Friday, March 28, 2008

House Points: William Hague and Iraq

My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News.

Turning Tories

There should be a public inquiry, of course. Not an inquiry into the Iraq war, but an inquiry into William Hague.

It could look at the effects of allowing children to take an interest in politics at too early an age and also at the effects of teenage binge drinking -- they can be almost as damaging.

But what it should really look at is Hague’s conduct over Iraq. When war was declared in 2003 he was all Churchillian cadences. Like almost all his fellow Conservatives, he was determined to prove himself even more pro-American than Tony Blair was. (Several knights of the shires ruptured themselves in the attempt.)

As Charles Kennedy has written: "The Tories were derisive of those of us arguing the alternative case; I recall being labelled "Charlie Chamberlain" both inside and outside Parliament."

But on Tuesday Hague led calls for privy councillors to conduct an inquiry into the decision to go to war. How does he face himself in the mirror when he shaves his scalp every morning?

Labour’s reasons for not holding an inquiry were unconvincing. They tried two arguments. The first was to concede that one will be appropriate at some point, but not while "important operations" are going on in Iraq. The second was to claim there have already been four inquiries. The contradiction between them did not trouble David Milliband. Perhaps he had not noticed it?

Besides, it is increasingly hard to see British troops in Basra as engaged in important operations. Any action there now is taken by the Iraqi armed forces and Iraqi police. The British presence is dictated by a political wish to please the Americans rather than military demands.

Earlier, when asked about demonstrations over Tibet, Milliband talked of the need for free passage of the Olympic torch through Britain.

The tradition of a world tour for the torch dates back as far as 2004, while our expectation that there will be a grand opening ceremony for the Olympics comes from the Berlin Games of 1936. There the it was designed by Hitler's architect Albert Speer, who had previously created similar effects for the 1934 Nuremberg rally.

You can see why the Games appeal so much to the dictators in Beijing.

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