This morning’s Chilcott appearance by Clare Short was every bit as rumbustious as you might expect. She blamed the military – rather than DFiD for the disastrous post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq. She accused Blair of “conning” her. And she claimed that Lord Goldsmith “misled” colleagues over the legality of the war.
Some of her descriptions of former comrades were a treat.
On Lord Boyce, former chief of the defence staff:
“He spent a lot of his life in submarines and it showed…he wasn’t a chatty sort of chap”.
On Lord Goldsmith, former attorney-general:
“He was put into House of Lords by Blair, put in Government by Blair, he was a commercial lawyer, excluded and then let in if he said the right thing.”
On Gordon Brown:
“Brown was pushed out and marginalised at the time and having cups of coffee with me and saying ‘Tony Blair is obsessed with his legacy and he thinks he can have a quick war and then a reshuffle etc’.”
On her own importance:
“I was still hoping to reunite the international community.”
As Paul Waugh points out, Short wasn’t the most popular of ministers:
As one former cabinet colleague recalls:
“We did indeed all hush Clare at Cabinet because she drove us all mad with her droning on. A particular highlight was the day she gave us a protracted lesson on the exact length of the pipes needed to rebuild Basra. As ever, when it comes to Iraq, she is the hero of her own story.”