Saturday, July 31, 2010

Prescott: files on Iraq's WMD made me nervous.

It's astonishing how so many Labour party members, who were utterly silent as Blair led us into the war in Iraq, now want us to know that they really didn't agree with it. John Prescott is the latest person to perform this pathetic dance in front of Chilcot, but it's the reasons he gives for his behaviour that I find mesmerising.

Intelligence reports that were the evidence that sent British troops into war in Iraq consisted of "a bit of tittle- tattle here and a bit more information there", the former deputy prime minister John Prescott said yesterday.

The flimsiness of those reports made him "a little bit nervous", but did not shake his support for the war, he told the Iraq war inquiry. His role, as he saw it, was to support Tony Blair and keep the Cabinet united.

His role was to support Tony Blair and "keep the cabinet united". Even as the nation prepared to go to war on a false premise.

Even as his government were preparing to do something which would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and bring years of misery to the Iraqi people. All that mattered was supporting Blair and holding the cabinet together.
Lord Prescott told Sir John Chilcot and his panel that he saw the reports, and they made him "nervous". He said: "I just thought: 'Well, this is the intelligence document; this is what you have. It seems robust, but not enough to justify it.' Certainly what they do in intelligence is a bit of tittle-tattle here and a bit more information there."
The outrage of the families who have lost loved ones is perfectly understandable.

Mike Aston, whose 30-year-old son Corporal Russell Aston was one of six military policemen killed during a riot in Basra in June 2003, said: "His [Lord Prescott's] remarks are absolutely disgraceful. There are 179 families who have lost their loved ones in this war. It has cost me a son. I have to keep that at the back of my mind to stop it boiling over."

Rose Gentle, whose 19-year-old son Gordon was one of the first British casualties, said: "I'm disgusted. This is my boy's life they are talking about. The smug look on that man's face made it seem as if it was just a joke to him."

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: "It just goes to undermine further any sense that the Government's stated reasons for going into Iraq were accurate.

"We have always suspected that there were other reasons. The sense that we were in there to protect British interests or security is further undermined by what Lord Prescott said."

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn said: "If John really believes that, why was he so silent at a time of such a momentous decision that has led to a war that has cost the lives of half a million people?"

What I find most striking about Prescott's comments are the utter lack of shame. That's because he sees no shame in what he saying. He really thinks that his job was to protect Blair - even as he stood on the precipice of an utterly illegal war - and to "hold the cabinet together".

That mattered more to him than what he was "holding the cabinet together" to do.

And he now admits that Blair was being duplicitous when he laid the blame for the war at the door of the French.

He also contradicted the claim made in Parliament at the time, by Mr Blair and the former foreign secretary Jack Straw that the UK had not applied for a second UN resolution authorising the invasion because the French had announced in advance that they would veto it.

Lord Prescott said they had been wrong to blame "the poor old French".

The fact that Blair ludicrously attempted to blame France for the war is yet another indication of the mindset which, at that time, gripped his government. The truth mattered little, what mattered most was what Blair could sell to the public.

Prescott is yet another Labour politician who could have spoken out at the time and made a vital difference. He chose not to. And he has told us his reasons for not doing so.

And he's not ashamed and he's not even embarrassed. He saw his role as protecting Blair and holding the cabinet together. Even as they prepared to wage a war outside of the UN Charter.

People have gone to jail for less.

Click here for full article.

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