So, on Wednesday, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to not hold Tony Blair up to scrutiny for his actions as Prime Minister in leading Britain into the 2003 Iraq War. In effect, Westminster politicians decided among themselves that they would rather not be held accountable in the future for decisions that they make while in office. The bluff and bluster that will accompany their votes should not be permitted to obscure the rather simple fact that MPs acted primarily out of self-interest. Granted, Labour’s current right wing were motivated as much by protecting their ideological talisman as they were in protecting themselves future scrutiny.
I should lay some cards on the table, I did not object to Britain invading Iraq in 2003. It was not that I was swayed by the supposed threat of WMDs, I, in hindsight, naively believed that Saddam Hussein was a despotic figure who was as much of a thorn in the side of his own people as he was in the Middle East and that ousting him from power was a step towards acting against such despotic regimes globally. We, and most specifically, I have learned otherwise. The idea that ‘the West’ can act nobly as the world’s policeman is just one disastrous remnant of our colonial Empire past. Not only is it grave arrogance, it is actually at the root of so much of the strife which embroils the world now.
But I do not feel my decision making over Britain’s entry into the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was influenced by ‘lies’ made by Tony Blair or his “dodgy dossier”. The Chilcot Report was damning in its rebuke of the grounds for invading Iraq in 2003 BUT it was not in the remit of John Chilcot to investigate or judge Tony Blair’s conduct as Prime Minister and whether his office had acted ‘correctly’ in its conduct for the fateful decision to invade Iraq. Yesterday’s vote in Parliament highlighted two things.
Firstly, politicians should NOT be the arbitrators of the scrutiny of politicians. Prime Ministers from Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May should not just face the scrutiny of history, they should face the scrutiny of the British public, whether that be an investigation of Thatcher’s governments complicity in abuses at Orgreave or the current Tory complicity in gross mismanagement of public assets and the abuse suffered by the victims of Tory welfare attacks. Politicians should not be the ones to decide that they should not be placed under a scrutinous eye and it is a gross abuse of their power that they can assume that role of self-arbitration.
Secondly, alongside politicians’ decision to exempt themselves from being subjected to the invasion of privacy that the Investigatory Powers Bill will inflict upon the rest of us, yesterday’s vote demonstrated that politicians do not believe that they should be held accountable in the future for transgresses made while in office and they should not be expected to subjected to scrutiny. What’s alright for the rest of us is not alright for our political class.
When they say that we’re all in it together they mean that WE are all in it together and that THEY are going to subject US to whatever they decide IT to be.