Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Duty of a Loyal Opposition

The primary duty of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is to hold the government of the day responsible for its conduct. So I am absolutely delighted that the Conservatives have tabled an amendment to the SNP-Plaid motion in the Commons this evening calling for an Inquiry into the conduct of the war in Iraq. This is exactly what a responsible Opposition should be doing.

Of course, the government spin machine has swung into action to the extent that if you were a Sun reader you could be forgiven for believing that David Cameron has turned into Lord Haw Haw. BLAIR FURY AT TORY TRAITORS - WAR PROBE VOTE IS BOOST FOR ENEMY screams their headline. It's rubbish of course, just like Andrew Porter's hyped up words which follow.

Surely even Tony Blair can't really think he can bring the troops home without agreeing to some sort of Inquiry into the war. Not even his hubris can stretch that far. Can it?

29 comments:

Johnny Norfolk said...

I is beyond me why the Tories have continued to support the war. They should have clearly and loudly withdrawn their support as soon it was clear that the main reason given by Blair to go to war was a lie.

Anonymous said...

Iain, are you complying with the silence across all media about the role of Rupert Murdoch in the Iraq War, including his dealings with David Kelly? No one should be more alarmed than Rupert Murdoch by the mess created in Iraq. He's backed Bush and Blair all the way.

This time he's backed the wrong cause, it seems, and now he is vulnerable. Blair and Bush will get an electoral kicking in due course, but will Murdoch be able to continue rattling his sabre undaunted? He's run to Gordon Brown for safety play, and he's not backing Cameron. Will Murdoch's domination of British media be the final casualty of Iraq. Let's hope so.

Anonymous said...

Tony Blair? A limit to his hubris? You need to ask the question?!!

Also, does the Sun actually have the influence it thinks it has in the country? I am genuinely asking because in political circles it seems to be the meaning of life to have it 'on message', yet in reality who really cares? The only time I will glance at it is if Newcastle have won (so about twice a year, then) or if somebody leaves it on the seats on the Tube.

My point is, if the politicians/media people didn't keep banging on about how important the The Sun is on the TV, nobody would care in the country.

allan said...

You don't think that Tories are just reaping what the sowed? By using the likes of the Sun in the 1980s to help create that sort of tone in British politics, they can hardly complain when it bites them in the arse.

Thatcheright said...

I'm sure we'll find it can stretch just as far as he's allowed to stretch it - Tony 'hyper-elastic hubris' Blair.

Anonymous said...

Lets be honest Iain the SNP have been the most effective party against the government of Kim Il Blair.

The cash for honours probe and now the Iraq debate just what do the other three or four hundred MP's from the Lib Dems and Tories do all bloody day.

Wonder if George Galloway will speak!!

hannibal said...

Hmmm...I'm still uneasy about conducting inquiries into wars whilst we're actually fighting them, it's a recipe for disaster. Could you imagine Maggie submitting herself to this during the Falklands, or Churchill during WWII?

What is the Tory amendment? I may be persuaded...

Chuck Unsworth said...

Blair's Hubris is totally elastic. It can stretch to infinity. As you note, the well-oiled rebuttal and whipping machinery is now running at peak revs, so it's doubtful that the Government will lose the vote on the motion.

The concept of an enquiry 'after troops are withdrawn' is itself entirely elastic. After all is this 'some', 'most' or 'all' troops? Given that most sensible forecasts for continuance of a British military presence in Iraq are of the order five and more years from now, Blair will be long gone before any formal examination of his mendacity. So why should he care anyway?

Blair's best move - in order to 'start' bringing troops back (and then immediately redeploying them to Afghanistan) - is to declare 'success' in Iraq. But he'll ensure an ongoing military presence there, just to cover his backside with the Yanks. Of course he'll then be able to say that he is putting 'even more' resources into Afghanistan - a bonus.

This is a cop out all round, and the man is a highly dangerous and amoral manipulator. Listen to the debate very carefully indeed...

David Boothroyd said...

Suppose we had an inquiry, and suppose it found this: While the intelligence turned out to be wrong, it was from reasonable sources that had been right in the past and it was therefore reasonable for the government to believe it; although it would have been preferable to have an explicit resolution from the Security Council, it wasn't strictly necessary and the war was legal; UK forces used their best endeavours to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.

