Unfinished business

by Chris Ames

In the Observer, Jamie Doward and I report that:

A cross-party group of MPs will make a fresh effort to hold Tony Blair to account for allegedly misleading parliament and the public over the Iraq war.

Key factors behind the move are both a sense of frustration that the government has so far done nothing since the publication of the inquiry report, except promise to learn the lessons of a lessons leaned inquiry, and last week’s disclosure that the Inquiry was designed by officials, many of whom had taken part in the events that it investigated, to “avoid blame”.

This sort of thing hasn’t helped either:

With his flag planted firmly in the “progressive centre ground” and with opposition to the Tories so divided, Blair is preparing for his re-entry into public life, though his plans remain inchoate. It’s almost as if he believes he’s on an ethical mission, that he has unfinished business. But the ground beneath his feet is shifting violently.


24 comments to this article

  1. Peter Beswick

    on November 28, 2016 at 10:52 am -

    When this is debated tomorrow I hope that MP’s realise how deliberately and mendaciously they and us were deceived.

    Here is something Blair didn’t say in the HoC on the 18th March 2003;

    “In the past week, Iraq has begun destroying its stock of al-Samoud II missiles, missiles that have a range greater than the UN-mandated limit of 150 kilometres. This is presented to the international community as evidence of President Saddam Hussein’s compliance with United Nations weapons inspectors.

    But Iraq always gave up materials once it was in its interest to do so. Iraq has spent the past 30 years building up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Although the current threat presented by Iraq militarily is modest, both in terms of conventional and unconventional weapons, it has never given up its intent to develop and stockpile such weapons for both military and terrorist use.”

    First lines from an article again from the Observer but this time written by Dr David Kelly days bfore the invasion of Iraq.

    www (dot) theguardian.com/politics/2003/aug/31/huttonreport.iraq

    Saddam was co-operating, UN sanctions were working, Saddam’s military presented a “modest” threat.

    And here is something he did say:

    “Then, a week later, Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, defected to Jordan. He disclosed a far more extensive biological weapons programme and, for the first time, said that Iraq had weaponised the programme—something that Saddam had always strenuously denied. All this had been happening while the inspectors were in Iraq.”

    www (dot) publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/vo030318/debtext/30318-06.htm

    The whole speech is riddled with half truths, sophism and LIES

    Referring to Hussein Kamal’s debriefing and adducing the precise opposite of what Kamal had said.

    This is what Kamal actually said;

    “I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons – biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.”

    “I made the decision to disclose everything so that Iraq could return to normal.”

    “nothing remained”

    www (dot) casi.org.uk/info/unscom950822.pdf

    And this is why;

    www (dot) theguardian.com/business/2003/feb/16/iraq.theeuro”nothing remained”

    If Blair had told the truth would Parliament have voted for war?

  2. Peter Beswick

    on November 28, 2016 at 12:10 pm -

    Even a Priest could not absolve Blair for that to happen Blair would have to say sorry for ordering British troops to assist the US in regime removal. Blair has repeatedly refused to say sorry for that.

    But criminals who have said sorry still go to jail and share cells with those that still profess their innocence.

    Hind sight is not required to prove Blair’s guilt or innocence. And because the legality issue has still not been settled government the matter now must be bought before a court.

    If it isn’t the sore will fester, confidence in justice and government will remain dangerously low, terrorism will be encouraged and more blood will be spilt.

    Where is democracy when you need it?

  3. Lee

    on November 28, 2016 at 12:57 pm -

    I dont think the commentaries about the period from the evolution of the war through to Brown’s approval of the Chilcot Inquiry, sufficiently emphasise that this was largely a Newlabour circus. While Tories had views about it all, its reasonable for them to feel that “none of this is our mess”. It wasnt simply Blair who was deluded, dysfunctional, and serially dishonest, it was his party as well. The pathological condition of the party has been dramatically revealed by the history since Brown stepped down, through the farce of Milliband, through the revival of Blair and the Blairites, through the attempted assassinations of Corbyn.

    Chilcot, understandably, makes it all seem like a civil service affair. But it was just as much a Labour Party affair, and that story, in all its gruesome detail, is still to be written.

    In addition, insufficient attention has been given to the Scottish dynamic. You’all down south, have no idea how much Blair and Blairism is detested in Scotland by the majority of the population. That hatred translated directly into hatred for Labour once Blair stepped down. The decline of Labour in Scotland is truly phenomenal.

    When Brown re-emerged as the Servant of the Union, during the referendum, that re-lit all the fires of loathing. Recall how the Scots humiliated the hapless Millibandians when they came up to lecture the Scots about what was in their best interests.

    The dynamic still remains…the detested Brown, and his arch-rival, Alex Salmond, who has been a relentless force to bring Blair to face some form of justice. He is one of the leaders of this cross-party group. And although the Scottish hatred has now been transferred to Bluestocking May and her Brexit Affair, the Blair Thing remains a symbol. Scots can be quite persistent. I dont expect Salmon to give up. Its not just Blair’s balls (sic) that he wants; its to ensure Labour remains down on its knees.

  4. Lee

    on November 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm -

    There is also a simmering, unresolved (probably unresolvable) fury at the way the US and Labour screwed and humiliated the proud Scottish legal system over the framing of Megrahi for the Lockerbie disaster. For many Scots, that variety of Anglo-American dishonesty and immorality is deeply indecent. And they perceive, with some justification, that the English arent at all bothered. It was this indecency that built the Empire, after all, and is now building the wealth of Tony Blair and his cronies. Scots tend to mythologize this stuff as a way of keeping it alive. Aye, there are many bones to pick.

