good measure, derision from our allies.

    These politicians, who promise publicly that the military can 'have anything they want' to complete their tasks and then fail to deliver said assets, are completely despicable people.

    NB. I write as a somewhat informed blogger on these matters having spent just over two decades working with the military.

  • Comment number 67.

    Money run things, but doesn't rule your soul..

    King General - Lightning Strike
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9L2EztHHdo&feature=PlayList&p=8633945AB908C9C8&index=34

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    An inquiry in private, with no compulsion on witnesses to attend, with no subpoena power, with no testimony under oath and with no recommendations. What the bloody hell is it for? Why even bother?

  • Comment number 70.

    #armyofbats

    The Tories had a secret enquiry after the Falklands War, so it is a bit rich of them to demand an open enquiry over Iraq. There was never any blame laid in the Falklands, even though it was common knowledge that as part of the cuts in the Defence budget, the withdrawal of the patrol vessel, HMS Endurance, from the South Atlantic sent the wrong signals to Argentina. Keith Speed, MP for Ashford in Kent (where I lived at the time), was Navy Minister in the Thatcher government. He resigned from the government because of the cuts in the Navy Budget. Then, of course, there was Mrs Thatcher's order to sink the Belgrano, when it was sailing away from the exclusion zone, with the loss of so many lives. Will we ever hear the truth about that; I doubt it. Not in Mrs Thatcher's lifetime anyway. The Franks report was heard behind closed doors, and the same will apply with the Chilcot report. I don't remember the Conservatives baying for a public enquiry on the Falklands; it suited them to keep it under wraps. As Nick says, it wont matter what the enquiry's findings are, it will still be seen as a whitewash, in the same way as the Hutton Report, Cash for Honours and, yes, the Franks report on the Falklands War. There were more British lives lost in the 3 month Falklands War than in the 4 years in Iraq! I have a personal interest, my son served in the Falklands on HMS Hermes and in both Gulf Wars; he was 19 at the time. Hermes had just returned from a tour of the US when it was struck by lightning amidships, both the radar and telecoms were knocked out. They were still trying to repair it when they left from Portsmouth for the South Atlantic. Nobody is better at cutting the defence budget than the Tories. That's why the QE2 and other luxury liners were commandeered as hospital ships, we were down to the bare bones. The Conservatives had 16 years to replace the ships lost, but they didn't want to spend the money. It fell to the Labour government to increase the Defence Budget.

  • Comment number 71.

    "After six years, the deaths of 179 British military personnel and countless more Iraqis"

    I mourn the death of every single member of the British military sent on this escapade, but as for the Iraqis, why not visit here Nick? Somebody HAS been counting.

    http://www.iraqbodycount.org/

  • Comment number 72.

    DEATH OF A NATION...there won't be an enquiry over that!

  • Comment number 73.

    I think I could save the government however many millions they are going to spend on this and write the conclusions of the report right now:

    1. Going to war killed lots of people
    2. It was nobody's fault (at least nobody senior: see point 4)
    3. Everyone in government acted in good faith
    4. Some junior official somewhere in the MoD (probably one with a bit of a reputation for not going along with the Labour spin machine) ordered the wrong kit for the troops, resulting in some unfortunate deaths, and will therefore be sacked
    5. Tony Blair is a very nice man really

    Did I miss anything?

  • Comment number 74.

    Why not save the money! It was me. You'll never prove it. There is no evidence, you won't find phone, meetings, written documentation or witnesses. I persuaded Bush and made Blair take out Sadam Hussein's regime. We told him if he didn't let UN inspectors into Iraq we would take military action, and we did. Threats without substance would soon become a farce; the boy who cried wolf. But then again I might just be some nutter trying to take the mickey. Long live the Sovereign!

  • Comment number 75.

    64 Unitedearth

    "Iraq was a thriving country before 1991, with sanctions imposed it was not, it is as simple as that."

    =====================

    Rather ignores the fact that the year before Iraq invaded its neighbous without warning wouldn't you say?

    THen goes on to carry out state sponsored genocide of thousands of its own citizens!!!

    Sadly as in all conflicts, a despot can wreak havoc mainly on there own country...look at history its repeated time and again.

    You gan have a hundred public inquiries and they won't change a thing, had 9/11 never happened Saddam would probaly still be killing and torturing to his heart's content BUT thousands now dead could be still alive? I'm just thankfull I don't have to make such decisions unlike so many hindsight warriors who always Know better.

  • Comment number 76.

    This is the government that is supposed to believe in Open Government. Whenever possible they then hide behind the letter rather than the principle of the law.

  • Comment number 77.

    Disgraceful!

    Behind closed doors and no one to be blamed

    My own theory on what is going on I cannot say apart from this is not Gordon Brown's work it is the dark lord protecting his own.

    An enquiry must be held because Gordon said it would be but for the sake of history what spin will be put on it?

