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24 November 2009

Chilcot inquiry: who benefits?

On low political implications

By James Macintyre

As the Chilcot inquiry proper kicks off in Westminster today, some observers are asking which parties may gain or make losses from the hearings.

On the one hand, the relief among some in government that it won’t report until after the election is an indication that the conclusion could be damaging to Labour. After all, this was Tony Blair’s war.

On the other hand, the Tory party led by Iain Duncan Smith went out of its way to support the intervention, something that is all too often forgotten. And that the hearings are taking place at all under Gordon Brown’s post-Blair government may not do the government any harm. Having said that, the timing of Blair’s hearing in January could not be worse, coming as it does mere weeks, potentially, before the general election. Brown, it should also not be forgotten, remains one of the firmest Atlanticists in the Labour Party and, yes, he supported the 2003 invasion, too.

As for the Liberal Democrats, none of this will harm them. It may even give them the boost they so badly need after sacrificing their identity by flirting with the Tories.

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