Why the Hutton Inquiry is a smokescreen
Michael Heseltine (former Deputy Prime Minister), writing in today’s Guardian:
“In Iraq the military victory was swift, which in itself raised questions about the reality of the threat. But at least the sceptics could be silenced. Where the inspectors had failed it would now be possible to succeed. But that needed evidence and there was none. The government was faced with a growing demand to follow the precedent that, as an opposition, it had so loudly demanded. Not an inch did it give.
I vividly remember listening to the news of David Kelly’s death. I also remember the coincidental announcement of a judicial inquiry and my reaction to it. The squeamish will not like what I now say but the squeamish do not last long in politics or understand the ruthless survival instinct of politicians under pressure. Dr Kelly’s death gave a new urgency to the demand for an inquiry but it also provided a lifeline. The government could concede the case for an inquiry, but one with narrow terms of reference that precluded any investigation of the major matters now of growing concern. Of all modern governments this was the one pre-eminent in steering the news and controlling the agenda. Of course there were downsides. There could be uncomfortable revelations. But all this would be as nothing to the dangers that could arise from the alternative and far-reaching inquiry that the government was so determined to avoid. ”