06 March 2010

Sir John Chilcot would like to say a few words

Spring is just around the corner, the days are lengthening and overnight the tree of political naivety had an early growth spurt.

Two former chiefs of the defence staff, who always wanted more money, have taken issue with Gordon Brown’s evidence to Chilcot & Co:

Lord Guthrie added: "He cannot get away with saying 'I gave them everything they asked for'. That is simply disingenuous."

Lord Boyce, who was chief of the Defence Staff up to the beginning of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, said: "He's dissembling, he's being disingenuous. It's just not the case that the Ministry of Defence was given everything it needed".

However, they fail to suggest how the Ministry of Defence can improve its little ways when it goes shopping for the odd bit of kit and always overspends the budget.

They should leave the game of politics to us grown-ups.

Yesterday, Sir John Chilcot opened the hearing by saying that he was "acutely conscious" that the hearing is taking place in the run up to an election. He went on to say that the inquiry wanted to "remain outside party politics" and they have asked the political parties to respect that.

Let us attempt to put Sir John’s civil service speak into a bit of plain English, so these former generals, and one or two others, finally get the point of what yesterday was all about:

Neither the inquiry team or the Prime Minister wanted to be here today.  Frankly, I have got better things to do in the run up to the election than play party politics.  I was personally embarrassed that Gordon Brown, who is extremely busy, had to take the unprecedented step of cancelling his appearance at PMQs so he could prepare for this session.

Let me be plain.  The only reason this session is taking place is because of the misjudgement shown by David Cameron and Nick Clegg, both of whom had nothing to do with the Iraq conflict and should mind their own business.

Having said that, we realise that today will be a highly politicised occasion, even though we will do our best to ask the Prime Minister some probing questions.  In truth, we cannot be bothered.

Finally, before we start, I would like to apologise in advance to the press who are expecting to fill the weekend newspapers with juicy revelations.  That will not happen, in fact you will find that today will be more boring than usual.

Chilcot & Co. will drop their bombshell when the final report is published, not nine weeks (or less) from the election date.

Former chiefs of the defence staff and youthful politicians should allow Chilcot to get on with his job in the way he wants to do it.

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