Blair/Brown evidence: does it hang together? Will they?
Yesterday’s Independent on Sunday lead-piece was about the best in the Sundays. Using carefully researched passages from Alistair Campbell’s latest memoirs, it suggested that Blair had lied to the Chilcot Enquiry about presenting “a balanced view” to Cabinet about the legality of the Iraq War…as indeed did Lord Goldsmith in his evidence.
Last night, a number of MPs were calling for the special reconvention of Chilcot in order to iron out, with the key players, the contradictions between memoirs and evidence. The former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: “According to the [Campbell] diaries, Tony Blair was determined that the decision should not rest with the Cabinet, and overruled his Attorney General. Sofa government prevailed at the expense of constitutional requirements. The diaries prove that once a decision to go to war against Iraq had been taken, intelligence and legal advice was manipulated to support that decision.”
This may or may not have involved sexing up dossiers and murdering whistle-blowers, but as Campbell seems definitely to have been involved in the former at least, he too ought to face further questioning.
For The Slog, however, the key point of interest here is the light this may or may not shine into the dark cupboard wherein lie the skeletons who know what evidence of Blair’s criminality Gordon Brown perhaps used to blackmail him out of the Premiership in 2006.
Two and a half years ago, I posted extensively on this subject. At the time, the two ‘favourites’ for blackmail material were corrupt foreign systems contracts and the death of David Kelly. Perhaps the most relevant of those articles is this one in which a timeline for the successful blackmailing of the Prime Minister is rigorously examined.
As the Indie’s Matt Chorley correctly asserts in his follow-up piece today, ‘the disclosure is significant because, while it has long been suspected that Mr Blair and his inner circle put pressure on Lord Goldsmith to change his legal advice, this is the first evidence that the PM actively blocked the Cabinet from hearing the full details of the case for war…’
Whether this reality alone would’ve been enough to bomb Blair out of Number Ten remains a matter of conjecture. But if the keeping of anti-war evidence from both Cabinet and country also involved complicity in the murder of Dr David Kelly – and Brown had damning evidence about that – then one can understand why a “visibly shaken” Blair wouldd have acquiesced to Brown’s obsessive demands six years ago.