Take the intervention that Hague made on 24 September, 2002:
“Does the Prime Minister recollect that, in the half-century history of various states acquiring nuclear capabilities, in almost every case—from the Soviet Union in 1949 to Pakistan in 1998—their ability to do so has been greatly underestimated and understated by intelligence sources at the time? Estimates today of Iraq taking several years to acquire a nuclear device should be seen in that context, and within that margin of error. Given that, and the information from defectors five years after the Gulf war, that 400 nuclear sites and installations had been concealed in farmhouses and even schools in Iraq, is there not at least a significant risk of the utter catastrophe of Iraq possessing a nuclear device without warning, some time in the next couple of years? In that case, does not the risk of leaving the regime on its course today far outweigh the risk of taking action quite soon?”
It is also rather galling to hear Hague calling for parliamentary scrutiny, when on the 25th of February, 2003, his idea of this was to take time during a debate to ask Tony Blair if he would “accept from a long-standing critic and opponent that his policy is absolutely in the interests of this country and the wider world?”
There is an unpleasant and deeply unserious whiff of opportunism about the Tory volte-face on Iraq. The party supported the war in the Commons and failed to make the case for a change in strategy during the first three, failing years of the war, it then became an advocate of the deeply flawed but establishment-backed Baker-Hamilton approach. At a time when this country is fighting two wars, any potential government needs to show that it will always put high principle before cheap popularity. On Iraq, the Tories have not demonstrated this.