So we now have the news that the Chilcot Inquiry won’t produce its long-awaited report until after May’s General Election. Quelle suprise. I view this whole situation as a cynical and shaming reflection on our democratic works.
It’s easy to despise the Third World where legalities and morality is non-existent and the concept of justice a fantasy; the West constantly congratulating itself for maintaining order and being a place where things are properly done. But it is now more than five-and-a-half years since Gordon Brown as prime minister finally capitulated and announced the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.
His suggestion that it might take up to 14 months was scornfully lambasted by the then leader of the Opposition, David Cameron. And yet in following on, deadline after deadline has been broken. In May 2014, the same man stated that after a series of unexplained delays, the same report would be published by the end of last year.
On completion, Sir John Chilcot and his four colleagues took evidence from more than 120 witnesses and in February 2011, Chilcot declared it would take ‘some months’ to arrive at their findings. Nearly four years later – and almost 12 years after the end of the Iraq War – there is nothing to show.
It gets better (or worse, depending on your viewpoint). In Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron’s only observation on this continuing delay was that it was ‘extremely frustrating’. His counterpart, Ed Miliband’s most effective response was that he, too, would like to see the report published ‘as soon as possible’.
This scenario reeks of indifference, complacency and a complete disregard for the fact that this event is one which requires the most vital levels of openness, transparency and attention to the simple truth. This has not happened. And what’s equally as bad? It doesn’t surprise me at all.
In writing this, a line from a song kept on bouncing around in my head, and in describing this whole debacle, no truer words could have been said:
“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss” – Bruce Springsteen.