Suppose the inquiry found this. Does anyone honestly think that the anti-war campaigners would pack up and go home?

Hannibal said...

I've just got the details from The Times:

"The Conservatives last night tabled their own amendment, proposing a different inquiry involving privy councillors from outside Parliament and begun in the next parliamentary session, similar to the Franks inquiry after the Falklands war."

FAIR ENOUGH SO FAR

"But Tory sources told The Times that, unless the Government agreed to such an inquiry, William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, would announce that the party will vote for the nationalists’ motion to seek a parliamentary inquiry."

LESS DEFENSIBLE, I THINK

"The Conservatives insisted that their proposal was carefully framed to allow the wider inquiry they sought to be set up towards the end of the next parliamentary session, perhaps lasting six months and then reporting by the middle of 2008.

Mr Hague said: “We are not asking for such an inquiry to be established immediately, only that one will be established eventually. A responsible government should want all possible lessons to be learned and should not be afraid of giving these issues the most searching examination.”"

WELL OK, BUT WHY NOT MAKE THE AMENDMENT TO HAVE THE INQUIRY AFTER WITHDRAWAL?

i spy strangers said...

"Not even his hubris can stretch that far. Can it?"

Oh I think we'll find it can, Iain. Our dear PM's hubris seems to be perfectly elastic.

machiavelli said...

The Tories should have no difficulty voting for this motion - when Howard was leader and Ancram the Shadow Foreign Secretary, they supported just such an Inquiry:

“I hope that we get a full inquiry independent of Government” (The Rt Hon Michael Howard QC MP, HC Deb, 28 Jan 2004, Column 304)

“a full independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the lead-up to the Iraq war and its aftermath is absolutely essential” (Michael Ancram MP, The Independent, 31 January 2004)

Anonymous said...

I was listening to PM this morning on Radio Four and heard the two standard excuses for not mentioning the war from the Labour drone:

#1 - it'll demoralise the troops - I would have thought being the arse end of the US Military would make you pretty grumpy

#2 - it'll encourage the insurgents - because at the moment they're not up to much

Anonymous said...

Having read the conservative amendment, just wondering how any decent journalist/editor could have come up with that Sun headline/story?
I don't mind them finding an angle/or being a bit misleading in their story but complete crap!!

Eddie said...

The original motion is proposed by the SNP/PC which requests for an inquiry into the war in Iraq.

The Conservative's amendment (which probably won't be selected) is to ask for that very same inquiry, only delayed until the next session of Parliament (which is only a couple of weeks away). They also include the words "independent committee" which the original motion doesn't (however, the inference that it should be independent is obvious) It's all technicalities, it all makes very little difference.

There will be much disappointment if the Conservatives choose to oppose this motion because they can't get their way over the wording of the motion, despite agreeing with the sentiment.

Blamerbell said...

Why has it taken over three years for the Tories to call for an Inquiry?

And why is such a 'responsible opposition' now taking their cue from a handful of nationalists?

I thought Cameron's job was to *lead* the opposition, not follow it.

(more on this...
http://blamerbellbriefs.blogspot.com)

The Druid said...

We can't really bring the troops home because there is a job of work to be done there, in large part because of our strategic cock up.

That cock up makes an inquiry into the Iraq War all the more important. I cannot weep for Saddem Hussein. His date with the hangman is long overdue.

But the mess that the Iraq war has created is unforgivable. Important questions that need to be addressed include:

1. Why was there such a failure on the part of the intelligence services to a) get the WMD issue so wrong and b) get sat on by politicians and allow their work to be hijacked and used to make a tissue thin case for war?

2. Why was there no planning for the invasion? Operation Overlord was three years in the making. Iraq seems to have been dreamed up in three days.

3. Why was there no planning for the post war administration? Japan and Germany were run for years by Control Councils. We expected crazily Iraq to make the transition from dictatorship to democracy in a year. Lunacy.

4. Why was there no planning and consideration of the operational needs of the British Army in running an occupation in Iraq? Why have they not been resourced properly? (Body armour, proper trucks and so on)

5. Why was there no planning or thought given to the wider impact of the removal of Saddem on the War against Terror, particularly as any fool could see that his removal would create a regional power vacuum into which would be filled by Tehran et al. Iraq has been a pyrrhic victory for the West.

