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There's no escaping Iraq: Brown soon to face inquiry

Nick Robinson | 23:51 UK time, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Gordon Brown is to face the Iraq inquiry in late February or early March - not something which was, I suspect, in Labour's pre-election grid. It remains a mystery as to how and why this has come about.

Gordon Brown, June 2003What we know is that:

• Sir John Chilcot will confirm that he has written to the prime minister saying that the inquiry would like to interview him and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, and Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for International Development

• This letter is a response to that sent by Gordon Brown - which he revealed in the Commons on Wednesday in response to a question from the SNP's Angus Robertson

• That followed questioning a week earlier by Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg at PMQs when Brown made clear that it was up to the inquiry when he was interviewed, but did not say that he hoped they would interview him pre-election

• At the outset of the inquiry, Sir John made clear that he'd only call ministers who no longer had any relevant responsibility - for example, Jack Straw - and would wait to call others until after the election

My guess is that Brown realised that today's appearance of Jack Straw at the Iraq Inquiry and next week's by Tony Blair would lead to persistent demands for him to face questioning too. He would risk looking evasive if he simply replied that it was nothing to do with him when he was interviewed and would face accusations of a behind-the-scenes stitch-up.

If I'm right, he decided that the obvious downsides of facing questioning about Iraq in the run-up to an election would be outweighed by the downsides of being seen to run scared from them.

It might also allow him to try to make a distinction between those who took the decision to invade Iraq - Blair and Straw - and those, like him, who supported them and wrote the cheques but were not involved in decisions around intelligence and diplomacy.

There was, I am told, no private understanding or arrangement between the PM and Sir John in recent days. Indeed, the inquiry team was surprised to receive Gordon Brown's letter, was puzzled by what it really meant and its members are now livid that news of their invitation to the PM to appear before the election has leaked out before they could announce it themselves.

Update 08:25, 22 January 2010: The origin of this confusion was Sir John Chilcot's statement on 17 December that the committee is "determined to remain firmly outside party politics" and that "the inquiry should not be used as a political platform for political advantage." For this reason, the committee decided to wait until after the election to hear from those ministers who are currently serving in the roles about which the committee wished to question them.

I'm now told that Gordon Brown wrote to Chilcot to make publicly very clear that politics was not the reason for the timing of his appearance - which the inquiry had scheduled for after the election. Perhaps he recalled that once before he had been accused of playing politics with the Iraq inquiry by proposing that evidence be taken in private.


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  • Comment number 1.

    It's difficult to see Brown coming out of the inquiry anything but badly, so it's good that the opposition parties have been successful in forcing him to appear before the election. He will be called to account at the ballot box; it's just a shame his predecessor will never be called to account for his part in the war.

  • Comment number 2.

    Wrong Prime Minister ...Its the previous one we need to answer one straightforward question. Why did this religious fundamentalist ignore millions of the British electorate, listen only to a small group of Iraqi exiles and an ESN American and subsequently make his mind up to commit thousands of British troops to this hare-brained scheme which caused the deaths of upwards of 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians ? ... The Nuremburg War Crimes Trials in 1946 hanged a number of leading Nazis for failing to answer a question exactly like that satisfactorily.

  • Comment number 3.

    You say:

    "There was, I am told,..."

    You know Nick, that really doesn't carry any weight one way or the other...

    And what does 'in recent days' mean? was there an arrangement/agreement prior to 'recent days' ?

    As Blair would put it - "Gordon is just, you know, Gordon" - Sir John is lucky Gordon didn't decide to present his response through the medium of a You Tube video.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is absolutely hilarious! Gordon is forced to try and make out that he is 'happy' to give evidence before the election and Sir John calls his bluff!

    I am just looking forward to Mr Brown actually giving a straight answer to a question for once!

  • Comment number 5.

    You cant win can you Nick?
    You blog a report about a surprising about turn without expressing an opinion on it and within 3 posts someone is having a pick!

    Cant wait for when Brown is in the hot seat tho, and as another poster says Blair too.

  • Comment number 6.


    "It might also allow him to try to make a distinction between those who took the decision to invade Iraq - Blair and Straw - and those, like him, who supported them and wrote the cheques but were not involved in decisions around intelligence and diplomacy. "

    It was those other nasty boys wot done it?

    So do I read from this that we can't really blame him because he wasn't a properer member of the cabinet?

    This is the same war as I'm thinking of? The one where 300,000 + people lost their lives based on a Sexed up dossier written by a public relations man overriding the intelligence. All because the Prime Minister wanted to Ape Maggy Thatcher and look like the strong shoulder to shoulder ally of the Americans because he thought it would be electorally advantageous.

    I simply can't believe the depths of moral depravity this bunch of Labour politicians have dragged us into in every area of government and social life.

    They say that an electorate get the politicians they deserve.

    If all you are bother about is maintaining your benefits or your public sector job then you have to vote Labour but its never a vote for the country as a whole its a self serving vote that over rides the good of the country.

    Unfortunately 30% of the electorate seem to think this way.

  • Comment number 7.

    Like James at #4 I will be interested to see just how clear GB's answers are. I think he may find it hard to step out of the "bluster and obfuscate" mode normally associated with anything he says.

    Having seen bits of other witnesses' contributions I feel that at least some have tried to tread the very fine line between saying that they disagreed with the war policy without having to deal with the fact that there was no obvious dissent at the time. I'm not sure that GB will be able to manage that degree of subtlety; it is not, I suspect, in his nature. And I doubt if he will be allowed to throw anything if it gets difficult.

  • Comment number 8.

    Truth will out. But nothing will come of it.

    If Brown runs true to form he will deny any complicity, deny that a war took place and deny that he is there at the enquiry, instead making the point that unemployment is down thanks to the fact he saved the world and the opposition voted against it.

    'It is not true that I haven't been complicit in the regime change plans of my predeccessor!'

    Be sure your sins will find you out.

  • Comment number 9.

    well there did seem for many that is you NR, we have been banging on about all week , you are so behind the curve on this.

    Yet more cynical manoevering by GB to spin his way out of this,

    Hope they go hard on him about the Helo and spending, I'd like to be there to brief the committee with the facts about the chinook fiasco
    that he made substantially worse but "pulling" the monies.

    what the committee will have to remember that we were in a so called period of economic plenty (although is was back on debt).

    what he did with the MLH programme (meduim lift helo)
    what he did with the Future Link (wildcat) programme.

    I'll give you a clue delays , cancellation and cut back as he pulled the purse strings.

    From about 2001 I got a call about working on the Future Link programme
    but it did not get going until around 2006 with the number played around with.

    but it goes much deeper than that, the T23 frigates Command system
    fell of a cliff in 1998, when they were due to start the next phase of development, but this did not start until 2001/2002 a four year delay due
    to funding issues from the MOD based on GB pulling the purse strings.

    The cheaper option of going for the JSF rather than navalising the EFA.
    gutting the Harrier and Killing the Jaguars.

    This was nothing short of industrial vandalism but also playing with our
    independant capabilities that would allow us to be free of US control , like our friends accross the channel in France. Nothing has happened like this since TSR2,

  • Comment number 10.

    #6 I think we have seen a PM that wanted to order troops into battle as you say becasue it looked good, for him , but a chancellor that was prepared to "allowing into battle" ,as long as he could stop spending monies on the equipement for, the brave (mostly boys) service personal.

    These were sons of our county ask to do a job by the PM , whatever you think of him for that and the way it happened, but the Chancellor did not give an ed balls for there lives and that I find most sickening.

  • Comment number 11.

    I can already hear Gordy saying "It was a global invasion.... it started in America."

  • Comment number 12.

    * At the outset of the inquiry Sir John made clear that he'd only call ministers who no longer had any relevant responsibility

    Bit of an indictment of Brown's entire premiership really. I just hope that when he starts blaming the Tories and talking about how he did what was in the best interests of "hard working families" that Sir John does the job that the speaker is supposed to do and make him actually answer the questions which he's asked.

  • Comment number 13.

    whom will be the first poster to blame Thatcher then ? sagamix or byrthers ?

  • Comment number 14.

    #6 PortcullisGate

    I agree, it's tragic although things will not change.... the Tories have an obsession with their Atlantic Bridge organisation which keeps us in thrall to the most hawkish neocons in the US so that when they want another war, we'll surely be there.

    Sickening. Nothing ever changes, they just exaggerate their ideological differences, in 'Dave's New World' it will be just the same.

  • Comment number 15.

    Gordon Brown has yet again been forced into a corner and no doubt when he gives his evidence, it'll not be his fault yet will look shifty, evasive and guilty - as he rightly is. No doubt Mandy is behind this.

  • Comment number 16.

    "and are now livid that news of their invitation to the PM to appear before the election has leaked out before they could announce it themselves."
    Perhaps Sir John should make it public exactly who leaked news of the invitation. Not someone close to No 10 by any chance.

  • Comment number 17.

    14. At 08:03am on 22 Jan 2010, Culverin

    I disagree Labour have through lies an deceit robbed any future government from the ability to act in the best interest by using force.

    What would be the future reaction be to a dossier being published making the case for war?

    Would you trust it?

    If you always use your ability to deceive to get your way as this bunch of liars have done then you cant blame people for not trusting anything you say.

    I'm sorry but anyone would be a quantum improvement on these idiots.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think congratulations go to Clegg for forcing Brown into this.

    However in reality the timing of Brown's appearance is fairly meaningless, this is just going to be a question and answer session and is purely for fact finding. From the evidence of the previous sessions the questioning will be very tame indeed.

    If the inquiry does appotion blame to anyone, it will only do so in its final report - and this is carefully timed to be after the election.

  • Comment number 19.

    Surely this inquiry is payback time for the previous pathetic attempts to get the truth over Iraq. It is payback for the shabby way politicians (of all colours) responded to large scale public unrest over Iraq. It is payback for the evasiveness demonstrated by politicians who are still in denial about our activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    If we are going to name names then all those who supported the invasion of Iraq by voting for it are guilty not just those who perhaps "manipulated", "engineered", or "invented" reasons to support Bush.

  • Comment number 20.

    I am sorry but I don't understand why there is an enquiry into the Iraq Invasion. I suspect that those that wanted an enquiry are not scholars of history. If they were, they would remember that, in 1938, a British Conservative Prime Minister returned from Germany waving a piece of paper and proclaiming "Peace in our time!". How many millions of lives did that piece of folly cost?
    The rule is simple, you do not try to appease dictators, you remove them from power, by force if you have to.
    The question is not whether Sadam Hussain had or did not have weapons of mass destruction. The question is why dictators like Robert Mugabe are still in power?

  • Comment number 21.

    Problem Gordon is going to face is the 'supplemental' questions - he doesn't think quickly enough on his feet and the sad face will not cut it.

  • Comment number 22.

    #14 so its daves fault then , they do do have an obsession, thats labour. remember grenada and the falklands,

    When its required they stand up to the US, labour and the 460+ MP's and the sexed up dossier that where the problem its not dave and what he might or might not do, remenber that

  • Comment number 23.

    Brown has a motive that he does not want to be blamed for Iraq and therefore does not want Tony and the Cronies to have the last word to Chilcot before the election.

    Chilcot should also call Hans Blix as I remember distinctly that he was saying that there was no evidence of WMDs only days before the invasion. This was at a time in 2003 when the media were full of investigations and the turns of phrase used by TBlair and Co were noticeably different from Hans Blix and the inspectors.

    Whatever goes on the public will hear Iraq, Iraq, Iraq all the way to the ballot box and so it will not be able to be put aside as irrelevant.

    Looking forward to a post about the false assumptions being made by Obama as to why the banks got into trouble when the whole lending more than the asset's value was begun by W when he wanted to be elected for his second term and so it was politically driven at the outset.

  • Comment number 24.

    #22 -- actually I am surpised that no-one has blamed Maggie T. She is normally the cause of all things that Labour don't wish to take responsibility for.

  • Comment number 25.

    Nick - you write:
    "It might also allow him to try to make a distinction between those who took the decision to invade Iraq - Blair and Straw - and those, like him, who supported them and wrote the cheques but were not involved in decisions around intelligence and diplomacy."
    How on earth can anyone be expected to accept that Brown was not involved in those decisions? His bluff has been called and he has to appear. Whether any 'truth' will emerge from either his own or Blair's testimony is another matter. Meanwhile Mr Blair's own bank balance gets fatter as a result, Mr Brown 'clings' on to power and his swiftly diminishing chances of re-election, Mandy still pulls the strings in his own little world and the country goes to rack and ruin. Hey-ho, another happy day in Westminsterland.

  • Comment number 26.

    It's right for Gordon to appear sooner rather than later. So what if it's before the election? ... we're trying to get at the truth, aren't we? Why would the truth need to wait for an election?

    What he has to do, when he does appear, is the following:

    1) Reinforce in no uncertain terms that Iraq was Blair.
    2) Reveal himself to have been a sceptic but not opposed.

    The first is easy - Iraq was Blair - but the second less so. And it's crucial. He has to have been a sceptic, otherwise he was a dupe. Not good to have been duped. But he must NOT have been downright opposed because then, by going along with it, he risks looking the cowardly careerist. And that's not so good either. That's probably worse than being duped by Blair. In fact, now I think about it, just how shaming is it to have been taken in by one of the most compelling political performers these Isles have ever seen? Perhaps not very.

    Still, Gordon is PM now, he won't want to come over as a dupe - Blair's or anybody else's - and therefore he'll be trying for the, "Doubtful, but okay Tony ... if you insist," type vibe. Let's see if he can do it.

    It's probably the truth, so that should help.

  • Comment number 27.

