Thursday, 30 July 2009

Scope of Inquiry

Sir John Chilcot's press conference ongoing.

From what he has said so far, and at first glance, it looks thorough enough to make certain parties nervous.

- It may be televised
- Blair (and others) will be called
- Military and legal advisers will be named later
- The committee will not shy away from making criticisms

The line of questioning of the media may well set the agenda for commentary: if so, the focus is very much on the decision to go to war, the role of Blair and the cabinet, political decision-making ("absolutely central" to the inquiry), the legal advice.

This will make a very uncomfortable time for the government - unless there is a willingness to try and draw a line under the Iraq War, to enable the Labour party to make a clean break from the past, without any further accusations of whitewash.

The conclusions may also be drawn up for a Conservative government and a Conservative dominated parliament, with a very different Labour party in opposition. The inquiry may well just be the start of the difficulties of Blair and others....

This all assumes that Chilcot's promises of openness are not a temporary ruse and that most of the inquiry does not go on behind closed doors and avoids the critical questions....but I don't think the media and public will stand for that. Every closed door will generate a headline, now that the expectation is of openness.