Wednesday 25 March 2009

Iraq inquiry progress?

It is just over a year since Gordon Brown made his first public statement that he agreed with the need for an Iraq inquiry. This came in correspondence with me, after I wrote to press the case, just ahead of the 5th anniversary of the 2003 war.

The issue returns to the Commons today, on an opposition day motion. So David Miliband's speech today should help to clarify the government's position somewhat, though it is not clear how much we will find out about the form or timing of an inquiry, which is expected by the Autumn.

The reasons which the Prime Minister gave to me last March as to why that was not the right time for an announcement are decreasingly relevant, as preparations are made for the withdrawal of most British troops this summer.

Paul Waugh reports that David Miliband should confirm that those troops who remain would not be a good reason to postpone an inquiry.

The issue of the timing of an announcement has gone on for longer than was necessary. And there is a good case for allowing other parties to input into the form which it takes. (Senior Liberal Democrats like Sir Ming Campbell might feel they have rather more to offer than Mr Hague).

An inquiry is important in itself, to learn the lessons of this major and controversial war. It is also part of the necessary process to examine and bring closure to one of the most controversial issues - and so forms an important part of Labour's wish to reconnect to progressive movements.

1 comment:

Calix said...

Yes, I agree it's very important to have an enquiry, and it looks bad that the government keeps on delaying it. In fact, a sane enquiry will be less damaging that the constant speculation without one.

However, of course the delay is understandable because Gordon Brown and many other senior government colleagues are entangled (to more or less extent) from the start.

I agree one of the keys to a good enquiry (when it does happen)is that it is cross-party - also it should not drag on for ages, and have thorough experts rather than yes men.