Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Some predictions for The Great Inquiry: The Second Wave

As we're all going to have another inquiry into the intelligence assessments about Iraq, I thought I'd record my feelings as they happened and make some predictions based (I hope) on reason. "The prime minister has announced that there will be a new inquiry into intelligence failures.." (Emotion: Relief/Schadenfreude) "The inquiry will consist of Privy Councillors from all political parties" (Silly grin) "..and will be chaired by Lord Butler of Stockwell, the former Cabinet Secretary" (Hmmmm) "who cleared the radical changes in No.10 Downing Street after the 1997 election" (Foreboding) "..and is said to be a strong supporter of top-up fees" (Mild despair, nausea) "The Liberal Democrats will not take part, as the inquiry will not touch on the political judgements based on that intelligence" (Oh God, here we go again).

Some predictions, then! The inquiry will successfully unearth various chunks of political plutonium - spooks will testify that it was all nonsense and their political masters were at fault, embarrassing documents will emerge unexpectedly - and will then retire to seclusion to prepare its conclusions. Finally, the report will be released and will just - just - avoid slamming the lumps together...

Especially when you see the make-up of this committee. Lord Inge, ex-Field Marshal, former Chief of the Defence Staff (fair enough), "former senior civil servant" Sir John Chilcott (no prizes for guessing what he'll decide, then), Labour MP Ann Taylor, chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (yes, the one who missed Jack Straw's porky about chemical weapons, a former Chief Whip..), and the Conservative MP Michael Mates. Michael Mates? Michael Mates!
The bloke who sent Asil Nadir a watch inscribed "DON'T LET THE BUGGERS GET YOU DOWN" after he was caught ripping off hordes of small shareholders, a crime for which he has since escaped justice by skipping bail to Northern Cyprus? Yes, the very same! What a moral arbiter!

Rant switch to safe, please.

Oh yes, and the committee will meet in private. I'm sorry to bore, but does anyone else feel a distinct lack of confidence in this curious bunch? Especially after this little beaut from the Prime Minister...
"We can't end up having an inquiry into whether the war was right or wrong. That is something that we have got to decide. We are the politicians."

Mind you, others seem to doubt this messianic claim to infallibility. After all, there is already talk of a judicial review, or even of a Commons motion for the impeachment of the Prime Minister. Now I didn't know we could impeach people here, and doubtless it would be impossible to raise a majority to do him in, but it sounds fun, no?

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