    Another story spun out of control, and released to the media first.

    On a secondary point, while I appreciate the photo with the story just to make sure we all understand which Gordon Brown we are talking about here, shouldn't there be some sort of pre-blog warning?

    Viewers of a nervous disposition might find pictures on this blog upsetting...

    It's going to take me ages to get the Corn Flakes out of this keyboard.

  • Comment number 28.


    I agree with what you've written, but I think he might need to do considerably more than that.

    Some of the hearings have focused the equipment shortages suffered throughout the campaign. I'd expect Brown to have to answer questions about what funding requests from MoD were approved or rejected. Unless Brown approved every single request then it could make for some very uncomfortable headlines.

  • Comment number 29.

    26. At 08:59am on 22 Jan 2010, sagamix wrote:

    So basically I read from this that he just has to deceive in some way.

    How can you come on here and support these people day after day?

    Have you no sense of the common good or is it just Labour that you have allegiance to and damn the rest of the country?

  • Comment number 30.

    I see this story puts Brown as the leading story on the Beeb's News website again! Is this going to be the pattern with the BBC and Brown until the election? Has a target been set? One Brown headline a day, 2, 3 ....?

    The contrast between ITN and BBC is staggering. The former led last night on the plight of the Chandlers captured by Somali pirates who may only have days left to live. The BBC fawned over Brown. Both carried in depth stories on Haiti.

    I suspect that Chilcott will be very worried. So far the inquiry has been firmly in his control, now he will think that control is being prised from his fingers. I predict unforeseen developments and quite a few twists ahead.

  • Comment number 31.

    Dave J if you go around like that though, then you will be the only one left with a god complex, which is invariably what dictators have. You can't stop bullys by becoming the biggest bully.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Gordon Brown is to face the Iraq inquiry in late February or early March - not something which was, I suspect, in Labour's pre-election grid."

    Always assuming that he doesn't go to see the Queen before hand, Sir John Chilcot has already said that the inquiry will be suspended once the general election is called (and as such Chilcot needs to invite Brown as soon as possible), there is little stopping Brown from calling the election at any time other than a wish to force through more unpopular and unnecessary legislation, even the scheduled budget will be little more than a pre-election stunt as we all know that there will have to be another budget within weeks of the next government taking office.

  • Comment number 33.

    Yesterday's appearance by Jack Straw was fairly predictable. Plenty of angst-ridden hand wringing: "It was the hardest decision I had to make", "I didn't totally agree with the war...". But as to whether he would back his 'principles' and resign - No! Of course not! I am a Labour politician...we don't do resigning, for heavens sake!.
    Actually, he should have resigned after the TV pictures of him emerging from a helicopter in his ridiculous bullet-proof vest seconds after the spotlessly elegant Condaleeza Rice - that was embarrasing for the whole country!

  • Comment number 34.

    As Chilcot is asking questions of all of the witnesses in their roles in 2002/2003 it is his role as Chancellor that Gordon Brown has to speak to and he can easily put any of the inquisitors right if the questions stray into what has happened since he became PM.

    If Alistair Campbell's oft used inclusive 'we' is to be believed then it is Blair and Campbell who appear to have made most of the decisions, although the role of Brown in the inner clique, along with Jack Straw was clear from the media at the time.

    As Brown did the bankrolling and the financial restrictions, he probably wants to put his spin on it and not let any impression of his having been responsible be left after Chilcot.

    It will be interesting if Damian McBride and Charlie Whelan are called too, as there's no way Broon would not have had them involved in all discussions.

  • Comment number 35.

    And I suspect that when the PM does appear it will be a dull affair. The decision to engage UK forces was ultimately that that of Tony Blair as Prime Minister. From what we know most of the Cabinet were not closely involved in the analysis of the situation but when the time came were ready and willing to back the Prime Minister. As were of course members of other parties. That's it - is it not?

  • Comment number 36.

    The truth will out? - I'm not so sure. My take on this is that Gordon thinks the following:
    1. Most of us plebs are dumb and have heard the unemployment figures are down
    2. Crime is down
    3. Gord is the man who saved the world
    4. The appearance before the enquiry will be the final piece of the jigsaw where everyone around will finally see that he is the only leader anyone could possibly want to lead this great and proud world power.

    Delusional, lets hope they ask him some pointed questions and we can see how it goes with the cameras directly on him. Maybe he'll give evidence via videolink from the bunker where everyone loves him and he's king of the world

  • Comment number 37.

    Another poor attempt by Downing Street to regain the momentum.

    Failed as usual because he had to be chivvied into it by Nick Clegg.

    Woefully behind the curve this government sinks to new depths of prostration.

    We have Gordon Brown opposed by Lady Kinnock this week as he actually delivered his address; a world first in cointradictions even for Gordon.

    We have the Governor of the bank of England breaking all previosu pre-election protocol and telling Grodn Brown to cut the deficit.

    We've had the civil service and the treasury break ranks and say there is a woeful abscence of leadership and direction from Downing Street that is taking us down.

    Yet still sagamix and his newlabour aopolgist chums come on these posts and claim Gordon Brown will pull off the Chilcot enquiry.

    He couldn't pull off his own jumper never mind Chilcott.

    He's a talentless bully; like his apologists.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 38.

    Nick you said the other day that this was not much of a story. How quickly things change in your media life.
    Brown is a proven liar so it's hard to believe he will tell the truth when questioned, that is if he is questioned properly. Having watched some of the enquiry it's like watching a sketch of a gentlemans club, all too nice and cosy.
    I do not understand why Brown didn't offer to go before the enquiry first when he initiated the enquiry. He has only just agreed because of the pressure from Nick Clegg, some of the media (not you Nick) and the public.
    Just one point on Straw's performance yesterday. Straw said his loyalty was to Blair. Wrong Mr. Straw, your loyalty is to the electorate who pay you to hold your priviledged position. Your loyalty is also to tell the truth no matter who or what it affects.

  • Comment number 39.

    My reading on Iraq goes back to the first Gulf War when Saddam actually invaded and was repelled. He was, if my memory serves me well, "taught a lesson". I am not sure how anyone can "investigate" Iraq and the issues surrounding the "WMD" or "regime change" or "some other reason which we will tell you when we feel like it" second attack without looking at the decade that intervened.

    Just what dirty deals were being done? Just what "intelligence" was there, accurate or otherwise. Saddam Hussein was NOT in a vacuum of his own choosing during this time, with the USA and the UK not minding where or how the oil was gotten just as long as it flowed where it was wanted. Were the UN doing nothing?

    There is a lot of hypocrisy in these blogs from people who want to select out their "pet points", to lay the blame on the shoulders of feckless politicians who darkened our democratic processes for thirty odd years. Chilcot may throw a little more light on the more dubious sides of our political processes but it will not prevent the more open minded person from doubting the integrity of all but a handful of our political hierarchy.

