Why the Chilcot Report must be published before the General Election.

by Ray_North on January 21, 2015

imagesThe Chilcot Inquiry was set up by Gordon Brown in 2009. It’s terms of reference were to look at the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the invasion itself and the subsequent post invasion division of responsibility.

Now, as you’ll recall, i’m sure, the initial issue was whether the Inquiry should be held in public or private (it was eventually deemed public) and whether there would be absolute right to disclosure – to which it was deemed that the Americans ‘would hand over what they felt able and would be of assistance.’ Which you can read as you like.

Six years later the report is still not ready – but according to Sir John Chilcot, ‘substantial progress has been made,’ but many of those who are referenced in the report seek time to present their responses, and this will take the date of publication beyond the date of the next general election.

This is a huge disappointment. In fact, it’s more than that, it’s a disgrace.

I have no doubt whatsoever, that if the report is now ready and its findings have been drafted then, those who may appear in it, are more than capable of drafting their responses well within the five months that exist between now and the general election. Chilcot should place a bar on any formal responses – effectively giving any of those who involved twenty eight days to respond, with a right of reply to the committee of twenty eight days thereafter – this would take us to the middle of April, and would comfortably allow for a publication date before the general election.

Why is the date of the election important?

Quite simply, because one of the most important roles that Government and Parliament performs is the process of taking us into a war, especially when that war takes the form of the invasion of a sovereign country. The decision to go into Iraq has strongly suggested that the whole process of Parliamentary scrutiny and government decision making was circumvented, manipulated and overridden – and this is massively important.

Politicians need to realise that one of the reasons why many people feel abandoned by Westminster and disaffected by the democratic process is because they don’t trust politicians because of, among other things, the Iraq War. Politicians need to realise that if trust is going to be restored then important questions need to be answered. After all, a soldier goes into battle because he is carrying out the will of the people as articulated by Parliament – he kills in our name. And, as such we have the absolute right to ensure that the process is being carried out properly and professionally – which, it almost certainly wasn’t in the run up to Iraq.

I fear that the reason why the Chilcot Report is being kept under wraps until after the general election is because its findings will be too inflammatory for Labour and the Conservatives to cope with and that it is deemed easier for both of them to get on with the process of electioneering without having to fire-fight about the Iraq War. I also fear that the influence of some former influential politicians has been brought to bear upon the whole process. I hope not.

I’m fairly confident that ultimately Chilcot will be a disappointment, I’m fairly confident that when I read it (and I do actually intend to get a copy of this), I will left trying to wade through hundreds of pages of obfuscation and whitewash in a desperate attempt to find answers that probably won’t be there.

I hope, I’m wrong, but, in any event, the people deserve the right to see for themselves how Parliament and Government dealt with Iraq, before the general election, because on May 7th, we will being asked to give a mandate to people who may be asked again to go to war in our names.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

George_East January 21, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Well said. I think the two biggest reasons why politicians are currently held in the same level of contempt that we used to reserve for estate agents and tabloid journalists are:

(i) the perception that the Blair administration lied its way into the Iraq war in order to maintain good relations with Washington DC; and

(ii) the expenses scandal

The perception that a (long overdue) report is now being held up further to save the political establishment from embarrassment this side of the election only adds to that (even if that perception is actually untrue – ie even if there are other reasons for the delay).

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