» Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Iraq Debate

Asked what was new in the Prime Minister’s opening remarks to the debate on Iraq in the House of Commons this afternoon, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said we had never claimed that people would hear any new argument because the Prime Minister had been consistent in his view as to why the war in Iraq had been right. The only new thing today was his response to the Butler Report in terms of his announcement relating to the formal establishment of an ad hoc Cabinet Committee to deal with any future situation, in addition to the announcement of the new JIC chairman on an interim basis and then a permanent appointment to be made in 2005 under the criteria set down by Lord Butler. Asked if the Prime Minister had been signalling the end of “Government-by-sofa”, the PMOS said that he had simply been referring to a formalisation of the process which was already taking place.

Asked if he would agree that the Prime Minister had appeared nervous at the start of the debate, the PMOS said no. The Prime Minister had always considered this to be a genuine debate, which meant that he wanted to take as many interventions as possible during his opening statement.

Asked why the Prime Minister had not been informed privately, if it had been deemed inappropriate to make it known publicly, that a particular piece of intelligence relating to Iraqi chemical and biological weapons capability had been withdrawn, the PMOS said that as he had told journalists last week, the process of validation had still been ongoing at the time. Moreover, the piece of intelligence in question had only formed one part of the picture on Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons. Asked if any intelligence officer had told the Prime Minister at any stage that the intelligence was flawed, the PMOS said he was not aware of anyone having told him such a thing.

Asked if the Government was intending to issue any further response to the Butler Report after today, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had opened today’s debate and the Foreign Secretary would close it. That, as far as we were concerned, would be it in terms of a formal response.


[Video of the Prime Minister taking part in the Iraq debate will be available on the No10 website tomorrow]

Briefing took place at 15:30 | Search for related news


  1. These lobby briefings: they are incredibly tedious, aren’t they? Must have been a lot more fun when Alastair C was around – are transcripts of his briefings available at the No.10 site? And is everything that PMOS (or is that POTUS?*) says included in the briefings? I.e. does ever give ‘off the record’ briefings to the assembled hacks which aren’t recorded?

    *for similarly minded politico-nerds, I only found out by accident that a new series of TWW started on E4 last night.

    Comment by Andrew — 21 Jul 2004 on 4:05 am | Link
  2. After watching yesterdays Iraq debate, it is clear (as it always was) that Tony B.Liar has a lot of questions to answer – and he still seems to be refusing to answer them. How is this democracy? Also the ISC want to re-open their enquiry – apart from Donald Anderson who says 4 inquiries have cleared the government. How is this so, when for each of the inquiries the terms of remit were anything BUT investigating the political decisions taken by Bliar? It seems protecting the leader is more important than the truth, and the truth is (as we all know) that Tony (I won’t say "the government" because they had nothing to do with it) had decided long ago to go to war with Bush, but he didn’t want it to be too obvious so he wouldn’t let anyone make a post-war plan, and he knew his case was too weak so he had to lie about the intelligence. End of story. If he had just come out and said "we want to get rid of Saddam, he’s a mad dog" then I’m sure a lot of people would respect him more even if they didn’t agree; but no, he has woven a tissue of lies and he can’t back down because then we’d all know the depths of his untrustworthiness. Disgusting. And I can see him getting re-elected too. Doubly disgusting.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 21 Jul 2004 on 4:04 pm | Link
  3. You should all read what I have said in Butler report (comment).ESPECIALLY the people above.THEN You should APOLOGISE to the PRIME MINISTER.I am sure he will forgive you he is "I think" that kind of person.Unlike you I sign what I print.Signed,george dutton.

