Brown’s five Iraq inquiry U-turns explained

The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow has been a busy boy – he’s been trying to keep pace with the Government’s U-turns since Gordon Brown made his statement announcing the Iraq inquiry last week. He reckons there have been a possible nine, and a definite five:

  • Holding the inquiry in public
  • Allowing the inquiry to attribute blame
  • Forcing witnesses to give evidence on oath
  • Publishing an interim report
  • Membership of the inquiry committee
  • Indeed, it’s interesting to compare this list with Nick Clegg’s consistent pressure on the Government over the past few days, and the clarification he’s sought from inquiry chair Sir John Chilcot.

    Economist columnist-blogger Bagehot has today analysed this litany of reverses in an attempt to explain Mr Brown’s reverse Midas touch:

    I prefer to see the whole, shambolic episode as a parable of the dialectical weakness that has undone Mr Brown’s premiership.

    The prime minister made his announcement without proper consultation, either of other political leaders or other interested parties, such as current and former generals. His proposal came in for criticisms—on the openness question, the composition of the panel, the time-frame and so on—that ought to have been glaringly predictable, and would certainly have been made plain by any meaningful canvassing of views. As a result, an initiative that was doubtless expected to be a vote-winner threatened to become a political disaster. The government has responded with an ongoing frenzy of back-tracking and buck-passing, leaving it to Sir John to resolve many of the controversial issues himself. (There is a useful catalogue of the various U-turns here.) What ought to have been a cross-party endeavour instead became, in the votes in the Commons yesterday evening, a futile test of the government’s strength.

    There you have it: an encapsulation of the whole Brown tragicomedy. The motive may (or may not) have been noble. But the execution was a catalogue of shoddy judgments and mistakes, combining lack of consultation with a political tin ear, failings that perfectly illustrate why Mr Brown’s overall position is so vulnerable. That vulnerability in turn explains why he was obliged so swiftly to climb down. He is in large measure the author of his own predicament; and the predicament is in turn emasculating him.

    And Labour’s U-turns aren’t restricted solely to Iraq. Just today, Harriet Harman scrapped the Government’s plans to limit the scope of the committee set up to oversee the reform of Parliament. Ministers had been planning to prevent the Wright Committee from examining any Government business. However, Ms Harman today contacted Lib Dem shadow Leader of the House, David Heath, to inform him that she would be accepting his amendment allowing the committee to look at Government business.

    David Heath commented:

    I am delighted that the Leader of the House is prepared to talk to other parties about the Wright Committee. It is a shame that time after time the Government has to be dragged kicking and screaming to the brink before it is prepared to consult on these matters.

    “The Government always seems to want to decide first and consult later. It makes a nonsense of everything the Prime Minister says about a new approach to Parliament. Perhaps after three [sic – Ed.] U-turns in a matter of days it will finally dawn on Brown that his take it or leave it approach to reform won’t wash anymore.”

    Read more by or more about , , , , or .
    This entry was posted in News and Parliament.
    Advert

    2 Comments

    Post a Comment

    Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

    If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

    To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

    Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

    *
    *
    Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

    Advert



    Recent Comments

    • User AvatarTom Harney 7th Jul - 11:33pm
      As far as attainment by children the highest correlation is with parental income. Poor children have the worst outcomes. The reasons are not hard to...
    • User AvatarJoe Bourke 7th Jul - 11:30pm
      The Church Times has published a call for Universal Basic Income The time for a Universal Basic Income is ripe " Modelling by the RSA...
    • User AvatarGlenn 7th Jul - 10:50pm
      Noncomformistradical That is true of any illness. It suggest better sick pay and better health provision. What it does not suggest is stopping people without...
    • User AvatarNonconformistradical 7th Jul - 10:20pm
      @Glenn "it’s all been a wrongheaded hysterical political fad to combat a virus that is simply not the threat it was made out to be."...
    • User AvatarAlan Jelfs 7th Jul - 9:58pm
      If you want to reduce inequality in education , you need to take the parents out of the picture as much as possible.
    • User AvatarGlenn 7th Jul - 9:38pm
      David Raw I'm not Tim Martin. I just wonder how many job losses, untreated tooth abscesses, crashed businesses, how much social destruction, restrictions on liberty...