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Monday 18 January 2010

Iraq Watch

Over the past few weeks I’ve been watching as the Iraq Enquiry goes through the motions. Even the much trailed appearance last week of Big Al didn’t cause me to devote any serious time to it – until I had a prod from a regular visitor to Zelo Street, which was followed by a debate about Campbell’s influence, Blair’s behaviour, the intelligence (or lack of it) and a raft of other odds and sods.

What set the debate going was an article in the Daily Mail last week by Stephen Glover, which satisfies the usual rules as laid down by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre: Blair and Campbell are hate figures to the Mail’s editor, so the maximum bile is dumped on them, along with Jack Straw, who Dacre also dislikes. These, Glover asserts, are the “three men on a sofa” who dreamt up the UK’s Iraq strategy.

So far, so accusing, but what becomes clear after the application of a moment’s thought is that one man is missing from the cabal: who was ever-present next door, the brains behind the economic rationale of New Labour, the man with his hands on the purse strings? Step forward Pa Broon. But here a problem enters: Dacre and Brown are good friends. How to proceed? Well, as the Meerkat puts it, simples: Glover pens his hatchet job, but that airbrush (it’s a busy little brush right now) gets to work and Brown disappears from the sofa.

Meanwhile, over at the Guardian, Richard Norton Taylor has put together his own reaction to the Iraq Enquiry’s progress: he refrains from sinking to Glover’s abusive approach and lets the participants speak for themselves. I particularly liked the reaction of former cabinet secretary Lord Turnbull to Big Al’s rubbishing of Clare Short as “very poor”.

Norton Taylor points out that the Enquiry has highlighted five key strands, and he gives a paragraph of analysis to each. It’s worth a look, and I’m sure that the questioning will be suitably forensic. Even so, I still doubt that anyone will come out of the process too badly: nobody should worry about a single ticket to the Netherlands.

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