    The invasion of Iraq (and Afghanistan) was simply a chess move on a board where you have to be at least two or three moves ahead, and Saddam Hussein was a pawn in this game. Bush and Blair thought they were playing poker and we still need to know just who was dealing the cards from the bottom of the pack. On the UK side I think most of us already know who the manipulators were; I am pretty sure the US public have identified their potential villains too. Sadly, in neither case, can anyone get rid of a pernicious virus by simply knowing it is there.

    No matter who wins the election the infection will remain, to come back and haunt us time and time again. Ghosts do not need a vote.

  • Comment number 40.

    Given that Tony Blair is under the spotlight first then I expect the vendetta between him and GB (hitherto mainly conducted out of the direct gaze of the vulgar electorate) to erupt in public. While TB will not be able to blame GB for the war, I expect that any discussion of a "funding shortage" will be pointed firmly in the direction of Pa Broon. TB will be getting his retaliation in first. I think (could be wrong of course) that TB will indulge in a bit of well - poisoning just to make sure that GB's session is as uncomfortable as possible.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm sure Nick is right to say that Gordon Brown wants to close this down, not have it lurking in the background throughout the election campaign.

    I doubt if Brown will come out of it badly. Or Blair, for that matter. Straw came across pretty well, even his political enemies admit. Those who are opposed to the war (and there are an awful lot more of them now than there were at the time) have prejudged Blair's guilt. They'll hear what they want to hear.

    It only took until post 2 for the Nazis to be mentioned. Nice one!

  • Comment number 42.

    I wonder which Brown we will get at the enquiry?

    "tv Interview" Brown

    "haha, you know, haha, I was listening to Susan Boyle on the radio the other day and I thought, I must get on with the, haha, job of running the country, haha, aren't computers interesting?"

    "Dispatch Box" Brown


  • Comment number 43.

    portcullis @ 29

    "So basically I read from this that he just has to deceive in some way"

    Well you read it wrong then, didn't you? ... do I not close the post by saying that it's "probably" the truth?

    I'm anti Iraq War. Was at the time, too. I mainly blame Blair, but others don't come out well. There was more opposition on the Left, btw, than on the Right. And in the Labour Party c.f. the Tory Party - although neither emerge with credit. Hats off to the LibDems on this one. They called it right and they deserve to WIN this coming election because of it. They also have a fabulous policy on jacking up the personal allowance and funding it at the top end. Any chance of you considering the LibDems? You should.

  • Comment number 44.

    37 Robin wrote:
    Yet still sagamix and his newlabour aopolgist chums come on these posts and claim Gordon Brown will pull off the Chilcot enquiry.
    He's a talentless bully; like his apologists.


    Well shucks, Robin. I'm sorry if you're bothered by the occasional opposing view. But it is a democracy, you know - at least, it was last time I looked.

    Don't want to drag you away from your Brown-bashing comfort zone, but out of interest, were you a vociferous opponent of the war in Iraq? And please don't trot out the 'I supported the war because I was lied to' defence, you aren't that dumb and neither am I.

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm sure that Brown won't come out of this the worst, as Saga said if he can convince everyone that he wasn't instrumental in the decision to go to war. Where he won't come off well though is if Chilcott decides to ask questions on funding and why certain pieces of kit were rejected. In my opinion he hasn't been pressed nearly hard enough on this.

  • Comment number 46.

    " ... Gordon Brown wrote to Chilcot to make publicly very clear that politics was not the reason for the timing of his appearance ..."

    Seriously, does Gordon Brown ever do anything for anything other than political reasons? Brown seems to me to be a machine politician. He lives his life with, through, for and because of his political ambitions.

    Perhaps this is why Brown appears to have struggled so much in the highly visible role of Prime Minister? Most of us ordinary folk view him as some from of alien species.

  • Comment number 47.

    #20 you cannot go to war on a pack of of lie and then deliberatly underfund the campaign, that I'm affraid is not on

  • Comment number 48.

    An inquiry is only of any use or importance if people tell the truth or are forced to do so. Brown has told untruths to the whole of Britain for years and the investigation does not seem to be engaged in very robust questioning, so he will not tell the truth now. Therefore will anything be gained much, I doubt it.

  • Comment number 49.

    A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest....Paul Simon

    But should this be the people running the country?

    My view is NO. I think the decision was made before the vote in the HoC. Have an awful feeling that the government hounded David Kelly and that Gilligan was right.

    Not sure how that stacks up with conspiracy etc but then SPIN from both sides.

    I doubt Brown will know the truth if it bit him....

  • Comment number 50.

    Love him or hate him Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister.

    And the people of this country did elect the Labour Party to govern.

    And re-elected them after we declared war on Iraq.

    Anyway at least he’s prepared to go the enquiry.

  • Comment number 51.

    Re #48 Susan

    Gordon is hoping to gain a few more percentage points, he could still win the election yet.
    Unless the conservatives get up and make some noise they may end up losing - wait a minute, perhaps thats the plan after all?
    The upcoming election could be titled "The election nobody wanted to win"
    Which of course says it all about how well represented the working people of Britain are I reckon

  • Comment number 52.

    Maybe the other explanation of what's going on is that Brown is planning a March election after all.

    It would, of course, be totally inappropriate to give evidence in the last couple of weeks of an election campaign, so much to Gordon's regret, he'll just have to postpone his appearance. What a terrible shame.

    It would also get them out of having to have an utterly miserable budget just before an election. Come to think of it, it's all starting to make a lot of sense...

  • Comment number 53.


    Susan, I think you've hit the nail on the head there. It was a great mistake not to call witnesses under oath. Gordon knows he can tell whatever porkies he likes and there will be no consequences if he is caught.

  • Comment number 54.

    rr @ 37

    "still sagamix and his newlabour apologist chums come on these posts and claim Gordon Brown will pull off the Chilcot enquiry"

    Was just giving my take on it, Robin, not predicting a Brown triumph. Misrepresenting me, you are, aren't you? - even after I made all that effort, just yesterday, to clue you in on the theory & practice of equality.

    As for this "newlabour apologist" business. Hardly. How can a person who's entered a dangerous flirtation (43) with the Liberal Democrats be any sort of blinkered "apologist" for anything. Doesn't the term more suit a Contruct who is so wedded to the idea of a Tory government that he's happy to cut public spending too much, too soon? Actually WANTS to cut too much, and too soon. The "too mucher" and "too sooner" the better.

    Questions to answer, Robin, I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 55.

    Chilcot's original purpose for interviewing Gordon Brown and other Party Leaders after the election was to avoid the opportunity for Party electioneering. Which seemed to be a sensible precaution.
    Now that electioneering is to be permitted, should we presume that Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy will also be invited to be publicly interviewed before the election?
    I doubt if this change to Chilcot's plan will be helpful, but it might make the process more fun for political scribblers.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nick Robinson:

    No, there will no escaping the Iraq debacle because...there is many questions and things that the public wants to know from Gordon Brown and Tony Blair leadership in office......

