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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Straw puts Iraq back onto the agenda

The decision by Justice Secretary, Jack Straw to veto the publication of minutes of key Cabinet meetings held in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 seems almost certain to make the war an issue again.

The BBC report that Straw is to use a clause in the Freedom of Information Act to block the release of details of meetings in which the war's legality was discussed:

Releasing the papers would do "serious damage" to Cabinet government, he said, and outweighed public interest needs.

The Information Tribunal ruled last month that they should be published.

They had rejected a government appeal against the Information Commissioner's ruling that the papers be published because decisions taken in the run-up to 2003 invasion of Iraq were "momentous" and controversial.

There is a balance to be struck between openness and maintaining aspects of our structure of democratic government

The government could have appealed against the Information Tribunal's decision in the High Court, but has decided instead to use the ministerial veto for the first time since the Freedom of Information laws came into force.

Mr Straw told MPs he had not taken the decision - which had to be approved by Cabinet - to block the minutes "lightly".

But he said it was "necessary" in the interest of protecting the confidentiality of ministerial discussions which underpinned Cabinet government and collective responsibility.

"There is a balance to be struck between openness and maintaining aspects of our structure of democratic government," he said.

"The damage that disclosure of the minutes in this instance would do far outweighs any corresponding public interest in their disclosure."

Not surprisingly, the Justice Secetary has won the support of the Conservatives for his decision. They joined with the Government to vote in favour of this illegal war.

When Jack Straw says that publication will cause damage he is right but it is the Labour Party and the Government who will suffer the most. No wonder he overruled publication. David Howarth is quite right when he says that the decision is "more to do with preventing embarrassment than protecting the system of government".

He believes that it is in the public's interest to know that the Cabinet, as a decision-making body, had "collapsed" in the run-up to war and been supplanted by a handful of key individuals around the then prime minister Tony Blair.

Now the Labour Party are trying to brush the whole affair under the carpet.
This is a disgrace. Once again the Labour government are guilty of hiding the truth from the people who put them in power. We have a right to know why we went to war, which is arguably the most important decision any government can make. A very bad day for democracy and honesty in politics.
One can respect confidentialy on actions that are being discussed in the event of forthcoming operational defence duties. This decision by Jack Straw to hide and conceal very important cabinet discussions on the decision to invade Iraq does not fall into the category of a 30 year period of silence.The public have a right to know why this dodgy decision was made particularly when weapons inspectors found that weapons of mass distruction did not exist. The west was not in danger of a mass attack. Blair/Brown knew this and likewise George Bush. Many innocent civillian lives,and British troops,were lost because of this criminal decision to invade Iraq. justification for a public inquiry into this affair is paramount and the vast majority of the british public demand the truth,not a cover up.
I have some sympathy with the decision. It is important that the record of cabinet discussions should be confidential for a reasonable period. Otherwise, ministers will be constrained from expressing their views and more real decisions will be taken in the prime ministerial boudoir, or the record will be uselessly bland.

What is insupportable is the suppression of evidence to ministers. For instance, we still have not seen all the opinions which Lord Goldsmith provided, on the legality of the Iraq invasion.
asks for Tories help 42 days, also now Royal Mail, and the war in Iraq well you know the others, I suspect Welfare reforms have also been a group decision between Labour the Tories and the Lib Dem's although I will admit most have said no but not all.

It is a worry that parties act like this because in the end to get anything down in this country perhaps we have to vote for a Party that will give Labour a warning the BNP. well we are told they are mainly socialist in this group of ass holes.
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