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"...has this ruling not the potential to damage the likelihood of serious Cabinet government being restored?"

Definitely. They should not be released.

There are so many questions to be raised about the Iraq war that will have to be looked at sometime, such has been the suffering both here and in Iraq, together with the damage to Britain's standing in the world.

I agree with you, Jonathan, that the inquiry should not begin before our troops return but with luck that could be within the next six months, so it could be announced soon - or, as is more likely, won't be announced. The conservatives should then make it a manisfesto promise to hold one.

We must not lose sight of the fact the government that took us into this war is still in office and the outcome of such an inquiry might encourage a lot more people to ensure that it is soundly beaten at the next election.

For my part I'm absolutely delighted. I simply do not buy the argument that a report like this will be detrimental to British troops while they were in Iraq. The only people who seem to not want to investigate what I and many others regard as the our biggest foreign policy failure since Suez are those who unashamedly still seem to support this venture. Why? If they think it so great what harm will an enquiry do?


The government wilfully misled the British public to start one of the most controversial wars ever fought. It has dodged, lied and obfuscated the truth ever since and avoided scrutiny like the plague. The advice the Attorney General gave is still murky and unclear. Advice on a war which led to the death of thousands.

We live in a democracy. Those we elect make decisions on our behalf. If they make catastrophically bad decisions which lead to war, a war which might not even have been strictly legal, they should be held accountable for that. The reasoning that led to those decisions made clear. We can then learn the lessons and hold them accountable.

There is a unique public interest in the publication of these documents, which the information commissioner has duly taken into account. To suggest we should wait 30 years is ridiculous.

Of course they should be released.

Their should be no reason to hide information such as this from the public.
And any politician having meetings on official business that doesn't have the minutes taken is asking for trouble, wether they have something to hide or are innocent.

Publish the notes and let a seperate body investigate wether it was an illegal war or not.
We need open politics for the people to have faith in any goverment again, and we need to have heads role when people abuse their position, not, as is the case of the current goverment for people to be made to apologise like a naughty school child.

Resposibility for ones actions is what is needed, as well as people leading by example.

Beware of the law of unintended consequences. Those who think they'll find a smoking gun may well have it blow up in their hands. The Minutes record the official information and conclusions, not the sofa conversations. You may well find the official information from SIS, backed up by the Germans, the French and the Russians (the DGSE insight into Iraq was particularly good and the Germans had a couple of excellent agents), clearly indicated WMD and a nuclear programme.
You may also find that when the British went into Baghdad, read the documentation and interrogated senior Iraqis they learned the difference was: no WMD but all the plans, the resource requirements and the sourcing of foreign equipment ready for implementation the moment sanctions were lifted (including re-starting a nuclear programme). So the defence would be: it was all an honest mistake.....
The paradox is that the DGSE were producing what looked like excellent info on the WMD threat, whilst the Elysee Palace were going full out to prevent a war and get sanctions lifted (and bribing Turkish MPs to stop US forces crossing Turkey) so as to protect the oil contracts TOTAL had signed with Saddam.

Never understood the stance of Con Home on this.

IDS made a terrible mistake - possibly the greatest abdication of an opposition holding the government to account since second world war.

BUT that doesn't mean subsequent Tory leaderships should be saddled with the same grave error. We can move on and expose the far greater deceit and incompetence of the Blair government in this shameful episode in British history.

"...has this ruling not the potential to damage the likelihood of serious Cabinet government being restored?"

Possibly, but only if we have further pooor governments. It is not a reason to delay an inquiry or to withhold the information, nor should there be any delay or withholding on account of the presence of British troops in Iraq now that they are due to leave.

I think it would be dangerous and probably irresponsible to have a [u]public[/u] inquiry whilst we still have troops in Iraq. However, I have nothing against a private inquiry now to help our armed services, or a public inquiry later.

I think its a absolutely fantastic idea that we should commit to. We can ring our hands and point fingers at leading Labour politicians who deceived the nation and who produced the "dodgy" dossier.In addition we can distance ourselves from a bad war brought about by immoral people. Of course we should also look closely into a number of actions of the proceeding government with an eye to tightening the law.