    -Dennis Junior-

  • Comment number 57.

    Any inquiry which is not allowed access to ALL relevant documents is being handicapped. This together with the absence of some obvious questions (two mentioned by Andrew Neil last night) gives rise to legitimate doubts about the CI's ability to achieve its aims.

    One pattern which is emerging is the differing attitudes and opinions of Blair and his confidants and those in Intelligence and the civil service.
    Again, something which we can extract from previous inquiries and publications.

    Brown's appearance is unlikely to have any influence on voters at the election. We are unlikely to learn anything that we don't already know or will change our existing opinions. If it plays out as I suspect it will I believe Brown is right to appear before the election. One less stick for the opposition.

  • Comment number 58.

    43. At 09:50am on 22 Jan 2010, sagamix

    You know as well as I do a vote for the LD's means 5 more years of Labour.

    The LD are more preferable than Labour but Labour is what you will get and you know it.

  • Comment number 59.

    #53. At 10:10am on 22 Jan 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:


    Susan, I think you've hit the nail on the head there. It was a great mistake not to call witnesses under oath. Gordon knows he can tell whatever porkies he likes and there will be no consequences if he is caught."

    Perhaps not legal consequences but most certainly political, Brown will not lie, that doesn't mean he will tell the whole truth either, a subtle but important difference and something that could still occur even if evidence were to be given under oath.

  • Comment number 60.

    It may be a "mystery" to you Nick how this came about but not to many others. How can you be so certain this wasn't on the pre-election grid?

    Part of the election strategy is to place 'good news' stories in the media with Brown's name up there.

    I agree with #30 excellentcatblogger on this - a target of one Brown headline a day! The difference between BBC and ITV news this week has indeed been staggering.

    Team Brown has calculated he's nothing to lose by appearing at Chilcot before the election. After all he's a dab hand at being in denial and denying everything. And as you noted Nick he's been left with no choice.

    His appearance so close to an election is worth its weight in free publicity but goes against the grain of Chilcot's original plan to steer clear of party politicking.

    Today then it's another 'Brown' headline for BBC News reportedly first leaked to the Mirror.

    A fitting end to election spinning Good News Week?

  • Comment number 61.


    "Brown will not lie"

    You do know we're talking about Gordon Brown, right? Lying is deeply embedded in his DNA.

  • Comment number 62.

    cynic @ 28

    "I'd expect Brown to have to answer questions about what funding requests from MoD were approved or rejected. Unless Brown approved every single request then it could make for some very uncomfortable headlines"

    Uncomfortable headlines, yes, for sure. But I'm not quite as Gung Ho on this as others. The MoD seem to be the most incompetent department in Whitehall (by a distance) ... not sure it's wise to throw too much taxpayer money at them.

  • Comment number 63.

    How very noble of Brown to write to the Inquiry to say he would be available at any time to face them and their questions. Who does he think he is?!!

    Chilcott, to my mind, was wrong to say that current leading figures would not be called until after the General Election. Why? He has been asked to deliberate over this Inquiry and if the course of actions dictate that certain personnel are to be called the timetable should not be interferred with by a GE.

    Brown was part of the Government and central to the decision making of the Iraq invasion. He cannot escape that fact nor should the Inquiry give him any preferential treatment. He like Blair are public servants and are answerable to the nation.

  • Comment number 64.

    Sagamix @ 26:

    "It's probably the truth, so that should help."

    Wow! Thanks for pointing that out.

    That's on a par with your reference to Karl Marx on first name terms a few weeks ago. You are very, very special aren't you? Just that little bit more enlightened than most. Go on - admit it. I dare you. No, darn it, I double dare you - admit what we all suspect about you.

    So, Mr / Ms Mix, how is it "probably" the truth? Or is it more a case of it "probably" being want you want to be the truth?

    For added entertainment, if you could make reference to "Clowns" and the noble yet isolated and misunderstood cause of traffic wardens, then even better.

  • Comment number 65.


    you and your newlabour apologist chums really are like the condemned man who agrees to take the lie detector test aren't you?

    It is poresumably the same motivation that is driving Gordon Brown now with Chilcot.

    So numbed are you to the failures and cover ups of newlabour and its thriteen years of spin and waste that you put your hands up to take the test as if the mere act of it will sanctify you.

    Sadly that great lie detector test to end all tests is coming soon; doubtless you'll tell us you're looking forward to that to and slepp walk your way into a crushing defeat.

    As for your wilder claims about cutting too soon, that's like telling a dying patient that it's too soon to take the tumour out. You would let it grow, I'm for removing it before it does anymore damage. And I have yet to have your answer to giving a single example of a country that emerged faster out of a recession as a result of prodigous levels of government spending and debt. Notwithstanding the consistent failure of newlabour apologists to address the issue fo the crowding out of private sector recovery spending by profligate government spending.

    It's flattering to get so much attention form you boys but it only tells me you're drowning in your own arguments.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 66.

    61. At 10:26am on 22 Jan 2010, DisgustedOfMitcham2 wrote:


    "Brown will not lie"

    You do know we're talking about Gordon Brown, right? Lying is deeply embedded in his DNA."

    Neither is he a fool, how ever much the Tories and right wing press like to make him out to be. Brown never lies at PMQs, he knowns that he will be found out (and that he will have the roth of the parliamentary standards committee if he did) but he most certainly doesn't answer the question asked - that does NOT equate to lying. Of course you might be thinking of other instances and as such could stand up in a law court and defend your assertions?...

    I say all the above as someone who thinks that Brown (certainly during his tenure as PM) has been the worse thing for Britain since the 'Charge of the Light brigade'!

  • Comment number 67.

    Sagamix @ 62: "The MoD seem to be the most incompetent department in Whitehall (by a distance) ... not sure it's wise to throw too much taxpayer money at them."
    Possibly true, but perhaps you could provide some actual evidence. I know the word "seem" gives you some wriggle room but I think you ought to back your assertion with (a) hard evidence of incompetence, and (b) equally hard evidence that other departments are not as bad.("by a distance")
    I will admit that (a) may not prove *too* difficult.
    Jack Straw's performance was quite reasonable, as an earlier poster commented. In the end I suspect that the same could be said of several contributions to the enquiry. I think the best that we can hope for as an outcome from the whole inquiry is a damning indictment of "processes" rather than any damning indictment of "persons". With luck there will be plenty of scope for reading between the lines.

  • Comment number 68.

    I would like MH and NC to go before chilcott so that they can were indeed lied to , and before TB and GB as well

  • Comment number 69.

    65 Robin

    I do enjoy your anti-Labour rants, in the same way I enjoy the bits in Fawlty Towers when Basil loses it. But there's also something to be said for versatility.

    Paul Simon has already cropped up on this thread; your posts call to mind another of his songs:

    He's a One Trick Pony.

  • Comment number 70.

