Blair condemned from beyond the grave


In today's Telegraph: Robin Cook's anti-Blair legacy is set in stone

While I admired Robin Cook's decision to resign on a point of principle (would that more of our government would follow his example), I fear that he went to his grave deluded about the effect that he had: Quote: "The inscription [on his headstone] states: 'I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war'."

Quote: "In his resignation speech in March 2003, he told the House: 'From the start of the present crisis, I have insisted, as Leader of the House, on the right of this place to vote on whether Britain should go to war.' Two days later, after nine hours of debate, the Prime Minister won the backing of MPs to send UK troops to war, despite a backbench rebellion. But Mr Cook later claimed that the decision that Parliament should vote on the war had been an 'historic precedent'.2

Sadly, this is probably not the case. Unlike the USA where (unless it is a war of national survival) the President cannot go to war without Congressional approval, in the UK the Prime Minister can go to war without Parliament's say so. While Robin Cook may have believed he had secured the right for Parliament to decide on it (in this case only), the crafty Bliar had a different reason for putting it to the vote.

Because so much power is vested in the Prime Minister the balance is that if there is a chorus of disapproval, it is expressed at the next election and he and his government are voted out. However, Bliar covered his arrse by putting it to the vote so he could always turn around to Parliament and say "but you all thought it was a good idea at the time."

The fact that the debate was conducted only a few hours after the "dodgy dossier" was released, so soon that most MPs only had time to read the executive summary - a summary that could have been of another document it was so unrepresentative - would be forgotten by the time of the next election. For our own sakes, let's not forget that Parliament, if not lied to, was at least tricked into supporting the invasion of Iraq. Sadly for Robin Cook, his legacy of the Parliamentary vote was the one thing that Bliar could actually use to wriggle off the hook if he is ever brought to book.

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