Has Peter Oborne got it right on the Iraq inquiry?
There’s an excellent piece by Peter Oborne in the Mail today about how Brown’s Iraq inquiry strategy is falling apart.
Describing the original plan as “masterful” Oborne” writes:“.. On the one hand he gained the credit for ordering Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry into the invasion, thus honouring one of the promises he made during his Labour leadership campaign in 2007. On the other hand he had cleverly arranged that he himself wouldn’t appear as a witness until after polling day. But then Brown made a spectacular error.
Under adroit questioning in the Commons from the LibDem leader Nick Clegg, he said he would be happy to give testimony to the inquiry at any time. Sir John Chilcot had said he would not call Brown ahead of the election in order to avoid the hearings becoming caught up in party politics. But now, to his credit, he has called Brown’s bluff.
It is hard to state too strongly what a calamity this development is for the Prime Minister. He will now be forced to reveal his true role at a public hearing within the next few weeks – just at a time when he is preparing to face voters at his first General Election as Labour leader.
At the very best, this appearance before the inquiry will come as a massive distraction and something that his team of advisers is already viewing with dismay. At worst, Gordon Brown’s evidence will bring the very divisive issue back into the public arena and could inflict grave damage on Labour’s election hopes….”
Just looking back at the clip I don’t think that Brown appreciated the elephant trap he was just about to fall into. He was too eager to put Clegg down rather than thinking through the implications of what he was saying. He ought to have stuck with backing the Chilcott line on his appearance should be put back rather than leaving it open as he did.