It’s an odd relationship we have with our leading politicians. We admire and loathe them in equal measure. For me, one such is Jack Straw. I admire his political survival skills and his trickiness, but it’s that same slippery trickiness that I loathe. Odd isn’t it.
And so it is with him and the Iraq Inquiry. His performance under questioning by Sir John Chilcot and others had me admiring his ability to absolve himself of blame or responsibility, but also deploring his obfuscation. Odd again, I know.
The purpose of the Iraq Inquiry, it seems to me, is not to uncover anything new, but to deliver a slap in the face to the Labour high and mighty who took us to war in Iraq. The slaps being delivered with surgical skill by brainy civil servant-types. Oh, the joy they are having at delivering these slaps. None more so than two ex-senior law officers at the Foreign Office yesterday. Notably the exchange with Ms Elizabeth Wilmshurst, where the Inquiry members questioned her about why Jack Straw had rejected the legal advice:
THE CHAIRMAN: Did it make a difference that Jack Straw himself is a qualified lawyer?
MS ELIZABETH WILMSHURST: He is not an international lawyer.
Delicious. Now, for a forensic look at Jack Straw’s role in going to war with Iraq, Paul Waugh’s comment is unbeatable.