  5. Chris Lamb

    on November 28, 2016 at 8:01 pm -

    If the cross party group can put together a convincing countervailing case to Chilcot’s about Blair misleading the House- either by intent or negligence- it will be a useful exercise and any such evidence could be used in a misconduct in public office or malfeasance prosecution. It would be even better if senior ministers in the Blair government culpable for the Iraq debacle- Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon etc- could also be brought in to a parliamentary cross examination.

    On the question of senior civil servants designing out the delivery of accountability from the proceedings and report of the Chilcot Inquiry, it is my view that Sir Gus O’Donnell should face a parliamentary committee to answer for drawing up Inquiry terms of reference which appear not only to rule out investigation and drafting findings of criminal misconduct (where such may exist) but also directs that the Inquiry should report any suspicions of criminal misconduct first to the government for ‘consideration’ rather than the relevant police authority.

  6. Chris Lamb

    on November 28, 2016 at 8:04 pm -

    Apologies- I should say Lord O’Donnell

  7. Lee

    on November 30, 2016 at 2:24 am -

    Bob’s reference provides further evidence of what I posted about the utter dysfunctionality of Labour, and its unshakable adherence to Blair and Blairism, despite the obvious rejection of these monstrosities by the party membership. It also underlines what I mentioned as the Scottish dimension. Chilcot is fast disappearing from the rear-view mirror as today’s dynamics take over.

    I strongly agree with Chris that Straw and Hoon should be part of any parliamentary action against Blair. I would add David (Rendition) Miliband and Beckett.

  8. Barb Bishop

    on November 30, 2016 at 9:19 pm -

    Yes, some debate. Corbyn, Abbott and McDonnell don’t even have the guts to turn up. SNP has 56 members of parliament so all Alex can muster is another 14 out of a parliament of 650?

    A Commons overwhelming endorsement of Tony Blair’s integrity – not before time. Now the greatest Labour Prime Minister next to Attlee can get on with the next task he has set himself – bringing sanity to Brexit.

  9. Lee

    on December 1, 2016 at 11:35 pm -

    Jesus !

  10. John Bone

    on December 7, 2016 at 5:01 pm -

    “What on earth is the “issue of great constitutional importance” that is referred to, here?”

    I don’t know but, as I have said elsewhere, this week’s constitutional case at the Supreme Court touches on the use of the royal prerogative in foreign affairs.

  11. Lee

    on December 7, 2016 at 5:28 pm -

    The High Court Brexit decision is an absurd outrage. It wasnt a legal judgment, it was a political judgment.

    I dont see any constitutional issues involved in Bob’s reference. Its posturing.

  12. BobM

    on December 7, 2016 at 10:04 pm -

    Well, Lee; for the first time we seem to be at odds.
    please read this, a mail I sent today:

    Hello, Linda.

    Thank you. I will be there.

    If you will forgive me, I am not sure that I adequately explained, on Tuesday, that the Supreme Court case is solely about the meaning, of this provision

    “Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.”

    as it applies in the UK (where there is a great deal of case law precedent, but no documented constitution).

    Unfortunately when DC, for party reasons, began this process, he and most parliamentarians, seem to have given absolutely no serious thought to the implications, either practical, or legal. And they produced an Act that is completely silent as to its constitutional impact.


    So the Supreme Court is now lumbered with the task of working out what “in accordance with its own constitutional arrangements” should be taken to mean, in the present context, given that Parliament did not bother to specify this in the Act.


    Apologies, if you do know all this, already.



  13. John Bone

    on December 8, 2016 at 9:23 am -

    I don’t see any immediate constitutional issues, either.

    However, a lawyer for Tony Blair might argue that he didn’t have to seek a vote in parliament or even that he didn’t have to get the approval of Cabinet before making commitments – so it doesn’t matter whether Blair misled Parliament or bypassed Cabinet. A legal case that gets into that territory might be interesting, simply because it would show how use of the Royal Prerogative potentially means no checks and balances in foreign affairs.

  14. Peter Beswick

    on December 9, 2016 at 9:23 am -

    I can see a Judicial Review (of the decision to assist the US in Iraq) looming

  15. Peter Beswick

    on December 9, 2016 at 9:53 am -

    Robert Blackburn’s guide to the British constitution is helpful

    So is Blair’s 2001 Ministerial Code, the 1997 HoC Resolution on Ministerial Accountability, Vernon Bogdanor’s take


    Which culminated in several Parliamentary guidance notes.

    But when matters arise that satisfy the codes/resolutions/notes that requires Minister(s) and Civil Servants (including special advisers) to resign..

    And they don’t. And Parliament refuse to correct matters then the first legal challenge would be via a Judicial Review.

    And depending which Judge(s) you get will decide the outcome in favour of government(s) or Justice

  16. Peter Beswick

    on December 9, 2016 at 10:08 am -

    If a JR route is being considered I suspect it must be taken within 3 months of Parliament deciding not to hold Blair to account.

    The Remedy would be for a Judge to order that Blair et al are held to account.

  17. Peter Beswick

    on December 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm -

    The courts’ ability to subject decisions of the executive to an
    independent review of lawfulness defines our constitutional
    climate. There is debate over the meaning of the rule of law; but
    it may be thought to have a core meaning for the judiciary in
    the context of judicial review. There is debate too over whether
    it is the will of Parliament (as traditionally understood) or the
    constitutional principle of the rule of law (as more recently and
    controversially suggested by some) which provides the theoretical
    justification for the courts’ judicial review jurisdiction. It may
    be thought sensible to take this debate into account whichever
    justification for judicial review may be favoured: if Parliament
    were to legislate in a way which the courts considered to be
    contrary to the rule of law, the courts would need to confront
    whether they consider their primary obligation to be to the will
    of Parliament, or to the constitutional principle of the rule of law.
    If the courts were to conclude the latter, they may feel justified in
    not applying Parliament’s will.

    Page 19

    for purpose of review