“We were in a bit of a lunatic asylum… I noticed Tony Blair in his evidence to you kept saying, ‘I had to decide, I had to decide.’ And indeed that’s how he behaved. But that is not meant to be our system of government.”
The sofa was barred to all except Bush and the Cabinet exercised collective ignorance. Even Brown was left to brood over cups of coffee and macaroons with Clare Short.
Short’s evidence must not be entirely discounted. Blair did marginalise the Cabinet: the Defence Secretary was banished to foreign climes at regular intervals and Alastair Campbell has explained how Clare Short was excluded because she was considered a security risk, which is preposterous.
However, that does not excuse Short, Hoon, Straw et al’s failure to scrutinise Blair. It is incredible that the Cabinet simply rolled over and thought of England, especially given the dubious nature of the intelligence that defined Blair’s case. Of course, not every Cabinet minister remained supine. The one witness who could settle the matter is dead.