Brown takes a different tack on Iraq

March 5, 2010

BrownInquiryTony Blair said he had no regrets about removing Saddam Hussein when he ended his session before the Chilcot inquiry in January. Gordon Brown, not surprisingly, took a different approach.

Perhaps mindful of the anger that Blair’s words had reignited, Brown topped and tailed his appearance by acknowledging the  cost in human lives among British soldiers and Iraqi civilians of the conflict.

Brown was ready to admit to mistakes in reconstruction efforts but portrayed himself as a loyal cabinet member who had left the heavy diplomatic arguments to Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the run-up to March 2003.

On the most contentious issue of funding, Brown said he had never short-changed the military, funding operations in Iraq to the tune of eight billion pounds.

With an election only a couple of months away, Brown will clearly be hoping to avoid any damaging political fall-out.

While Blair focused darkly on the parallels he saw between Iraq in 2003 and Iran in 2010, Brown had a more positive message. Discussing the concept of a “just peace”,  he said lessons learned on post-war rebuilding were being applied in Afghanistan where the coalition is trying to train a local police force and offer local people the prospect of a better economic future.

Brown will doubtless be relieved that his appearance lacked the drama of  Blair’s. Only a handful of protesters gathered outside the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster and Brown came in through the front door — unlike Blair who was driven in under cover of semi-darkness in a cloak and dagger operation.

The ballot for 60  seats in the cramped conference room where Brown was speaking attracted just over 300 applications. For Blair the figure was more than 3,000.

When Brown left, he nodded and smiled towards the public. There was no sound of the angry heckling that marked Blair’s departure.

Iraq — and Afghanistan — are difficult issues for Brown but they are unlikely to define his destiny in the way the ousting of Saddam does for Blair.

2 comments

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It beggars belief that the BBC and associated radio channels report that Brown is whiter than white, democracy! What democracy. This country is run by spin doctors. I would sooner believe Clair Short,Geoff Hoon, 2 COD Staff and the head Civil Service of the MoD Procurement than Gordon Brown. He should be in the Tower for treason. The BBC refer to Margaret Thatcher as ‘Thatcher’ but it is always Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Bias or what? Afraid of a Tory government are we! You should be BBC!

Posted by f172 | Report as abusive

Fine. Then send Brown and his cohort Blair to Baghdad to finish the job and tell them not to come home until the mission is accomplished. After all, any job worth doing is worth doing through to the finish.

Posted by politbureau | Report as abusive