Friday, 22 January 2010

A Secret Plan My Lord?

Baldrick: You had a cunning plan my Lord?

Lord Straw: Yes Baldrick, one so mind numbingly cunning and secret that I didn't mention it on 18th March 2003 when we debated the issue, nor mentioned to cabinet. But at some future point in my defence will produce it in an 8,000 word memorandum.

Baldrick: But what about Cook?

Lord Straw: What's Mrs Miggins got to do with this?

Baldrick: Not Mrs Miggins, my Lord, but Robert Finlayson Cook.

Lord Straw: Ah well the red, beard, Robin, went bob, bob, bobbin' along.

So Jack Straw had a secret plan to keep us out of the war on Iraq, or at least it was secret until yesterday.

Of course his predecessor as Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had a far more open plan to keep us out of the Iraq War. He announced his resignation as Leader of the Commons the evening before the vote on sending troops and then voting against the Government. Straw of course trooped through the Government lobbies. Like Cook Straw claims to have had disagreements with Tony Blair.

So what was the secret plan? Well apparently it was to offer support to the US-led invasion but not to send troops. Of course reading Robin Cook's memoires you know that he made his feelings known in Cabinet, there was no mention of Straw doing the same. Indeed in response to just that question yesterday he responded:

"Was there a cabinet or a cabinet committee at which my alternative to the prime minister was discussed? The answer to that is no."

So therefore his cabinet colleagues did not know that there was an alternative, (forgive my scepticism) if there was one, from the Foreign Secretary, even though his predecessor was expressing concerns.

However, compare such aspirations with what he said in the chamber on the evening of the 18 March, 2003;

"My hon. Friend has many arguments against military action, and I respect her for them. ..... I know that if we fail to take action in the face of an obvious evil and an unresolved problem, the costs not only to the international community but, over time, to this country and the rest of the world will be calculable and high."

So there appeared to be no concerns about regime change being an issue, there was an 'obvious evil and unresolved problem'. Was that alluding to the First Gulf War when regime change wasn't carried out?

How staunchly was he for sending troops into Iraq, well also in that debate he said:

"Like my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and many others, I have worked for months for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. However, I am as certain as I can that the Government's course of action is right."

And later

"The fact is this: Saddam will not disarm peacefully. We can take 12 more days, 12 more weeks, or 12 more years, but he will not disarm. We have no need to stare into the crystal ball for this. We know it from the book—from his record. So we are faced with a choice. Either we leave Saddam where he is, armed and emboldened, an even bigger threat to his country, his region and international peace and security, or we disarm him by force."

and to conclude

"Our forces will almost certainly be involved in military action. Some may be killed; so, too, will innocent Iraqi civilians, but far fewer Iraqis in the future will be maimed, tortured or killed by the Saddam regime. The Iraqi people will begin to enjoy the freedom and prosperity that should be theirs. The world will become a safer place, and, above all, the essential authority of the United Nations will have been upheld. I urge the House to vote with the Government tonight."

I clearly am missing something here as for the Iraqi people to 'begin to enjoy the freedom and prosperity that should be theirs' surely suggests the regime change that yesterday he said he had arguments with the Prime Minister about. That was the tenant of his closing remarks as he dispatched the Government's troops into the Aye lobby.

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