The minutes should be published. But there is a legitimate argument about cabinet confidentiality that has to be weighed against the momentous and in this case contentious decision to wage war. Instead of reading the minutes over 20 years from now I think the government should announce that they will be realised 10 years after the decision in 2013. That will probably and conveniently coincide with a Labour party in opposition but will be released at a time when the consequences of the decision are still relevant.

1. Be careful what you wish for. You may get it.

Why do I know that, as the date for a General Election (and lunatic expectations of a hypothetical landslide) come closer, so the Tory enthusiasm for revelations of this kind will lessen?

2. This is merely bringing forward the famous and traditional "battle of the filing cabinets".

Please remind me if ever an incoming administration has won it.

3. The argument about UK forces in Iraq is, now, effectively historic in any case. As for Afghanistan ...

4. Why, on a Tory site, are contributors backing a LibDim thrust? "Cui bono"?

OOPS,Jonathan Isaby seems to have just published a bunch of get out of jail free cards for the Government.Could this be because the Conservatives have a bunch of stuff to hide as well?

You are 100pc right Jonathan. If the minutes of Cabinet are released so soon afterwards then big issues won't be discussed in Cabinet but on the sofa where nothing is minuted at all.

All cabinet minutes should be taped and published after every meeting. That will put an end to spin and we'll finally know what our political "masters" are up to and what they really think of us. After all, if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear. Only on issues of national security should the information be witheld.

Cabinet discussions should be published (as soon as possible after the event).

The public are not stupid infants - they will not be flabaghasted that people can ask the unthinkable - personally I would be shocked if they didn't.

Ok, I may not be shocked, as I suspect that the main revealation from cabinet minutes would be that the PM says how things are and the Cabinet just nod...

It's quite simple - Blair and Labour lied to Parliament and the nation about why they followed Bush into war. There was a case to be made for regime change on account of him becoming a threat again. But there were no WMDs, no weapons ready to launch against our forces in Cyprus, etc.

Would the Tories have still backed the war even if they'd know the truth? Maybe. But the point was they were still deceived, so there should be no fear about having this all out in the open.

My view is that if publication of minutes like this can alone push a PM to not have formal Cabinet meetings, then that person was not really serious about it in the first place. In this case public interest has to be paramount. We can't go to war based on lies. I would say that this finding may help restore some honesty to government because eventually you have to write things down - it's the only way Cabinet members have of ensuring their views aren't misrepresented.

"Cabinet discussions should be published (as soon as possible after the event).
The public are not stupid infants - they will not be flabaghasted that people can ask the unthinkable - personally I would be shocked if they didn't."

Publish cabinet discussions straight after the event and you'll find nothing of interest is ever said in them - just as nothing of important is ever let slip at Question Time or on Marr. They'll just say what they want to be reported in next week's papers.


No action should be taken with out an audit trail showing how and why the decisions were made (many public organisations do this all the time).

I expect our government to consider every option - if they haven't then we need to know what they haven't looked at and why.

If there is no audit trail for a decision then it should be fair to assume that the government is deceiving the public and should be removed.

Following the Expenses/FoI climbdown, it is very dissapointing to see Jack Straw attacking the publics protection under the Data Protection Act.

'They' want more and more control over personal informaiton that belongs to us, while wanting to reduce the control we have over government information that *also* belongs to us.

"All cabinet minutes should be taped and published after every meeting. That will put an end to spin and we'll finally know what our political "masters" are up to and what they really think of us."

This makes no sense. We will know nothing of what our political "masters" are up to - they will simply refrain from discussing issues at cabinet, and will merely speak to each other as ministers and loyal backbenchers speak to each other on the floor of the House. They will hold their real discussions on the telephone or in private offices.

"Only on issues of national security should the information be witheld."

Is the Iraq War not a national security issue? (or at the least, could its discussions not have included a very large amount of security related information?)

"...there should be no fear about having this all out in the open."

The Conservative Party's interests are almost certainly best served by demanding publication. It is very doubtful, however, if the country's best interests would be served by the precedent set.

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