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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lib Dems call for publication of the Chilcott report

The Times reports that another 'rift' has opened within the coalition over the government’s decision not to publish the Iraq inquiry’s report during the election campaign.

They say that Tim Farron, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, has accused the Conservatives of being keen to delay the report because they “failed miserably” by supporting the US-led invasion:

Ministers have said that should Sir John Chilcot deliver his one million-word report after the end of February, they would delay its publication until after the election. Mr Farron has now written to Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, demanding that it is published within a week of being received.

Reviving the issue of Iraq during the election campaign could help to boost the Lib Dems’ poll ratings, which remain perilously low. The party received huge support for its opposition to the 2003 invasion.

“It was not only the government of the day that failed miserably as we went into war in Iraq,” Mr Farron told The Times. “The official opposition also failed miserably by trooping through the lobbies to sanction this war. One assumes our coalition colleagues may be a little less keen than we are for this [report] to come out.

“Any additional delay in the publication of this report will be deemed as the establishment sitting on something that might damage it.”

Naming Jack Straw, the former foreign secretary who is stepping down as an MP, he said that waiting until after the election would allow some of those involved in the decision to avoid scrutiny.

“The Iraq war is history, but it is not yet ancient history,” he said. “It is important that the lessons learnt from it are learnt whilst there are people involved in our parliament who are in a position to answer for their actions.”

I note that the Prime Minister told the Commons this week that the publication of the report is out of his hands. That may well be the case, but he can make the decision to publish immediately it is available rather than wait until after the General Election and that is what he should do.
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