    Is there any slight possibility that anything resembling the truth will come out of Brown's mouth ? It would be the first time this gentleman ever told the whole truth about anything. If his record on answering questions in the house of commons is anything to go by he will use the inquiry as a soapbox to slate the Tories, in fact he might even blame them for attacking Iraq. One thihg is certain, he will lie and all correspondence and, or records which might contradict him will have already gone to the shredder.

  • Comment number 71.

    PortcullisGate @ #6 wrote, "If all you are bother about is maintaining your benefits or your public sector job then you have to vote Labour but its never a vote for the country as a whole its a self serving vote that over rides the good of the country.

    Unfortunately 30% of the electorate seem to think this way."

    Ostriches show remarkable ways of avoiding the inevitable and soon-to-leave-Parliament MPs and their electors also display such similar stupidity in the face of adversity.

    As regards, Chilcot, I can only imagine that Gordon is so relieved at the gentle questiopning being directed at witnesses that he knows he can bluff his way out of any responsibility for the war or any shortfall in funding for which he might have been subject to criticism.

    The good thing is that the remaining 70% of the electorate will not forgive him regardless of the Chilcot Inquiry questioning being so witness-gentle.

  • Comment number 72.

    Nick, we know that Gordon Brown has only decided to come before the Chilcot inquiry because it is now known that Blair is going to 'stick the professional knife into his ex chancellor' when he gives his evidence. Hoon opened the door for Blair to make Gordon the 'fall guy' only last week. I dare bet the 'word' in Westminster is that Gordon will have to do someting to try to 'balance' public opinion so close in the run up to the General Election.

  • Comment number 73.

    port @ 58

    "You know as well as I do a vote for the LD's means 5 more years of Labour"

    You've got to vote for what you believe in - shouldn't try to get too "clever" about it. If I wanted to cut public spending way too hard and miles too soon, for example - or if I fancied tax breaks for marriage and/or dead people with nice houses - or if I had a hankering to see the return of The Hunt - then I'd vote Conservative and nothing would stop me. Wouldn't be knocked off course by people telling me "Vote Tory, Get Clegg" or some such sophistry.

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm guessing that no purpose will be served by Brown being questioned.

    He'll just do the same as Campbell did; he'll either give a version of events that appears to be completely different to what actually happened, or he'll dodge all the relevant questions.

    His response will be no different to PMQs; it'll be entirely pointless, he won't answer any questions with relevant answers, and he'll lie, obfuscate, or mislead whenever he thinks he needs to.

    The only way that a purpose will be served would be if the panel confront him head-on/hard when he refuses to answer questions or when he lies/misleads/obfuscates, and if that gets reported in the media, and I can't see that happening.

    You'll probably find that a few days after he gives "evidence", his answers will be found to be "technically/legally correct" but will be misleading to the point of being blatent lies for all practical purposes. Just like his "abolishing" of the lowest rate tax rate (which, in reality, turned out to be a doubling). He was technically correct in what he said, but he knew full well that was he was saying was a blatent lie in the wider context.

    It'll be the same as it always is with Brown; he'll "technically" tell the truth, but his answers will in practical terms end up being blatent lies because he'll hide/obfuscate relevant other facts.

    That's what he does.

    That's all he does.

  • Comment number 75.

    70 kaybraes

    Perhaps it would be fairer to wait and watch before deciding that Brown's evidence to the inquiry is a lie. That's the British way, isn't it?

    Without some mystical direct line to the truth, it is impossible to know whether people are lying in an inquiry; you can only look for contradictions and inconsistencies and then press those cracks, hoping they'll give way. Personally, I think the evidence from Brown, Blair and Straw will hold up quite well to scrutiny because I do not believe they are covering anything up. You might think with hindsight that they made the wrong decisions on Iraq, but that's a different issue. The usual defence applies: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

  • Comment number 76.

    Of course Brown was faced with a no-win situation in waiting until after he election to appear before the committee, he would have received merciless Tory propaganda. He has nothing to lose. I suspect No10 wanted this released and out of the way before the weekend potential media shenanigins. Both Hatty and DC are making speeches which have already been trailed but 'should' represent the cutting-edge of the Parties confrontations on 'Society' and 'Equality':



    Perhaps we should take Cleggy more seriously as he still could be the 'Kingmaker.' Guardian: 21.1.10 : ''And the general election winner is ... Cameron ''
    Pollsters predict Tory win but with Lib Dems as kingmaker in off-the-cuff
    predictions at meeting to refine polling methods

  • Comment number 77.

    wonk @ 67

    "Possibly true, but perhaps you could provide some actual evidence"

    Well there's the stuff which came out recently. We all read that. And then there's a series of pretty good "inside expose" type posts from the Fubar Saunders construct - or Bill De Zaas as he became known, for reasons best known to himself - they added credence and colour. But forget the detail, you don't really need it to conclude that the MoD is the worst in Whitehall. Just consider the Big Picture. We throw money at Health, we get better hospitals. We throw money at Education, we get better schools. We throw money at Defence and we get invasions of far off Muslim countries. So where's most of the waste? ... where's ALL of the waste, in fact?

  • Comment number 78.

    Can we all first please agree that this inquiry has become a farce. I for my sins had to watch the debacle, which was Jack Straw being QUESTIONED...... if that is what they call it. I have seen my daughter conduct a more in depth investigation regarding who moved her dolls when she was out. And probably the consequences would be more far reaching than the outcome of this inquiry.

    So far I have not seen any one pushed or tested. Jack answered what he wanted and just side stepped the questions that he thought may cause him any trouble.

    Our Tony will run rings around these ever so nice chaps.

    And Gordon will use it to confirm that he is the messier.....

    I for one cant wait for him to go to join his father at his LEFT hand!!!!!

    Please can we put politics to one side and return to the fact that this Government took us into a war that the majority of the British public did not want. Can we have some professional investigators to conduct the questioning if nothing else.

    Then the inquiry can tell us that nothing wrong was done and the Government saved us from our selves, God bless Tony and Gordon.

  • Comment number 79.

    Being a cabinet memebr means collective responsibililty so what distinction might GB want to draw - or is this when the poo hits the fan he is nowhere to be seen?

  • Comment number 80.

    73. At 11:01am on 22 Jan 2010, sagamix

    In a voting system that has been stitched up to favour the Labour party by the head of the boundary commission one Gorbals Mick you can't afford to be complacent.

    Also Labour can to power via a backroom deal between Paddy and Blair.

  • Comment number 81.

    I expect that Brown will just say it's all the fault of the Americans.

  • Comment number 82.

    Chris @ 78 wrote:
    And Gordon will use it to confirm that he is the messier.....

    Presumably that's why he needs that cleaner.

  • Comment number 83.


    You clearly have inside knowledge but Brown being reluctant to spend on the military may be incompetent, wasteful or unwise (those are opinions however not facts) but it is a political choice and he's a Labour politician - of course he is reluctant to spend on the military he has different priorities. Whilst Brown has shown little cognisance of the notion of spending within your budget - how you split up a finite budget is a political choice and not a crime, it's a matter of priorities. He may have the wrong ones - but that too is a matter of opinion.

