The [so called] Justice Minister has today decreed that the minutes of two meetings held in March 2003 when the legality of invading Iraq was discussed. He has signed a certificate under section 53 of the Freedom Of Information Act to prevent the contents being revealed. This is the first time since the FOI act was passed that this has been done.
I am quite frankly shocked and appalled.
In normal circumstances I would agree that Cabinet Meeting Minutes should be released in the normal way and in the appropriate time. This would also include meetings where decisions are taken that maybe deeply unpopular.
Where the decision in 2003 to invade Iraq is concerned though, the premise upon which we were publicly told that the invasion was taking place has been proven erroneous already, proven when the weapons of mass destruction that we were supposedly there to seize failed to materialise. Our government put the lives of our brave Armed Services and that of Iraq's civilian population into jeopardy for reasons that later turned out to be untrue.
This is not about if you think the invasion was right or wrong, moral or immoral. What were were told was untrue, and these minutes give the details of what was discussed and recorded in the room whilst this decision was being made. That decision was wrong. The people who made such a massive decision were wrong. They now need to be held to account.
It is outrageous that Jack Straw who was in the room as Foreign Secretary in those 2003 meeting can be allowed to block the publication today as Justice Secretary. It stinks.
Mr Straws has said that allowing the publication to go ahead would cause "serious damage to Cabinet Government, an essential principle of British democracy." I think you got your words wrong there Jack; in my opinion your decision causes damage to the members of the cabinet and seems designed to conceal your personal contribution and embarrassment in the decision to go to war.
Democracy relies upon accountability. Mistakes can be made in democracies, and in healthy democracies mistakes are published, analysed and learned from. When individuals put themselves above such concerns, the people suffer. Publishing these minutes would not put anybodies life in jeopardy; but how many people have died as a result of the decision that was reached?
They were brave enough to take the decision to commit human lives for a cause they deemed noble and necessary. We should be able today to look back and assess the sum of lives lost against the virtue of the decision, and the benefits achieved. Mr Straw prevents this. I ask myself why? Please ask yourself the same.
Unsurprisingly the Conservative Shadow Justice Spokesperson Dominic Grieve has backed Jack Straws decision. Perhaps Mr Warner was right today, maybe it is time we swept the Labour and Conservative parties aside, for both have lost all sense of philosophy and purpose.