his increasingly furrowed brows Gordon Brown
might be forgiven for thinking that his own
rocky premiership will be reassessed as a period
of relative calm between two great disasters.
would be a mistake to believe that Chilcot and
current events are entirely unconnected. The
link is through the Labour Party.
been puzzling as to exactly why the
Parliamentary Labour Party chose this moment to
launch their coup against Jeremy Corbyn and just
what explains the desperation to get him out
last week. It can hardly be because of a
European referendum where Corbyn's campaigning,
although less than energetic, was arguably more
visible than that of say the likely big
political winner Teresa May?
it not have been more sensible and certainly
less damaging simply to put up another candidate
against Corbyn and argue the case to the
country? It certainly would have made for less
of a pantomime and, with both establishment
parties holding simultaneous leadership
elections, it would have minimised the damage.
So what exactly was the urgency in getting the
removal vans to visit the Corbyn's office last
I had a
conversation on exactly this point with veteran
Labour firebrand Dennis Skinner. He answered in
one word “Iraq”. The Skinner line is that the
coup was timed to avoid Corbyn calling for
Blair’s head next Wednesday from the Despatch
Box. Indeed many would say that when Corbyn
stated that he would be prepared to see a former
Labour Prime Minister tried for War Crimes then
he sealed his fate as leader of the
Parliamentary Labour Party.
Remember until last week his Foreign Affairs
spokesperson was Hilary Benn, not only a
supporter of the Iraq War but someone who first
became a Cabinet Minister as part of the delayed
fallout from the resignation of Clare Short in
2003. Indeed Benn had the “reconstruction” of
Iraq as part of his Ministerial brief.
juncture it looks as if the coup has stalled and
Corbyn will survive to fight just one last day
on Wednesday. However, will the Chilcot account
give him the ammunition he needs or will it be
yet another establishment whitewash in the long
litany of British cover ups from Suez onwards?
will not be a verdict, that much is clear.
However, it could still supply the damning
evidence for the jury to bring a conviction in.
In a triumph of hope over experience my
political sense tells me to expect fireworks.
This is not so much from the inscrutable, indeed
invisible, behaviour of ex-Whitehall mandarin
Chilcott but more from the behaviour of Blair.
Call this my contribution to the 'Blair Watch
before the European referendum came to the
crunch Blair was back, complete with yellowish
tan, haunting the TV studios like some unwanted
Remember Blair has already seen the passages
about him in the report. Indeed he has had
months closeted way with his lawyers and spin
doctors to determine his best lines of defence.
In stark contrast the families of the dead will
get but two hours of advance notice.
then would Blair decide to launch his
pre-emptive strike if he wasn’t deeply worried
about the Chilcot contents? What would be the
point? Surely he would just have kept schtum and
waited for absolution on the day.
fact that Blair didn’t plead the fifth tells me
that Chilcot is likely to be damaging and that
Corbyn will have his opportunity to paint the
difference between a Labour Prime Minister who
led the country and the world to disaster and a
Labour leader who has consistently opposed
reckless adventurism in Foreign policy.
might even remind some Labour members why they
voted for Corbyn in the first place to get a
clean break with the past, particularly if he is
opposed by another Iraq War supporter like