    The enquiry is about Iraq, so whilst the sum total of various procrastinations may have contributed to the outcome when we were there, they are anecdotal and peripheral to the central question, why we went there in the first place and what and how preparations were made to enable us to go.
    Also so far as I can recall your main theme of copters has become a big issue in Afghanistan but was not in Iraq, the shambles and lack of planning for the aftermath was more obvious - that is what cost lives.
    The actual invasion I recall went remarkably well and cost fewer lives than had been expected (on 'our' side that is). The aftermath was the problem.

    What you need to detail if you want them to nail him(and a letter to Chilcott may work if you have the info in a way that you can release) is a very specific piece of spending which the military told the MOD was an imperative before even considering joining Bush in Iraq and which Brown vetoed.
    From what Hoon said at the enquiry I can well imagine that that smoking gun could be there waiting for the right question to be asked (it certainly isn't going to be volunteered)- is it copters, body armour, something else, tell them and let them ask, Brown when obfuscating or avoiding is so blindingly obvious he will hang himself if he did.

    What many people seem to want is the piece of paper where Blair and co clearly state war under any circumstances must happen, legal or not, able or unable to fight it militarily or financially, whatever is costs in lives, even if we have to invent the evidence to support it.
    That is for sure not in existence now even if it ever was which I doubt.

  • Comment number 84.

    For Heaven's sake! The whole inquiry is absolute hogwash! Unimportant people in global terms squeaking their fury like little mice. We went to war in Iraq for only one reason, and that is because the Americans had decided that they were going to do it anyway! Does nobody remember pronouncements from the US of A at the time making it absolutely clear that they were going to invade, whether anybody 'helped' them or not? We can examine our reasons for helping them and decide whether or not it was the right thing to do if we want to - although I can't see how any political party or PM would have had the guts to refuse Bush. But the decision to atually start the war in the first place was completely out of our hands. The importance attached to all these 'documents' and 'dossiers' is just laughable. You might as well make the whole lot public. Send them to the papers. None of them matter. If we had refused to go in, does anybody seriously think Bush would have called a halt? Did Bush really think that there were WMDs? Only he knows. He had his reasons for attacking, and we really need to ask him what they were. But we won't. As for the war, he would have gone in alone and we know it. Then what? Bang goes our so-called 'special relationship' with Uncle Sam. No leader would have wanted to risk that. We aren't the glorious empire any more. Our paltry island and its forces are incapable of engaging Iraq alone, even if we believed all this guff about WMDs. In fact, even if Saddam had brought out several working nuclear missiles and waved them in our faces we could have done nothing unless America agreed to help. What did we do there anyway? We just milled about in Basra for a few years whilst the Americans did all the big stuff. Whilst I don't wish to decry our forces and their bravery, in real strategic terms our contribution was minimal. Our presence was a mere gesture. I actually felt sorry for Blair, because he was put in an impossible position. He was dragged into a conflict that everybody over here knew was fruitless and illegal because the only other option would be to snub America. Doing this doesn't seem to have hurt anyone else, but we seem to have convinced ourselves that we need Uncle Sam. You want the reasons for war, go and ask Bush. He is the key player. Our discussion is about as helpful as the boot boys at United trying to discuss why the first team lost at City.

  • Comment number 85.

    81. At 11:24am on 22 Jan 2010, DistantTraveller wrote:
    I expect that Brown will just say it's all the fault of the Americans.

    What about the Bankers surely there must be some hook they can be hung on.......

  • Comment number 86.

    attersee @ 64

    "For added entertainment, if you could make reference to "Clowns" and the noble yet isolated and misunderstood cause of traffic wardens, then even better"

    I don't call Tories "Clowns" anymore. Call them "Conservatives". And I've also stopped saying "babe" to people. It was just getting in the way, all that stuff. One or two were getting the impression I was on here principally to mess around when, in fact, I'm serious as hell. The job - and it is a job - is to make sure that nobody bar the Rock is even thinking of voting Conservative come June 3rd. If it works, they'll be wiped out as a party. They'll be DEAD. Forever. Can you imagine? One single vote (!) in the whole of the UK. Maybe one less if Robin gets trapped inside somewhere on the Big Day. So it's game on between now and then, and I do NOT want all those people - potential tory voters - who are persuaded by the power of my political analysis to be turned off by some stupid (and totally unnecessary) "Clowns" jibe. Or the like.

  • Comment number 87.

    Sagamix @ 77; Although it's a truly horrible expression "I see where you're coming from". Yes we have better schools as a result of throwing money at education, but I query whether we have achieved better education. I agree we threw money at hospitals, and while the hospitals got better the scale of the improvement for *patients* is less easy to quantify. How about DEFRA and BSE / Foot & Mouth / Rural Payments? Hardly textbook examples of good management. Or the Health Service and Swine Flu provision; "ditto". I think we could agree that the proper management of OUR money by Westminster and Whitehall is generally pretty poor without singling out the MOD for special opprobrium.

    Chris London @ 78: I liked your comparison of the Inquiry questioning and that of your daughter; firstly it was amusing, and secondly it is uncomfortably true. I think this is the result (intended?) of having ex civil servants and the like running the inquiry; they don't do "confrontation", at least not openly in a manner obvious to the public. However I doubt if Gordon & co would have been so apparently willing to appear if there was any serious risk of determined questioning. But it will be nonetheless interesting to see how GB handled it all. I will be surprised if he handles it all that well.

  • Comment number 88.

    saga @ 77

    "We throw money at Health, we get better hospitals. We throw money at Education, we get better schools. We throw money at Defence and we get invasions of far off Muslim countries. So where's most of the waste? ... where's ALL of the waste, in fact?"

    I personally don't agree with the war, however this has nothing to do with the funding issue. The point is that if we are going to war then we must make sure upfront that we can pay for it.

    Irrespective of MOD's competance surely we can agree that one of two things should always happen when considering war; either:
    a) You decide not to go, or
    b) If you must go to war then the equipment needs of the armed forces are fully funded.

    Neither of these things happended with Iraq, and I think Brown must answer questions on (b).

  • Comment number 89.

    Brown's reputation for evasive answering direct questions is well known,for example at PMQs. Hopefully the Chilcot Enquiry will have the determination, credibility and tenacity to ask forensically thought provoking questions that will seek out and reveal the truth no matter how determined he is to obfuscate. If Chilcot has any credibility, it will be Brown's and Blair's nemesis.

  • Comment number 90.

    There is a book, I think by Richard Hofstadter, called "The Paranoid style in American politics" which has clearly spread here.Essentially it`s the way in which right wing populism in the post-war world, made sense of the institutional changes associated with an economy on a permanent war footing, and one which was increasingly dependent on the state for its stability after the great depression.

