The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, August 17, 2003

The Gilligan bombshell - what the Plawg said at the time

Curiosity overcame me, and I looked.

The record is scanty: nothing on G Day (May 29) or the day after; on May 31 a long piece on WMDs - but talking about the apparent campaign being mounted by USG (in the form of Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) to downgrade the importance of the whole WMD issue.

And then about the transcript of the secret meeting between Straw and Powell at the Waldorf on February 5. The meeting that the Guardian later accepted never happened (a volte-face which itself seemed less than kosher). The 45 minute claim figures only tangentially in a PS on the maunderings of a Blair groupie betrayed.

There was a debate in the House of Commons on June 4 calling for an independent inquiry into the handling intelligence on Iraq. But, on June 5, I was underwhelmed. (Honest injun...) I fully expected Labour MPs to rally round, for fear that a fatal attack on Blair would be fatal for them too - at the next election! In fact, I said,
Only if the proverbial smoking gun appears from out of the blue - and there must be shorter odds for winning the lottery! - will it be politically advantageous for Labour to ditch Tony B Liar.

Now, I would point out that, even after a week of Hutton, there is still no smoking gun. (The infamous Presentationally memo from Hapless Hoon's man, effectively condemning Kelly to trial by TV - here and here - which includes the deathless words
I understand that No 10 would be content with this approach
falls distinctly short of something with Blair's fingerprints all over it.) But the odds of finding one I suspect are shorter, perhaps by a factor of a million or more.

(It links a transcript of a performance by Blair's walking Glasgow kiss, John Reid on the Today programme - home of A Gilligan - on June 4 which is illustrative of the Alastair Campbell approach to government presentation.)

And a piece later in the day suggesting , re the possibility of smoking guns, that
email is such a very tempting medium for indiscretion - it's just possible that someone, after a couple of beers, has provided the necessary.

Now, the volume of documentation that has emerged even after a week - unnecessary, ill-considered or, to use Kevin Marsh's word, bonkers - rather confirms the temptation is frequently yielded to, beer or no beer.

As of yet, the really bonkers missives disclosed seem to have come from the BBC. When the Prince of Darkness himself (Alastair Campbell, that is) appears before Hutton next week, the balance may be redressed.

(There are a couple of further pieces in June - finishing on June 17 dealing with Robin Cook's appearance before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee - still yawning at that stage. Little did I know....)

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