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Daily View: Questions for Gordon Brown at the Chilcot inquiry

Clare Spencer | 09:11 UK time, Friday, 5 March 2010

Gordon BrownAs Gordon Brown prepares to appear at the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, commentators set out the questions they would like to be asked.

The Telegraph editorial says the public will want the inquiry to get to the bottom of reasons for inadequate equipment in Iraq:

"The country today is less interested in Mr Brown's part in the decision to topple Saddam, and more concerned to discover whether, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he did anything to place our soldiers in greater danger. Whether or not the Armed Forces were properly equipped is a matter that Mr Brown very much needs to address, especially given the continuing war in Afghanistan."

Gerald Warner in the Telegraph says Gordon Brown's antipathy to defence spending is notorious:

"It absorbs cash that, in his view, would be better bestowed as largesse on Towerblock Tracy with her five children to 11 putative fathers - a policy euphemistically described in Brown's weasel vocabulary as "eliminating child poverty". If the inquiry panel has any ambition to justify its existence it must pillory Brown on this."

Colonel Stuart Tootal was involved in the invasion of Iraq. He says in the Independent that he expects some "pretty tough questioning" of Gordon Brown on the provision of equipment which he remembers as poor:

"The prospect of conflict in Iraq was known about months in advance, but much of the kit that we needed only reached us just before we crossed the desert border leaving us little time to train with it. Some never arrived at all and some of it, such as the Snatch Land Rovers we were forced to use, was very obviously sub-optimal."

This sentiment is echoed by Susan Smith in the Times. Her son Private Phillip Hewett was killed by a roadside bomb whilst in a Snatch Land Rover. She isn't expecting her questions about soldier deaths to be answered:

"The political class want an inquiry into everything except what is important -- Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, decided that it was not "appropriate" to have an inquiry into the deaths of soldiers. We, the parents of the soldiers who died, feel completely cut off from the people in Westminster. Take the fuss about Lord Ashcroft: what on earth is the relevance to ordinary people of whether he paid his taxes when you have a real issue here -- the needless deaths of soldiers? The people in Westminster aren't just living in a bubble; they're on another planet."

Channel 4 news' Iraq inquiry blog outlines some key questions:

"Was Brown aware that Blair wrote to Bush in 2002 promising that if Iraq had to be disarmed militarily, "Britain will be there"? Did he support that stance?
Was Clare Short right to allege that Brown conspired with other Cabinet members to create "a lie, a deliberate lie", the 'blame the French' strategy to avoid responsibility for the collapse of diplomatic negotiations at the UN?"

Conservative MP John Redwood lists in his blog the questions he would like answered by Gordon Brown at the inquiry:

"What was his attitude to the war? Did he ever question its wisdom or its legality? Why didn't he make a strong case for it when out and about as a senior cabinet Minister in a government committed to it? Did he have any reservations then or now about what the UK did?"

Links in full

TelegraphTelegraph | The questions that Chilcot cannot duck
IndependentColonel Stuart Tootal | Independent | Brown is responsible for underfunding of troops
TimesSusan Smith | Times | Gordon Brown must tell me why my son had to die
John Redwood's DiaryJohn Redwood's diary | Time to ask about wars
Channel 4Channel 4 News | Iraq inquiry : Questions for Gordon Brown
TelegraphGerald Warner | Telegraph | Macavity cornered at last

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