Iraq inquiry: Minds were made up a decade ago. Chilcot won’t change them

But the delay in publication will feed into the public’s gradual disillusionment with party politics

Come May, most voters will go to the polls and vote for a political party based on factors entirely unrelated to the Iraq War of 2003. This was true when it looked like the Chilcot report into the war would be published before the election and it remains true now we know that it won’t.

Any harm the inquiry might eventually do to the Labour Party will also surely be mitigated by the fact that Ed Miliband’s pitch to the country is based at least in part on his unwillingness to follow the United States into further military action. There will be no more ‘rush to war’, as the Labour declared on the back of his party’s vote against military action in Syria in 2013. And besides, most of those involved in the prosecution of the Iraq War no longer even occupy prominent positions in British politics.

Therefore the idea, as Isabel Hardmen writes in the Spectator, that “voters are now cheated of the information they need to make their minds up in the election” says more about Westminster’s obsession with Iraq than it does about the mood of the British electorate. Outside of an introspective commentariat the country has moved on, and for all the halcyon talk by anti-war activists of a movement which ‘shook’ Blair it’s worth remembering that the former PM was re-elected just two years after the US-led debacle with a whopping Commons majority of 66.

If voters didn’t view Iraq as a significant issue in 2005 it’s unlikely they will in 2015.

And yet what the delay in publication of the Chilcot report will do is feed into is the public’s gradual disillusionment with party politics. We already live in a time when outlandish conspiracy theories are entering the mainstream and when a crankish party of little Englanders can win a European election. Nigel Farage’s appeal is based in part on his ability to point at the political establishment with a Cheshire cat grin and proclaim himself a cut apart. Anti-politics is now the surest entrance into mainstream politics and those who prosecuted the Iraq War with their fantastic claims about WMDs and ‘45-minutes’ must take a portion of the blame.

The Chilcot Report should be published as soon as possible if only to assuage this trend.

The mistake would be to assume that the report will significantly alter opinions about the rights or wrongs of the Iraq War. Minds were sealed and rendered impervious to fresh arguments a decade ago, as was demonstrated this morning when Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesman Tim Farron confidently proclaimed that Tony Blair took Britain into “an illegal war in Iraq”.

Why even bother with an inquiry if you’re already so sure?

The best arguments against the Iraq War were never lawyerly ones anyway. Iraq was a serial violator of numerous United Nations resolutions and was perhaps best described by the late Christopher Hitchens as “a prison camp above ground and a mass grave beneath it”. A good reason to oppose the invasion was the fact that the pro-war camp had bought so thoroughly into the delusion that democracy could be dropped from the hatch of a B52 Bomber. A bad reason to oppose it was its supposed ‘illegality’ based on the votes of Russian, French and Chinese delegations to the UN Security Council – governments which at the time were bloating and sating themselves on lucrative oil contracts with the government of Saddam Hussein.

For all his bluster about an ‘illegal war’, I’m fairly sure Tim Farron doesn’t want British foreign policy to be dictated by the economic interests of the Kremlin.

One certainly hopes that the Chilcot inquiry, when it does finally surface, will shed some light on the behind-the-scenes decisions which resulted in us going to war back in 2003. But regardless of what the report eventually contains, you can be certain of one thing: it will be either ‘vindication’ or a ‘whitewash’ according to taste, with very little in between.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twittter

34 Responses to “Iraq inquiry: Minds were made up a decade ago. Chilcot won’t change them”

  1. AlanGiles

    “Don’t blame me” for the delay in the issue of this report says Blair, but does anybody believe a word this charlatan says – especially over Iraq and his servant/master relationship with George Bush?

  2. Matthew Blott

    I wasn’t in favour of the Iraq War but that’s where me, Stop the War and the rest of the “Bliar” brigade part company. The same people that tell me the “MSM” isn’t to be believed are the same people that tell me they were lied to about WMD. The threat was certainly spun (that’s what governments do) but nobody was “lied” to. The spurious 45 minute claim was as absurd then as it appears now – a claim with no evidence. I didn’t believe it and nobody else has any excuse for not treating this baseless claim with the same disdain that I did (unless they wish to admit they are pretty thick).

    I’ve never liked enquiries – they’re expensive and nobody ever agrees with the conclusions. But this one seems particular unnecessary. What are we going to learn that we didn’t know already? Blair, probably full of hubris due to previous military successes, decided come what may he’d do whatever Bush decided. I didn’t vote for Blair in 2005 but I don’t feel the need to de-evolve whenever his name is mentioned. It’s time everyone else grew up.