    Never can it be compared to the Faulklands for they were attacked and this country defended them.

    Iraq did not attack us and we killed thousands of innocent people and left a country dessimated.

    We really do need to know the reason why.

  • Comment number 78.

    So Gordon - Everything has changed has it?

    You want to change the old way of doing things do you?

    You want to be open?

    You want to be transparent?

    You've listened to the voters?

    YET AGAIN YOU HAVE LIED. Hang your head in shame. Resign Now.

    At the weekend many labour party activists and supporters were willing to give you a chance and now you do this? Enough is Enough. I'm surprised. Are you really so stupid?

  • Comment number 79.

    I can save time and money by reporting the outcome now. Fudge,mudge and kludge.

  • Comment number 80.

    I don't get your point Nick,

    "The Chilcott Inquiry is being presented as an examination by experts of the lessons to be learnt from the Iraq war. The men Gordon Brown has chosen are familiar with the complexities, the compromises and the uncertainties involved in British intelligence, diplomacy and military planning.

    It will not be a naming of the allegedly "guilty men", nor an opportunity for a public airing of the political wounds opened by the Iraq war. Nor a healing process.

    The reaction to today's announcement suggests that may never actually be possible."

    There are reasonable grounds for rational observers to conclude that Britain was taken to war on the basis of falsehoods deliberately calculated to mislead parliament. This might be described as treason. How can there be "a healing process" unless this is investigated by people entirely independant of government (and thus not chosen by it)and, if shown to be true, those who carried out this deception are required to answer for it? Are you saying that there is no case to answer and that those who feel agrieved are being irrational?

    It would not be difficult to arrange for a healing process. Lets choose an unaffiliated, intelligent public figure from outside politics. Give them all powers and facilities to enquire without hinderance and with all necessary help (but with a requirement to keep secret things which it would be against the public good to reveal - like the identities of our spies) and let them conduct an enquiry with the remit both to investigate and to bring those guilty of deceiving the public to book. You sound, Nick, like you think it irrational to remain angry that the government won't deal with an apparently profound wrong committed by the government on the public. Why?

  • Comment number 81.

    shame, shame, shame

    Shame on this Government

    Shame on Eaton and Saga for trying to defend this act of contempt and deceit

    Shame on us for allowing this deceit by sitting on our behinds like the good keyboard warriors we are.

    Unitedearth - you're being very foolish, learn the facts, learn what happened and then when you think you understand what went on, try again.

  • Comment number 82.

    Valdan 70 makes many points and is a good advocate for labour; however I think he is misguided if he thinks withdrawing a ship is an excuse for one country to invade anothers' territory. The proposed defence cuts of the early 80's were part of a defence review and our role in NATO, it is true the Falklands conflict helped save the RN.
    As for the sinking of the Belgrano, ships do change direction and, as his son was on Hermes, a prime target, he should be grateful that we had a PM who gave her military commanders real teeth, compare that with today and the one hand tied behind the backs of our forces, had she not that ship posed a real threat and could of destroyed Hermes or Invincible; instead the decisive action on sinking the Belgrano put the Argentinian navy to port for the rest of the conflict.
    When we go into battle we go to win and where there is doubt surrounding the reason for war then a public enquiry should be held, there was no doubt surrounding the reason for conflict in the south atlantic.

  • Comment number 83.

    68. At 9:33pm on 15 Jun 2009, JohnConstable

    Mr Cameron is not worth GBP30 million.

  • Comment number 84.

    Another half a million BNP votes stacked up.

    When will these people learn that our democracy does NOT belong to the political (and media) elite. To me, they are now my avowed enemy. Anything they want - they get the opposite.

  • Comment number 85.

    The lesson is that the intelligence services, the military and the public servants must act always and only in the interest of all of us, ignoring the politicians. The politicians may act in the interests of foreign countries or listening to those lobbying for the self-interest of those within and without who try to use our resources and lives for their gains.

    It will take one year to plan and execute an elaborate spin.

    Is GB's camp using this as revenge and leverage against Tony, Cherie and Blairites ?

    Long and expensive? Nothing else will do then.

  • Comment number 86.

    Without a proper explanation of why Tony Blair felt he had to support George Bush's decision to invade Iraq, we will feel cheated and not trust any Govt. to act on our behalf.

    I don't know how Govt can re engage with the people, I just suspect that the longer and the more extreme the feeling of disenfranchisement gets, the more serious will be the ultimate consequence, I just hope this recession os over soon and we don't get a monstrous bout of inflation to really stir up the masses.

    The trouble with a low turnout at elections is that the really keen/politically active always get out and vote, which may outweigh the lazy moderate who feels he can't be bothered. Hence Nick Griffin elected to the EU parliament.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    How can this inquiry be open and transparent.
    One of the members is on record as saying Bush & Blair would go down in history alongside Churchill & Rooservelt and another wrote a speech for Blair given in Chicago in favour of pre-emptive intervention wars.

