Monday, 1 March 2004

About time too

Clive Summerfield @ Monday, March 01, 2004
Looks like the Conservatives have come to their collective senses, and decided to pull out of the Butler whitewash. Taken them a while, but they finally seemed to have cottoned on to what the rest of us realised weeks ago; that the Butler Inquiry will achieve nothing with regards to revealing the truth.

Meanwhile the Government is doggedly hanging in there, still refusing to reveal the Attorney General's legal advice. In many ways Tony Blair now reminds me of HAL9000 from Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Faced with trying to maintain a high-level deception, the poor thing became psychotic, much like HAL9000. However I do think it unlikely that Tony will resort to murder to maintain the lie, at least not directly.

This may give an insight into how the legal position was identified. After Foreign Office experts decided that war would be illegal, the US suggested that Tony find himself some new lawyers. So Lord Goldsmith wanders over to Professor Christopher Greenwood of the LSE, the most hawkish lawyer he could find, and based his advice to the Government on Greenwood's opinion.

John Major, himself no fun-loving fan of human rights, waded in on Breakfast with Frost yesterday, pointing out the obvious that country will remain divided as long as Lord Goldsmith's double side of A4 remains for the eyes of the Cabinet only. And although Tony Blair keeps falling back on the defence that the Attorney General's advice is covered by constitutional convention, there are exceptions to the rules defined in the parliamentary rule book, with disclosure occurring as recently as 1971. Besides which, Blair can't have it both ways. On previous occasions (most recently with the leaking of Dr Kelly's name to the press) he has shown himself to be no stickler for constitutional niceties. Either Butler's remit must be extended, or the inquiry scrapped and a new one set up in its place, with broader terms and members appointed by all parties. Until this happens, there can and will be no progress on other areas, not in health, education, welfare, transport, etc, etc. Instead this government will remain hog-tied and ineffectual, while the cancer of doubt gnaws at its heart.

And Tony has the temerity to be disappointed with Clare Short. Maybe he should take a look around him at just how disappointed we are with his performance.

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