Inside Politics with Batley and Spen MP Mike Wood

INSIDE POLITICS Mike Wood.
INSIDE POLITICS Mike Wood.

The publication of the findings of the Chilcot inquiry will represent a monumental moment in the political history of our country and, I hope, open a window on to many aspects of the way in which we are governed.

I hope it will cast a light on how we go to war and the way in which our politicians, civil servants, intelligence services and armed forces operate and make decisions in that context.

It is now shamefully overdue however.

The inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot reported to the prime minister last week that his team had made ‘substantial progress’ but that the report was still not ready to publish and wouldn’t be until after May’s general election.

This smacks of high level interference and it is greatly dismaying. Publication of this report is something constituents have raised with me and which MPs raise in formal questions in Parliament on a regular basis.

The suggestion that unforthcoming responses from individual witnesses who were criticised in an earlier draft are to blame is completely unacceptable.

I suspect the real reason for the deal owes more to the intelligence services and particularly the Americans attempting to keep secret their secrets!

Either way the inquiry should be above that and robust enough to deliver its report free from interference.

The Iraq war should never have happened.

We were lied to. There were no weapons of mass destruction.

Britain should never have joined the USA in that disastrous and tragically ill-conceived misadventure. With all we know, and all we suspect, we must now finally be privy to how and why it came to pass.

The reverberations of the Iraq war are still being felt – even in Parliament. MPs are now clearly resistant to repeating their ill-fated, ill-judged rush to war in 2003, as proved when the government attempted to begin military strikes against Syria in August 2013.

Even the prime minister is now reluctant to use the royal prerogative to declare war, as he still can, without parliamentary approval.

As a nation we must know what happened.

But Chilcot should also offer us a meaningful chance of honouring those who died, by finding out why and how they came to be there in the first place.

Young men from Batley and Spen died in Iraq. Some of their parents have been among the most prolific campaigners for answers and justice.

Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley from Batley died in Kuwait in 2003, one of the earliest British casualties of the war.

Sgt Christian Hickey from East Bierley was killed in an improvised explosive device attack in 2005.

I’m sure there will be more twists and turns but we must get this report and the sooner the better.