With its publication, it now becomes understandable why the results of this Inquiry have taken so long to come into the public domain.
First commissioned by Gordon Brown in 2009, its findings were then vetoed by the then government, along with a successful appeal by the Foreign Office to block it because it would present a ‘significant danger’ to UK/US relations (some ‘Special Relationship’!). The fact that there was an impending election in 2015 further delayed its publication, which had already been put back to 2014.
In spite of the hope by parliament that it ‘would go away’, Sir John Chilcot has now finally presented his detailed findings to the public with all their sordid content. I don’t think there is a person in this country who is not shocked and its aftermath will remain with us for some time to come.
In amongst everything else, what was particularly abhorrent to me was the final confirmation of sending British troops into war without adequate protection. War is designed to kill people, both combatants and civilians and those who join up do so in the certain knowledge of this risk. They commit to the understanding of that risk when swearing the oath of loyalty:
I… swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals and officers set over me.
They are “duty bound, honestly and faithfully to defend us against all enemies”. HONESTLY AND FAITHFULLY! Where was that same “honesty and faithful dedication” by our government and armed forces, to fully equip those men and women before they put their lives in danger whenever their services are called upon?
Of the 179 servicemen and women who lost their lives in Iraq, how many were ‘murdered’ by our government because they were not properly equipped to go into battle? Even more odious are the photo ops by Blair, at which combatants who did not have full kit were replaced by those who did and with whom he is seen smiling and shoulder hugging?
Yesterday the nation watched as this man read from a carefully and legally vetted paper how he “believed we made the right decision”. How can it possibly be a right decision that sends ill prepared men and women to face potential death? How much does lack of equipment reduce the chances of winning, or is this what Blair meant in his undertaking to Bush that “I will be with you, whatever”?
His attempts at emotion and near tears whilst delivering his version of the truth simply added insult to injury and as one father, who had lost a son, commented “He was acting”.
In the cold light of day Blair went into politics with ambitions to be a major player on the world stage. He sought the support of not only the world’s most powerful political leader but also the world’s most powerful religious leader, when he very publicly converted to the Catholic church in 2007.
When he handed power over to Gordon Brown, also in 2007, he did not remain committed to the country, as so many ex PM’s have done but left parliament and with the initial help of G W Bush pursued his business interests, amassing a reported £60 million fortune to date.
Whilst he has been quoted as “Labours most successful leader” it has been at a price that questions the validity of such a statement. I do not seek to judge him, we are all fallible but rather thank him for giving British Society the opportunity to search our collective souls and focus upon power and its effect upon that fallibility.
Blair’s government, it now becomes increasingly clear, was run by an ‘armchair cabinet’ who seemed to only inform the full cabinet after events, thereby eliminating proper and thorough debate. Its strategic activities were carefully managed by twice disgraced Peter Mandelson. How the media reported those activities was even more carefully managed by a very adept Alistair Campbell.
Accountability was also carefully removed from the democratic equation by these people, as Chilcot has now shown. Not only is our political establishment’s current ability to govern limited, by corporate lords and masters who dictate what that limited government policy is but accountability is also only applied up the line to those corporate sponsors and not to the people who elected them to power.
Our whole democratic and political environment is now rotten to the core, with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn, who is the only beacon in this horrendous wilderness. He needs all the support he can get if we are to stand any chance of bringing the governing of this wonderful country and its people back from an abyss that Neoliberal values and politics are now taking us.
Sir John Chilcot points the direction forward through his diligence and perseverance, together with a choice of words that leave no ambiguity as to what aberrations our political class are capable of, if not properly supervised. It is that supervision we must now focus upon and the British people are better placed than any to do this.
We are now only accountable to ourselves and as such the job becomes more manageable without distant interference. We must begin by insisting upon another general election, to either support or not the intentions of the new Tory leader and not repeat the undemocratic handover of power that occurred with Labour.
Let us work together to get our own house back in order and then we can address the problems of the outside world, setting an example of what people driven democracy is all about in this 21st century.
Until the next time
Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes