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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Blair government was dysfunctional says former cabinet secretary

The debate on the Chilcot report has thrown up quite a few revelations but none as unsurprising as the judgement by former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Butler that Tony Blair's Government was dysfunctional.

According to the Guardian, Lord Butler told the House of Lords that the former Labour Government misused intelligence. He claimed the former prime minister was caught in a trap over Iraq:

Lord Butler added: “Plans were not shared with senior ministers for fear that they would leak. The full legal reasoning of the attorney general was not made available to the cabinet. Official papers were not circulated.

“With hindsight, the Blair government’s disregard for the machinery of government looks not like modernisation but like irresponsibility.”

Butler said it had been a mistake to use intelligence assessments as part of a political process. “As countless examples from history show, intelligence is not uniquely worthy of belief, it’s uniquely worthy of scepticism,” he told the Lords.

“However, this should not lead us to the conclusion that intelligence is valueless or stop us investing in it. In today’s world, intelligence is crucial. When we have weapons which can be directed to land on a sixpence, it is all the more important to know which sixpence to direct them towards. We need to learn the lesson that intelligence is a very valuable – indeed, indispensable – aid to political and military judgment, but it is not a determinant.”

Butler said he had considerable sympathy for Blair “in the obloquy which is being poured on him. I have never believed that he lied to the British people, and I accept that he was sincere in believing that military action to remove Saddam Hussein was necessary as a last resort.

“The trouble was that he got caught in a trap in which a decision on whether or not to join the Americans in military action became unavoidable before other means of containing Saddam had been exhausted.”

Some important lessons there for the future, as to why the Presidential style of government we are slipping into does not work.
Could you please confirm that the 'official' reason for going to war was regime change. My recollection was that that wasn't so.

Yes, I agree with you. We were taken to war on the pretext of disposing of WMDs. Regime change was never mentioned.
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