    Paranoia is an attempt to reconcile inward self importance with powerlessness in the face of social change which is not understood.The rhetoric of small state individualism is p*** against the wall of modern corporate power with its interlocking political,military and economic elites.Lobbies,pressure groups,interest groups and political funding fuel these new empires of concentrated economic and political power.

    Most of the posts above show similar symptoms of paranoia and powerlessness.Suspicion that the Chilcot enquiry will not deliver the result they want;judgements of its impotence made in advance.Blair and Brown not truthful,they are guilty anyway, a further enquiry is redundant,they stand condemned.

    I am open minded on the results of Chilcot: I supported the war,my support is now more equivocal as more information comes to light.My guess about Blair and Brown at the enquiry is that Brown will be stolid and fairly uncommunicative,Blair has the ability to surprise.

  • Comment number 91.

    rr7 @ 65

    Robin, can you please stop saying "me and my newlabour apologist chums" - I don't like it. If I can discuss the issues of the day in a high minded, non partisan fashion - and it's clear enough that that's exactly what I AM doing - then so should you be able to.

  • Comment number 92.

    86. At 11:41am on 22 Jan 2010, sagamix

    "potential Tory voters - who are persuaded by the power of my political analysis"

    I've read you posts for months and am yet to see any judgement at all.

    In fact your the best recruiting Sargent for the anyone but Labour party I ever seen

    For gods sake please keep taking the tablets

  • Comment number 93.

    Dear Nick,
    Others probably feel deep satisfaction at this news. I certainly do – and this is why.
    Here follows the text of an e-mail I sent to the Chilcot Inquiry on 15th December 2009.
    "It has been reported that Tony Blair is to give evidence to the Iraq Inquiry. As he was Prime Minister at the time of the invasion, this is to be expected.
    It is widely considered that the dynamic of the relationship between him and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer – Gordon Brown, who is believed to have had more authority than has historically been usual in his position – was a sometimes uneasy partnership of equals. In short, the progress of the Blair government was dictated as much by the Chancellor’s willingness (or not) to pay for certain policies as by the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for any particular course of action.
    With this in mind, it should be a matter of concern to the Inquiry that the principle financier of the United Kingdom’s involvement in the Iraq War must be called upon to give evidence.
    I believe that the United Kingdom would never have joined the United States in this adventure had the Treasury – in the person of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown – not been prepared to pay for it."
    This elicited no response. I also used very similar wording on a petition I submitted on the same day on the No. 10 Downing St website. That was rejected on 29th December as under "Statements that don't actually request any action. Further information: The Prime Minister will give evidence to the Iraq inquiry." Of course at the time of my petition submission he had not been called - by the time it had been rejected, he had.
    I tried again. I re-worded it to ask that he should attend before the General Election, like his cabinet colleagues who are no longer in the same office. On 4th January this was again rejected as being "Outside the remit or powers of the Prime Minister and Government. Further information: It is up to the inquiry committee to decide when they would like to hear evidence from different individuals. The PM does not have a say in this process." Again, this was a risible, lawyerly evasion.
    At the risk of becoming obsessed, I had another go. I submitted a new petition, asking that even though it was up to the members of the Inquiry to invite the Prime Minister to attend, nevertheless it was in the Prime Minister's power to publicly state that he wished to do so even though they had not yet invited him." This was also rejected on 13th January.
    However, I find it gratifying that after every petition submission – and shortly before each rejection – the game has moved on and the wishes of this particular voter have been granted. This is a fantastic example of democracy in action! It has not needed the input of a Johnny-come-lately in the person of Nick Clegg. All it has required is an evasive, weak, cornered, weasely, squirming Prime Minister – too scared that other petitioners might also get the chance to drag him unwillingly to the Inquiry to answer for his actions.
    I now know that any current or future protestations that he was always happy to appear before the Inquiry are false.

  • Comment number 94.

    Well, if Brown's appearance had been postponed until after an election it would have deprived the electorate of essential information on which to base their vote.

    Maybe, just maybe, Britain is becoming a democracy again.

  • Comment number 95.

    Is anyone else getting tired of this witch hunt of Blair and now Brown ? If it isn't the Media and other "intelligencia" rewriting history, it is an acceptance without any discussion when someone states that the war was illegal... what law was broken ? How can this be said with such finality without ever being challenged ? Also, Surely the Chilcott enquiry should also be questioning those who so vehemently opposed the war and still do, because we need to understand the consequences if they would have had there way, what would the middle east look like today with Libya, Iran, and quite possibly Iraq all trying to develop Nuclear weapons !

  • Comment number 96.

    robin @ 65

    "And I have yet to have your answer to giving a single example of a country that emerged faster out of a recession as a result of prodigous levels of government spending and debt"

    What, than they otherwise would have done? ... that's easy.

    The UK.

  • Comment number 97.

    In reply to comments @ #80:

    "Also Labour can to power via a backroom deal between Paddy and Blair."

    Assuming that you are talking about '97, total tosh, what brought Labour to power were the sleaze engulfing the Tories at the time, whilst there were electoral deals between 'Paddy and Blair' had there not been (at worst, for Labour) it would have just resulted in a lower over-all majority.

  • Comment number 98.


    In the specific case of Iraq he would be absolutely right. Or do you think Blair talked Bush into it?

  • Comment number 99.

    #17 Portcullis

    Granted, any future dossier will be met with great sceptism although why the first one wasn't challenged amazes me. Scot Ritter and then Hans Blix were being quite clear that there were no WMD.

    Why nobody in the combined Labour and Conservative group of parliament, with the exception of Robin Cook, seemed to challenge their flimsy 'dossier' on the basis of expert opinion amazes me. Or why nobody thought to actually represent their constituents and vote against in either party is sinister.

    It bring to the fore this issue of weapons inspectors - we have to ask what they're there for when bellicose nations simply ignore their advice when it's unwanted.

    Furthermore, and more importantly, we have to ask who our locally elected MPs represent? It seems they certainly don't pay any attention to us. Our democracy is a front on the basis of Iraq and many other issues. We desperately need widespread reform before there can be change, David Cameron knows that so his words are 'airbrushed' too. Of course, Gordon Brown just lies.

    On the subject of Atlantic Bridge, for any senior politician to be in cahoots with the very architects of the war means there will be more dossiers but they'll be positioned differently - it appears that Iran is the next target. The press and political language is exactly the same as with Iraq and they ignore the inspections reports.

  • Comment number 100.

    96. sagamix wrote:

    "And I have yet to have your answer to giving a single example of a country that emerged faster out of a recession as a result of prodigous levels of government spending and debt"

    What, than they otherwise would have done? ... that's easy.

    The UK.

    Is the UK out of recession yet ????

    Don't worry sagamix, whatever the merits or benefits of levels of government spend, we have all yet to start the long painful process of actually paying for it.

    Perhaps you could devise an equality of opportunity quota system for this? All in the interests of what you call fairness of course !!!!


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