Did Straw make a last-ditch effort to stop Blair?

Did Straw make a last-ditch effort to stop Blair?


Is this going to keep Iraq in the news?

The main story in the Guardian is about a private letter that the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, wrote to the Tony Blair just before the invasion of Iraq suggesting, amongst other things, that Britain should offer the Americans “political and moral support” in their campaign against Saddam Hussein, but not military backing.

According to the paper Straw “reportedly urged Blair to tell George Bush that British troops would help clear up the mess and keep the peace once the war was over, but could play no part in Saddam’s overthrow.”

That apparently there was such a split right at the heart of government even at that stage could be dynamite and might put more focus on other cabinet members at the time including the then chancellor, Mr. Brown. He, though, will not be facing the Iraq inquiry until after the election.

Even so it’s hard to see the “What did Gordon know and do” issue being avoided during the campaign. The inquiry could set a lot of hares running and simply saying that Brown’s appearance won’t be until after the election is not going to satisfy the likely media clamour. In fact it could have the reverse effect.

What a gift to the Lib Dems whose opposition to the war helped them gain seats and secure a 22.7% vote share in 2005. It seems crazy from Labour’s standpoint that this should be taking place during the general election run-up.

The Straw letter, though, might just help Straw fend off a strong Lib Dem challenge in his Blackburn seat.

  • As a follow-up to yesterday’s discussion on the election timing there’s a good blog piece here from Tory MEP and PPC, Chris Heaton-Harris. He notes that the much touted March 25th date has been scheduled for the first meeting of the European Council under it’s new permanent president and that Labour councillors are strongly opposed to May 6th.
  • Mike Smithson

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