  3. AlanGiles

    You are suggesting you are the only one grown up, Matthew. The people who really need to grow up are those Blair worshippers who still try to pretend he was right – one of them, Jim Murphy recently became leader of the branch office in Scotland. Blair painted himself into a corner on Sept 11th 2001 when making his speech just after the disgusting promises told Bush in as many words that he would do whatever Bush wanted – the “shoulder to shoulder” stuff.

    Blair’s problem is he still tries to justify his actions and will never admit to any mistakes.

  4. robertcp

    I agree with most of this article but James is not entirely right about 2005. Labour lost many votes in that election, including mine, and its share of vote was only 35%. Can you imagine what would have happened if the Conservatives had opposed the invasion?

  5. Matthew Blott

    Blair left office nearly 10 years ago. He isn’t relevant.

  6. ForeignRedTory

    There is a YAWN to it all, and it is entirely true that minds were made up in 2005.

    ‘A good reason to oppose the invasion was the fact that the pro-war camp had bought so thoroughly into the delusion that democracy could be dropped from the hatch of a B52 Bomber.’

    My reason to
    oppose was that it might actually WORK, and that giving a bunch of raving lunatics self-determination – as opposed to letting things be run by a dictator too troubled at home to look for more trouble abroad –
    was entirely undesirable.

    The ‘debate’ is all rhetorics.

    ‘The people who really need to grow up are those Blair worshippers who still try to pretend he was right’

    Why should we give a toss about what they think to the point of changing their minds? Blair is no longer PM, and what he thinks just isn’t all that relevant these days.

  7. Gary Scott

    I think party advisors and pundits genuinely underestimate the level of contempt in which the public holds parliament. Scandal after scandal involving fraud, corruption and paedophilia mean that they are seen as being more likely to be involved in criminal behaviour than the average man in the street. The Chilcott Inquiry is just one more example on top of many others. Its seen as yet another whitewash after the previous whitewashes. In the worst recession seen, none of the parties have any fresh ideas, all previous actions have been watered down and we keep seeing more examples of how banks rigged markets. In the eyes of the public the parties are lying, corrupt criminals who have lost their legitimacy to govern. The Greens, UKIP and SNP have done more for the voting public than the rest combined. In times such as these strong and radical policies are needed.

  8. Phil Hove

    Take it from me as an ex-full career soldier Mr Bloodworth, you are wrong about people forgetting about the heinous actions of Blair, who went against the biggest demonstration on the streets of this nation EVER in our history. This turnout alone should have told this Prime Minister not to falsely manufacture justification to take the Nation to war, based on lies, since his decision was already made.

    A lot of my colleagues are dead, disabled and affected for life. Millions of others are also displaced, incapacitated, radicalised, dead and suffering daily hell still from these heinous actions. He has humiliated the military.

    If Blair had used his influence honorably he could have substantially negated the US actions considerably, which could have possibly led to much less of the disaster we are all now facing.

    This is something to add to the other failures of his Government, which the country has also not forget:

    ECCELSTON and the likes (honours for cash etc)

    ROTHERHAM + most other LABOUR COUNCILS Muslim Peados problems.

    NHS Wales
    STAFFORD
    MORECOMBE etc etc

    PIE
    DEFICIT – LARGEST PEACETIME EVER
    TOWER HAMLETS
    JIHADI’s ISIS – Resulting ISIS BEHEADINGS

    AFGHANNIGHTMARE
    FGM
    CAMPBELL SPIN – KELLY DEAD
    IMMIGRATION MILLIONS

    EU 55 MILLION PER DAY
    EDUKASION – UK WENT FROM BEING IN WORLD
    TOP 10 TO LATE 20S

    PUBLIC SECTOR RAMMED with cronies
    RECORD – TEENAGE Mums’ – SOCIALLY HOUSED
    BBC BIAS – IRRETRIEVABLY RAMMED LABOUR
    CRONIES

    HALAL – EXTREME ANIMAL CRUELTY IMPOSITION
    ENGLAND DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT POST DEVOLUTION
    TROJAN HORSES
    HUMAN RIGHTS ACT

    BENEFITS STREETLIFESTYLE CHOICE

    CHILCOT
    QUANGOS & CHARITIES STUFFED CRONIES
    PFI GENERATIONAL EXTORTION

    MULTI CULTI FAIL
    NEETS – HIGHEST EVER
    SHARIA COURTS

    MEMORY LAPSING LEFTY RENTAGOBS
    INEQUALITY HIGHEST EVER
    FOREIGN AID CORRUPTION
    BEQUEATHED COALITION LONGEST RECESSION

