David Blackburn

The Chilcot Inquiry is succeeding against the odds – and the Tories are benefitting

The Chilcot Inquiry is succeeding against the odds – and the Tories are benefitting
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The Tories should gain little from what is a Labour dominated affair, but the Chilcot Inquiry is doing the Tories a vicarious favour by succeeding against the odds. The government’s refusal to disclose the full range of relevant documents frustrates Chilcot, but it also compounds the impression that Downing Street has contrived to restrict the inquiry, which suggests that they have something to conceal. William Hague insinuated as much today  - his street-fighting instincts restored.

Despite the obstacles and a very slow start, Chilcot has disinterred a narrative that I suspect Labour wanted left undisturbed. The government’s determination to change Lord Goldsmith’s mind has been laid bare. It is now common knowledge that, contrary to his professed irrelevance, Jack Straw was integral to the building of a legal and diplomatic case for war that would by-pass a second UN Resolution. Geoff Hoon was ignorant of major discussions, not because of his escapades in Kiev hotels, but because Blair had marginalised the Defence Secretary - a reminder of the dysfunction that Blair’s style of government wrought. Gordon Brown must face the helicopter question and his record on choppers is scarcely awesome. Quite aside from Brown’s unpopularity, the inquiry has resuscitated the memory of the loathed Blair government and, even if it is the whitewash everyone expects, the spectatcle of Blair in the dock will be the Tories’ gain.