All in all the war looks like Nu Labour fiasco. A spin driven policy of no substance that falls apart at the first application of pressure. This time though the price has been paid in blood.

It is good that Dave Cameron is pressing for this though I suspect his chances are nil. Blair can run while he is in office. But when there is a change of government all of this will be aired very publicly. Then Blair will have what he wants most - a blood stained place in history.

The Remittance Man said...

With the greatest of respect, isn't it the duty of all parliamentarians to hold the executive to account?

Naturally one cannot expect the government's supporters to do this as vigourously or frequently as its opponents, but blind loyalty to the government of the day merely demonstrates that individual MP's are either career hacks or brainless sheep without the ability to think for themselves.

Slim Jim said...

I can foresee a couple of problems here. If the government loses the vote tonight (and it's a big IF), who decides the terms of reference for an enquiry? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the PM? Perhaps he'll invite The Druid to officiate!

What if an enquiry is held and exposes all what we know to be true? Everything was agreed by committee to ensure that no individual responsibility could be allocated (isn't that what Lord Butler found?).

What would be the likely outcome if fingers could be pointed at Blair? Personally, I think Blair should be jailed for war crimes, but would he serve his sentence concurrently with the one he may get for the cash-for-peerages scandal? Whoops, there goes the alarm clock...

Anonymous said...

Lord, Cap'n Paddy. why are you posting as 'the Druid'?

vervet said...

ID: "Surely even Tony Blair can't really think he can bring the troops home without agreeing to some sort of Inquiry into the war. Not even his hubris can stretch that far. Can it?"

Iain - what makes you think there might be any liit to his hubris ? - or, for that matter to his mendacity or messiah complex.

Antipholus Papps said...

The sheer gall of it! How dare that disgusting rag call our elected representatives traitors for standing up to a man who conspired with a foreign government to lie to the people of this country in order to plan and wage aggressive war. Of course they called Britons defending Habeas Corpus traitors too. Hanging's literally too good for them.

Angus McTufty said...

The Tories have already been nobbled, and I suspect, have done a deal.

Liam Fox has already declared that they have tabled an amendment to put any debate forward to The Next Parliament when Bliar will have long gone.

What is wrong with these pusilanimous gravy-trainers? We are supposed to have an opposition. The Conservatives are no such thing.

Marco said...

Opposition is coming from a 'handful' of nationalists because the Conservatives did what they usually do when someone suggests a war and backed it reflexively. There may be the old joke of a Labour Prime Minister not meeting a tax cut he didn't like, but when did a Tory ever oppose going to war?

Anyway, I think Alex Salmond puts his case quite well - more genuine than Cameron on this. But that wouldn't be hard. (He's been youtubed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vAdK7eYLBo if you're interested.)

Richard Thomson said...

Time for the Tories to redeem themselves for their IDS/Ancrum-inspired adherence to the Blair line on Iraq. But if their amendment falls, will they have the guts to back the original SNP/Plaid motion?

It seems ironic that the first of the UK Parliaments to debate Iraq was Holyrood, at a time when that right was being denied to Westminster where the power to change policy actually lay. Why has it been left once more to the SNP to bring this matter for parliamentary scrutiny?

Anonymous said...

Blair's a wrong 'un.I had a worse feeling about him than about any other politician I can remember.Brown might be as awful with his bitterness showing through at the moment but he doen't have any charisma so isn't the danger Blair was.Perhaps some kids could persuade him to be their Guy on the fifth?He may not think the flames can touch him until it's too late?

PJ said...

antipholous papps -

bang on!

David Lindsay said...

Half of Sun readers always did vote Labour, and the paper itself came out for Labour years after most of the other half had made up its mind in that direction, indeed precisely because of their having done so. Worth keeping in mind, I feel.

Anonymous said...

I've just posted the names of the 12 Labour MPs who voted against the SNP/Plaid motion which was almost identical to the Early Day Motion (1088) which these same 12 Labour MPs signed. If they. along with other co-signatories had voted No yesterday (fine chance of their parliamentary voting record matching their public posturing) then Blair would have been defeated (unlikely to have resigned) but a House of Commons Select Committee could have started the process of investigating Suez II aka the Iraq invasion.

TartanHero