    LOWEST GROWTH FOR GENERATION
    GPs 100k pa – COMBINE CANCEL OUT HOURS = A&E OVERLOAD

    BANKING REGS – WORLD FINANCE CENTRE FAIL
    CHEAP GOLD – 400 TONS OF IT!
    MANUFACTURING LARGEST EVER DECLINE

    HOUSE BUILDING LOWEST SINCE 20S
    ZERO POWER STATIONS BUILT
    MILLENNIUM DOME
    COOP BANK FAIL

    FUEL DUTY ESCALATOR
    ISLAMFICATION OF THE NATION
    CRONY MPs DYNASTY – BLAIR – STRAW- DROMEY – BENN – HARMAN

    LISBON TREATY WITHOUT REFERENDUM
    POSTAL VOTING FRAUD
    50% ATTENDING UNI –ONLY 20% GRAD JOBS AVAIL

    CLIMATE CHANGE ZEAL
    MUSLIM PATROLS
    MADRASES
    PENSIONS RAIDED
    CLASS WAR – THORNBERRY SNOB

  9. Guest

    Mr. Argentine Officer. your military service gives you no rights here.

    And yes, some of your comrades suffers for invading the Falklands. But that has nothing to do with your support for dictators. Like, oh, the Argentine Junta at the time of the Falklands.

    Get going on about how you spew hate at allowing multiple political parties, and all Muslims. How you hate the NHS, and want it gone. How the debt is far too low for you.,how we haven’t bombed parts of London as you talk about your ISIS friends. Oh, and how you’d ban Pie.

    As you decry how FGM is illegal, as you buy into conspiracy theories, and try and block trade and the 99% crossing borders. Whining about made-up figures, as you try and trash education in the UK and whine about civil servants not being all hard right. As you attack quangos like the courts service (no trials for the peons, eh?) and the meat hygene service – how dare they expose cheap horsemeat contamination in peon’s food!

    How dare mothers get shelter (not social housing), as you ignore statistics on teenage pregnancy, as you make up nonsense in your hate of the BBC as an asset for the UK (we can’t have those, after all), and you praise your cronies. Then you declare that you support animal cruelty, often-failing stunning, to have a go at Muslims and Jews. You attack democracy, because you hate it. You whine there’s not enough corruption in foreign aid…talk about how you’re a trojan horse for views foreign to the UK and demand the HRA goes so you can torture people and the like.

    Then you scream hate at the poor, mouthing anti-British propaganda about our illegally poor benefits, demand Chilcot be suppressed, attack Charities for daring to help the poor rather than paying you and whine you’re not getting enough PFI and how dare the government say they’ll renegotiate some of them. Then you call yourself a Lefty Rentagob, and blame your memory for your confusion. Randomly, in the middle of your rant, as you cry that the highest inequality is too low for you (again), and whine we’re out of your beloved recession (for now).

    Then you demand 99%+ of the UK be told to conform to your “culture” (or lack thereof), just like your beloved monocult North Korea. As you whine NEETS are too low, and show your ignorance of the UK’s arbitration laws, as you cry that Sharia is too good for the peons. Then you go on again about how growth is still too high for you, and how evil it is A&E exists.

    Then you admit you’re for smashing the city out of spite, revel in how you got cheap gold and are rich, and whine we have too much manufacturing, and too many new houses. How you won’t allow new power stations, rant about the blancmange randomly and note a non-cooperative (it’s not, deal with it) bank’s failure.

    Then you call for the fuel price escalator to resume, whine about Muslims in Argentina, and once more attack democracy, demanding only far right MP’s be allowed to stand. Then you attack British democracy AGAIN, how dare we be allowed it, as you talk about your postal voting fraud – stop doing it – and whine that too many graduate jobs are avaliable, as you bring up a never-met goal from years ago, while University attendance falls and leaves us with a major skills gap.

    Then you argue science, such as AGCC, shouldn’t be allowed, as you call for patrolling for Muslims (and no doubt shooting them), miss the actual problems in your xenophobic calls for murders and call for more raids on pensions and note now Thornberry is far too little of a snob for you.

    Thanks, Argentine Officer.
    You can go home now, to Argentina. Stop leeching off Britain.

  10. Leon Wolfeson

    Far more likely the Government are delaying it. Remember, the Tories voted for the war.

  11. Guest

    Psst…you’re confusing the BBC and Government there.

    And no, further “radical” attacks on the 99% like those of the Neoliberals and their Austerity are not the answer. Good, old-fashioned Labour moderate leftist ones are. But you don’t accept democracy, the legitimacy of general elections.

    When the problem is FPTP and not general elections.

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    I don’t like the lies which were used to justify the war.
    But at the same time, I’m happy a dictator was overthrown.

