OPINION: Why the PM might back an Iraq inquiry

Tony Blair always claimed that there was no reason to hold an inquiry into the Iraq war. Gordon Brown, according to The Independent, seems to disagree.

Charlie Whelan
Charlie Whelan

Any public inquiry is often just a PR exercise and there is no reason to believe one into Iraq would be much different. The key, of course, is who actually does the inquiring and what they are specifically asked to inquire about.

Given that we have already witnessed the Hutton inquiry, which was widely seen as the greatest whitewash in history, the Government will be anxious to avoid a repeat of that particular embarrassment. On the other hand, a full-blown public inquiry may prove just as embarrassing to those government members, including the Prime Minister, who went along with Blair's war.

It is fairly certain that it was indeed Blair who was the driving force behind the war and the 'dodgy dossier' that will encourage the Government to go ahead with the inquiry.

I will never forget sitting in Blair's office discussing the pros and cons of holding an inquiry into the 'mad cow' crisis. Blair decided to go ahead, admittedly with my full encouragement, knowing full well that the crisis was the responsibility of the previous Tory government. He was more than happy for them to get the blame. Now the tables are turned.

But why is the Prime Minister so keen to 'let it be known' that he is now keen on an inquiry?

In a week when the Tories have been making much of the running following the Budget and their spring conference, Labour obviously wants to get back into the media with positive headlines. But it is probably more than that.

The new Number 10 team is keen for Brown to define more clearly where he stands and it needs to get Iraq out of the way. The announcement of an inquiry when the troops have come home is part of that process.

Iraq isn't a subject the Tories are happy with either but they have had other things on their mind. Top of the list has been the polls, where up until last weekend they were only a few points ahead of Labour.

It can only be this that made David Cameron take the most extraordinary decision since he became Tory leader. He decided drastic measures were necessary and, surely against PR advice, let the ITN cameras into his home to film his family.

Never again will he be able to protect his family from media intrusion, something Blair did, particularly on one occasion in an unreported case involving his daughter.

Two decisions by the two leaders - one smart, the other stupid.

Email: charlie.whelan@haymarket.com  

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