    Comment by george dutton — 24 Jul 2004 on 4:17 pm | Link
  4. George, see my own posting in reply to yours. I will apologise to The Liar when he apologises to the country and to the world for invading another country in the name of democracy on the basis of lies and personal gain. I wouldn’t want his forgiveness if it was needed to save my own life; if I could meet the "man" face to face I would tell him the same. Indeed, it is he and Brush who should be begging forgiveness. I’m sure the families of dead servicepeople would echo that sentiment too, as well as the thousands of Iraqis who have lost relatives. Oh, and well signed – you did that very well, although I’m really not sure what bearing it has – your name could really be Mickey Mouse for all anyone knows. Signed, A Realist.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 24 Jul 2004 on 9:14 pm | Link
  5. When the Prime Minister learns the definition of the word apology, I’m sure people will line up to provide him with one; however, at this point in time, he clearly has no understanding of the meaning of the word – hence any apologies given to him are nothing but wasted breath.

    People who want respect must first learn to respect others. That sentiment towards Blair has been and continues to be echoed throughout the party – his lack of consultation with the Labor party members on so many issues over the last seven years, the ‘presidential’ (there’s nothing ‘presidential’ about it, IMO, but hey) method of his governance, the informal and off-the-cuff use of the cabinet, etc…

    Blair wants to be P.T. Barnum; his faithful the suckers, apparently, born every minute. He runs this almost mystical circus as ringleader – and as the crowds, over time, fail to turn out, is the only one in the position to take the blame for the demise of that circus.

    There’s no point in apologising to the Cult of Personality that the Labor party lives under; the Labor party knows it, has known it all along, and actively chooses it time and time again. Sooner or later, the circus-goers will grow up, the circus will lose its magic, and someone else will step in with something different to entertain the crowds. Right now, Labor is doing a poor job of making themselves that someone else, but at least they can see that the circus no longer holds the sway over the people it once did.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 26 Jul 2004 on 10:54 am | Link
  6. I’m going to repeat myself from my other posting of today – yuk I hear you say 🙂

    I spent a fair amount of time – in a previous life – learning how to detect liars, how to rapidly assess personality and how to test the validity of my assumptions. We also used other ‘tried and tested’ methods to check our ‘rapid assessment’ techniques.

    from what I see both TB and GWB know that they are lying and are covering up as best they can- but they need more training in covering the signs.

    From where I sit I’m eagerly awaiting the moment when "truth will out".

    Comment by Roger Huffadine — 26 Jul 2004 on 11:07 am | Link
  7. I’d just like to add to what Roger has said; although I have no doubt that he is (or was, in a previous life!) an expert in his own right, I think it boils down to something far simpler (no disrespect intended here).

    A basic understanding of human nature and simple logic should be enough for anyone (everyone?) to arrive at the same conclusions. The childishly transparent evasion of certain things is surely enough – namely, the refusal to allow investigation into the use made by the Government of the available intelligence and why all the caveats and qualifications were removed from it.

    In most courts of law, the refusal to answer certain questions would instantly trigger alarm bells and further investigation would follow. In this case, this has not happened, mainly because the man in the dock "outranks" the courts and forces them to admit that it is right and proper that no further investigation should follow. This obviously suffices to clear the conscience of a man who seems to have lost touch with reality (or rather who refuses to admit he is fallible); no-one has proved me wrong, ergo I must be right (where have I heard that argument before!?!) Obviously, however, it doesn’t satisfy the country in the same way, but then the country doesn’t matter; Tony is still confident that the lack of credible opposition will still win him the day, regardless of how the country perceives him personally.

    The biggest shame is that our outdated political system does not allow us to vote directly for the PM – if it did, I’m sure Labour could confidently expect to win the next election with another man at the helm. Who is immaterial. Personally I care little for politics and would happily go along with whichever government was in power, as long as they didn’t blatantly lie to the country to take us to war. As I’ve said before, the suspicion of dishonesty at the highest levels of government (Right Honourable, indeed!) over a matter which on the surface seemed cut and dried leads to suspicion and mistrust over every other issue and the motives and real truths behind them.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 26 Jul 2004 on 4:57 pm | Link
  8. That raises an interesting point: At some point, if things continue the way they are now, it may well be that Labour itself becomes the largest proponent for a directly elected PM.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 2 Aug 2004 on 2:24 pm | Link

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