27 January 2010

Forget Chilcot, we need a book

Lawyers are an arrogant bunch.  Put a group of them in a room when you are attempting to work through a complex contract and you haven't got a hope in hell of getting anything agreed.  The only certainty is that a huge invoice will arrive, beautifully presented on the finest stationary demanding payment after a short period, so their bonuses can be paid.

Yesterday, we did have a treat.  One after-the-other they trooped in to see the five non-lawyers who make up the Iraq Inquiry, and politely informed Chilcot & Co that the country should be run by the legal profession.  Even Philippe Sands had to admit on Newsnight that “nothing new” was revealed.  Michael Wood had apparently said it all before to Hutton.

Well, there was something new.  The shock horror revelation that Lord Goldsmith had changed his mind.  Since when was that such a crime?

The anti-war brigade had a field day.  Paul Waugh sent out a tweet; MURDER and then followed this up on his blog.  Wonderful stuff.  Perhaps the best comment came from Martin Kettle:

Without evidence from witnesses such as Tory MPs, Bush officials, Chirac and Blix, our view of Iraq will remain partial.

As the day unfolded, one little saying summed up the  proceedings:

Officials advise and ministers decide.

We are rushing to judgement before all the evidence has been heard.  Following this, Chilcot will produce yet another report that will satisfy no one.  We have all made up our minds.

We need a definitive book covering not just the war itself, but what happened before and after.  Only then will we get closure on this episode.

The days have gone when a few of us were able to watch 18 Doughty StreetPeter Hennessy gave an interview to the channel when he hinted that he would write a book on Iraq.  He is the only person qualified to do so.  John Rentoul should write the forward and Iain Dale can publish.  That would be an explosive mix.

Meanwhile, Chilcot continues along its merry way.  But, in truth, we are no wiser or better informed than we were before it started.

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