    If Brown thinks this will restore his (moral) authority with the public and his own back benchers then he had better think again.

    The public won't be taken in again by Mandleson, I think he's been rumbled.
    Time for an election.

  • Comment number 89.

    Lessons to be learned #1: Don't promise the US President you will join him in war if you suspect you'll have to tell a pack of lies at a later date to bounce Parliament and the public into supporting it.

    Oh, and Nick, your sources that claim the public enquiry into Dr Kelly's death prove there will always be those that will never be satisfied? Eh, no, all that shows is an 'enquiry' that fails to uncover the truth is most unsatisfactory.

  • Comment number 90.

    In today's political climate the public don't want any-more hidden secrets.
    If someone is proven to have sanctioned an act against humanity and lied about a certain issue, then it serves the public no good to conceal that truth.

  • Comment number 91.

    If any of the 'other parties' promised to initiate a war crimes commission...they'd get my vote.


    The Iranians, tonight, are showing us how to do it!

  • Comment number 92.

    It is high time that the people of the UK took a leaf out of the Iranian people's grit and courage.

    How much longer are we going to sit back whilst Brown treats us like docile cowardly fools? Filling his cabinet with unelected rejects. Telling us that labour being actively rejected by 95% of the population is a cry for him to stay on and indulge in further constitutional vandalism without ANY democratic mandate whatsoever.

    Now he is announcing a kick in the guts to the families of the deceased service people in creating a whitewash inquiry designed solely to exonerate the Blair Cabinet that lied to Parliament and the people to take us to war.

    How much lower can this vile and sick minded man sink? He even makes Nick Griffin look respectable.

  • Comment number 93.

    Nick-You didn't mention the time the inquiry would take when you did your report to camera on BBC news. Why not?

    David Cameron expenses seem to be exercising a few people here. Have you heard about Gordon Brown who apparently bought a flat in London from Robert Maxwell then put it into his wife's name? He seemed to have some difficulty also in deciding what his second home was when he was actually in a 'grace and favour' home as Chancellor. Shouldn't we be looking at everyone?

  • Comment number 94.

    sagamix - dont be off topic, it wont work, its an issue that should be discussed on the right forums dont you think. And if we know all this about cameron - why arent Labour going for him with both guns? Its almost an opengoal unless tehre's something we're not being told about it.

    Also, shall we discuss why ALL of Tony Blairs Receipts were ordered to be shreaded? Why? What was there to hide?

  • Comment number 95.

    Nick, your comment re Hutton is ridiculous. It was set up by Lord High Crony Falconer, he picked a man who would obey orders and stick to the extremely narrowly defined focus and you say some people will never be satisfied. Get a grip man, you're supposed to be a political editor, it's little wonder politicians behave so badly when you fail to hold them to account

  • Comment number 96.

    So...

    It will be held in secret
    no attendees will be held to oath
    No politicians will atend
    No blame will be apportioned

    Brown = lies

  • Comment number 97.

    What a farce........So much for Gordon the transparent. Nick you also failed to mention that the inquiry will report post general election...Nice

  • Comment number 98.

    #89 ftse_muppet: "Oh, and Nick, your sources that claim the public enquiry into Dr Kelly's death prove there will always be those that will never be satisfied? Eh, no, all that shows is an 'enquiry' that fails to uncover the truth is most unsatisfactory."

    The truth being, of course, what you happen to believe? Don't you see that your comment simply supports the claim that Nick makes?

  • Comment number 99.

    For all of you who wonder what the near future may hold for our country, here's some pleasant bedtime reading:

    http://devilskitchen.me.uk/2009/03/flattening-laws-of-england.html

    Pay particular attention to the possible application of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

  • Comment number 100.

    36. At 7:54pm on 15 Jun 2009, oldreactionary

    Yes my old reactionary comrade, there is a first time for everything.

    Invader-Zim takes this subject seriously, no poetic licence or sarcasm here.
    There have been too many casualties for that.

    Many soldiers lost their lives unnecessarily.
    Many civilians lost their lives unnecessarily.
    The world has become a very volatile place, making it much more difficult to Invade.

    What was achieved in real terms: -
    Iraq was returned to the stone age. (I don't consider that a real achievement.)
    Blair and Bush won elections to keep them in office. (Again that isn't a real achievement.)
    There were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but they were the ones that the west used on the Iraqi population. (and again this isnt a real achievement.)
    The price of oil destabilised. (George Bush's cronies made a dollar or too out of this, which leads me to believe that this was the real objective.)

    No wonder any inquiry needs to be done in secret.
    If we knew the half of what went on we would end up lynching half the labour Government - deservedly so too.

    Out with Brown!
    In with Zim!

 

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