Amidst the political heat, our thoughts must be with the families of the 179 UK armed services personnel who have perished in this war. Wednesday was an important and sombre day for them.
The Chilcot Report is a catalogue of Government failure and neglect of duty. It is critical of a Prime Minister who led our country into a tragic conflict that has proved devastating for stability in the Middle East. It is clear that those named as responsible must be held accountable for their mistakes and deceptions; what form that will take and what should be done to ensure it comes to fruition requires careful consideration.
The words ‘I will be with you whatever’ will live in infamy, and we now know conclusively that Tony Blair had in his own mind already decided to go to war, long before Parliament was given the opportunity to vote on the matter.
Tony Blair’s lack of commitment to collective decision-making is a critical failure of government, and resulted in a lack of rigorous analysis and challenged thought.
There was an extraordinary lack of political leadership and strategy shown by Tony Blair and the then Cabinet, which led to utter confusion as to which Departments were responsible for post-war planning. He failed the Iraqi people, failed Armed Services personnel and destabilised the Middle East.
It beggars belief that Tony Blair still maintains that he acted in good faith and even more worrying that he has confirmed that he would do exactly the same again. This is certainly not an act of contrition in any real sense.
This report was never meant to provide a legal verdict, but it does quite clearly and with compelling force identify Tony Blair as having obfuscated, pre-determined in favour of war and failed to plan for the long term consequences. Far from being the final word on the Iraq war, the Chilcot Report is the start of a process.
The report extends to 2.6 million words and only after careful analysis will the full implications become clear. My colleagues and I will be going through the report in detail over the coming weeks and months and it will be important to see how the Government and others react during this week’s special debate days. Ultimately our actions will be informed by our constituents and communities and in particular those families of service men and women who lost their lives.
I have received a letter from the Minister of State for the Armed Forces informing me that MOD Welfare Staff are working closely with the families of the 179 service men and women who lost their lives in the conflict. Anyone who needs my assistance getting in touch with the MOD Welfare team should contact my office.
You can watch SNP Westminster Leader Angus Robertson MP’s exchange with the Prime Mininster in the video below: