Now if you thought the first half of Gordon Brown’s Iraq inquiry testimony was turgid, just wait for what is to come.
The charge facing Brown is that he slashed the helicopter budget in 2004. It is a toxic political issue that has a direct impact on Afghan operations today. It should be fascinating. But I fear what you’ll get is a deluge of arcane detail about “resource accounting”, something even senior Whitehall officials struggle to understand.
When confronted with this wall of accounting babble, it’s tempting to imagine that the politician must be wrong. But, in this case at least, blaming Brown alone a bit unfair. He has a reasonably strong defence. Read more
Sir Rod made is made a decent go of pressing Gordon Brown on why inspectors were not given more time. His three main points are:
1) The French told us after the infamous Chirac interview that they were not planning to veto a resolution in more circumstances, they just wanted more time. Read more
Gordon Brown’s testimony will be all to familiar to any journalist who has had the privilege to interview him. Rather than open up, Brown has a habit of deciding what he wants to say and repeating it over and over and over again. Nothing diverts him.
In case you’ve missed today’s message, Brown desperately wanted a diplomatic solution to Iraq. Only after the French blocked this at the very last moment did war become necessary. International law needs to be upheld and so the Iraq war was justified. Read more
Gordon Brown has just admitted to a very interesting meeting with Blair, around eight or nine months before the outbreak of war in March 2003.
Brown said that “early on” he met with Tony Blair and assured him that he would “not rule out” any military action on the grounds of cost. “Quite the opposite,” Brown said. Read more
1) What did you do in the war, chancellor?
It is remarkable that since 2003 Gordon Brown has never really given a full account of role in the build up to war. The committee will press him on all this. Did he have reservations? Why did he not act on them more forcefully etc. This is tricky political territory for Brown, so it’s unlikely that this committee will push too hard. But any insights into his role behind the scenes will be interesting. Read more
Gordon Brown has arrived at the Iraq inquiry. Unlike Tony Blair, he’s chosen to come in through the front door, flashing a bit of a smile.
I expect he might have been a little disappointed by the lack of demonstrators. This time they are not only outnumbered by the policeman, they’re struggling to top the numbers of photographers. Nevertheless a few of them are still making an almighty racket with the help of their trusty megaphones. Read more
General Sir Graeme Lamb was once described to me by a senior officer as the “closest thing the British army has to a pirate”. With his latest scathing and brutally frank speech on Britain’s armed forces, he has certainly lived up to his reputation.
In one long blast, he has taken on Gordon Brown, the Treasury, defence officials, and the top ranks of the armed forces over the past decade. The complaints on equipment are timely given Brown’s Iraq inquiry appearance today. But his criticisms of the defence chiefs paint a more complicated picture than ‘Brown is to blame’. Anyway, before turning to exactly what he said, it’s worth reviewing his career.
Fondly known as “Lambo” by the troops, the former head of the SAS had a reputation for desert rollerblading, colourful turns of phrase (in his world Taliban commanders tend to “bleed from the eyes”) and fighting in the shadows. Read more