Just get on with it!

by Chris Ames

In today’s Observer, Catherine Bennett has a piece headed “Chilcot’s continuing silence on Iraq is an affront to us all”. The gist of the piece is not just frustration at the continuing delays, noticeable as the tenth anniversary of the invasion approaches, but a refusal to accept Chilcot’s excuses, including the suggestion that Whitehall’s refusal to allow key documents to be published is to blame.

There must be confidence in “the integrity of its process”, Chilcot insists, in his latest dog-ate-my-inquiry update, as if what is expected from this particular handful of the great and good, selected for harmlessness and discretion, is not merely an advance on the Hutton whitewash, but a recognisable improvement on Holy Writ. There would now be most merit in publication, with a list of the blocked material, the documents to be added online as and when decency prevails.

It’s worth noting that it is now six months since Chilcot wrote to the PM to give his latest update and nearly as long since the Inquiry website was updated with this lack of news.


4 comments to this article

  1. chris lamb

    on January 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm -

    Perhaps we should not entirely lay the blame for this outrageous delay on Chilcot as, in setting up the Inquiry, it was evident that Gordon Brown’s purpose was to hole it below the waterline from the start and then watch it sink oh so very slowly. Thus, the lumbering of it with an impossibly wide and rambling remit; a wholly inadequate method of (witness) evidence gathering and cross-examination; an overweening (and non-transparent) surveillance by the Cabinet Office and, finally, the excision of all capacity to make a judgement about legality of the invasion.

    Notwithstanding the frustration about delay, if Chilcot can salvage something along the lines of a mouse that roars (a bit) from the huge constraints deliberately put in place by Brown’s government, it will be (somewhat) worthwhile. I doubt it though. The main lesson from this Inquiry will probably be the travesty of allowing such an Inquiry to be set up by the same (party) political executive which was responsible for the event being inquired into. Lesson learnt- not a recipe for accountability.

  2. Bobm

    on January 16, 2013 at 6:18 pm -

    The BBC and the Mail have also picked up on the royal veto story:


    but one suspects that it won’t run very far unless something more happens to catch press/public attention [which isn’t easy when we have to contend with horse meat in sausages and helicopters flying into cranes].

    I haven’t read Campbell’s diaries, but it might be interesting to check what he recorded at the time that Dalyell’s bill was scuppered.

  3. chris lamb

    on January 18, 2013 at 6:32 pm -

    Here is the text of Tam Dalyell’s 1999 10 Minute Bill;


    You will note it has particular salience to the context in which Operation Desert Fox was enacted in 1999, where neither the UN Security Council gave its authorization by majority vote nor the UK Parliament was consulted and or lent its approval.

    A resolution was put before Parliament- spoken to by Blair himself- seeking and obtaining a majority vote for the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, even if this was only one day before the invasion took place.

    I am not sure that Dalyell’s Bill is very useful in addressing the particular (and serious)failings of Parliament in relation to the 2003 invasion, even though it shows, in its own way, the overweening power of the Executive and its capacity to frustrate Parliamentary scrutiny.