My previous attempts to explain that Andrew Mackinlay is the greatest man in Parliament have been met with some scepticism by my readers.
But nobody can deny that this week he was absolutely magnificent against Jack Straw’s continued efforts to hide behind a wall of lies over the invasion of Iraq:
Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab): Has the Justice Secretary looked behind him to see that there are only two office holders?”a Parliamentary Private Secretary and the Church Commissioner?”who support him? Not a single one of his hon. Friends is here endorsing him today. Could it be that they are ashamed and embarrassed by this announcement? Will he not reflect on the fact, which really is breathtaking, that he, who clearly was one of the people who piloted this policy and persuaded us?”I remember him, as it is photographed on my mind, promising that we would get the second UN resolution?”should also decide that those documents should not be available? It is appalling.
It is also a bad day for Parliament when we get synthetic anger from the Opposition, who are cosying up?”the Privy Council club closing down debate and discussion on things that must be revealed.
I bear the scars of having trusted the Prime Minister on this matter and I shall take to the grave the fact that I regret having listened to the porky pies and the stories of the Intelligence and Security Committee and of the Prime Minister. I shall regret it to the day I die. I should never, ever have trusted them.
Mr. Straw rose?”
Andrew Mackinlay: And I never will again!
The closing of ranks by New Labour and the Conservatives to frustrate the Information Tribunal’s decision to release the Cabinet discussion that led us to war, simply illustrates the astonishing democratic deficit in the UK which enabled bellicose politicians to launch an illegal war in the first place.
I was deeply frustrated last night watching Question Time, where there was again a general closing of ranks by Labour, Tories and the Political editor of the Sun, offset only by a nice but inarticulate Lib-Dem non-entity. Everyone sagely agreed that it was necessary for participants to be assured of secrecy, or they would not be able to give their best advice.
Nobody countered this argument, which has been rolled out by almost the entire mainstream media. But it is nonsense. Is advice which of which somebody might be ashamed and which cannot stand up to public scrutiny always the best advice? Does the best government really thrive only in the darkest of corners, operating by subterfuge? I worked in government for over twenty years, including in some pretty senior positions working with intelligence and military affairs. I never gave any advice that I would not have been prepared to defend robustly and openly.
Indeed advice which you would not be prepared to defend robustly seems axiomatically more likely to be flawed.
The obsession of the British establishment with the view that the best government is hidden government must be challenged. What it does of course is to permit government for motives and interests they don’t want the rest of us to know about.