    The US then screwed up the peace process, sigh.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    Except his shift of Labour to the right hasn’t been reversed. So…

  14. AlanGiles

    He SHOULDN’T be relevant, Matthew, except that so many of his sycophants still have positions of influence within the PLP, and the man himself is still strutting round the world acting the “statesman” and even ludicrously a “peace envoy”. He should retire gracefully from the world stage, go and live in one of his many houses and take up gardening, and cultivate his pansies and rhubarb

  15. Phil Hove

    LOONEY ALERT – OMG this man is for some unknown reason stating I was/am Argentine Officer, (insulting and outlandishly offending my 25 years British Army Service), plus making up a load of other incomprehensible drive totally non factual and in some ways opposite to what I was actually saying. One cannot have any sensible discourse with such a Looney.

  16. swat

    True my mind was made up years ago. In that famous Commons Debate Tony put a convincing case about 45 minutes and the Super Gun and we all believed him! Little knowing that the evidence was flawed. And later we learnt the truth no super gun no 45 min strike! It was then that I realised that Blair had to go. And yet for domestic political reasons and that he detested Brown, the man kept hanging on! Thats when Labour lost it, not in 2008, but in 2005. Shame because we were doing pretty well up until then. And the Iraq legacy lives on to haunt us. We lost 2010 not because of the Economic Crash, but because of Iraq, and we’ll lose 2015, not because of the improving economic situation and because of the absolute walking disaster that is Ed the Unready but because of Iraq and ISIS and Al Quida. Pity, Labour has a good story to tell, but we’ll have to wait another 5 years to tell it.

  17. uglyfatbloke

    What will it matter anyway? It’s not as if any political figure is ever really held responsible for their actions. Generally the worst that happens is that they get sent to the lords and pick up £300 per day just for checking in.

  18. Jacko

    Do you suffer from Aspergers?

  19. madasafish

    “We already live in a time when outlandish conspiracy theories are entering the mainstream and when a crankish party of little Englanders can win a European election. Nigel Farage’s appeal is based in part on his ability to point at the political establishment with a Cheshire cat grin and proclaim himself a cut apart. “

    Hmm

    I suggest that sneeringly condescending reply epitomises the attitudes that created support for UKIP – and the Greens- in the first place.

  20. madasafish

    Look at the time when it was written. c 1.am.
    Perhaps alcohol or drug induced. Or hallucinating.or half asleep.

  21. ForeignRedTory

    So you would have preferred Britain to have had Tory Governance between Major and Cameron as well? The British people, as whole, are hardly more lefty than the people of Germany, Holland or Denmark, so there is no point in a Labour Party to the left of Helmut Schmidt and Wim Kok.

  22. Leon Wolfeson

    No, I want a party of the left to vote for.

    Germany, Holland and Denmark have left-wing parties. Britain does not, hence my pushing for changing the voting system.

    Schmidt? Kok? Ha.

  23. Guest

    Ah yes, people must be drug and alcohol abusers like you. Right.

  24. Guest

    Keep warning people about yourself, Argentine Officer.

    You accuse me of posting your post, and demand that anyone who does not hate Britain like you be a “loony”.

    I simply pointed out what you called for. Your attempts to whitewash them now are sad.

  25. Leon Wolfeson

    So you make excuses for people choosing their views. No, they’re adults and chose which party to support, not the peons you view them as.

    The “sneeringly condescending” part is your view of people’s decision making capacities.

  26. madasafish

    I don’t post gibberish at 1am.

    Blame yourself.

  27. ForeignRedTory

    Well, if you are more at home with Die Linke, then the slight snag is that that would mean Game, Set and Match to the Tories.
    It’s all very nice to vote for a Party, but if it does not get into Government, then it is not effective.
    As for changng the voting system to be like the German model, I’m for it.

  28. Leon Wolfeson

    I’m not seeing significant differences in economic outcomes between the two main parties.

  29. Keith M

    Publish and be damned.

  30. Guest

    No, you post gibberish all the time.

  31. Anthony Miller

    The object of the Inquiry is to discover the objective truth about all aspects of the war from planning to funding to the causes. Iain Duncan Smith then leader of the opposition clearly believed the 45 minute claim as his speech to the house at the time shows. If it was then a lie it was a very black lie indeed. Parliament was mislead

  32. madasafish

    “If voters didn’t view Iraq as a significant issue in 2005 it’s unlikely they will in 2015”

    Except we now know a lot more and can see how much Blair knew – and lied about..

  33. madasafish

    ” The Greens, UKIP and SNP have done more for the voting public than the rest combined. In times such as these strong and radical policies are needed.”

    Hmm seriously deluded stuff.

    What have they done? 2 SNP MPs already in deep trouble,1 UKIP MP and a leader who resigns and unresigns in 3 days and the Greens with unlimited immigration, unlimited house building and a money tree in the garden.

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