Labour, it is fair to say, is having some problems at present. Bitter infighting, a leader who has decided that parliamentary democracy and the rules that go with it are not his cup of tea, talk of a split – why not throw in the launch of a long awaited report on the Iraq war that will stir the pot even more? You have to wonder if this is exactly what Cameron and Osborne had in mind when they set the date of the report’s release.
At 2.6 million words, the final Chilcot report is twice as long as A La Recherce Du Temps Perdu. In a report of that length, anyone coming at the Iraq War from any angle whatsoever will have something to take from it that suits their narrative – and already this has been on display. Fair enough, but the problem for Labour is that right at a time when it has so many forces pulling it apart, here comes something else to help that along.
I was against the Iraq War from the start – most of the reasons I was against it bear up to the scrutiny of time: I thought it would destabilise the region, stir up Shia-Sunni problems, and seemingly discredit the idea of liberal interventionism completely. Great, I was right about all of that. But it was thirteen years ago. The Left needs to stop seeing everything through the lens of Iraq and think about something else for a change.
For instance, this witch hunt against Tony Blair. If Blair was hauled before a tribunal and done for war crimes, would the Left feel like it was justice received and then move on? I really doubt it. I don’t think there would be satisfaction until all of the “Blairites” – and by that I mean actual Blairites, Brownites, the Soft Left, the right of the Labour Party, any portion of the Labour Party that doesn’t like Corbyn, i.e. most of it – were hauled in front a jury.
This is a useless fight for the entire energy of the left of centre to engage itself in. While the Tories dust themselves off from the Brexit crisis and converge around a new leader, the centre-left is about to tear itself to pieces further, this time over something that happened more than a decade ago.
Iraq shouldn’t have happened. Fine, use the Chilcot report’s release to vent. But does the Labour Party really want the timing of the Iraq Inquiry to decide its future all on its own? And do the Lib Dems want to continue flogging a thirteen year old horse? Scariest of all is this idea that we should somehow make it harder for a prime minister to make judgements on national security. So because Blair abused his office a long time ago, we should now revoke prime ministerial privilege to protect the country? There could well be a day we live to regret such a decision.
This all comes during a day, yesterday I mean, in which Jeremy Corbyn essentially destroyed not only the Labour Party in the current sense, but the very idea of the Labour Party as a concept. Oh dear.