Whilst the revelations flow thick and fast in the Hutton Inquiry, the central exercise for Blair and his cronies is how to deflect and avoid blame. A shoddy string of Pontius Pilates roll out before the inquiry, trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the events leading to Dr David Kelly’s suicide, desperately trying to point the figure of blame elsewhere.
The Hutton Inquiry’s narrow terms of reference mean it will not probe Blair and his henchmen about the lies and distortions they resorted to in justifying the invasion and looting of Iraq. But nonetheless, enough has been revealed already for a majority to decide that this government clearly lied to back up its poodle-like subservience to US imperialism and it stinks.
Many may see the Hutton Inquiry as a diversion – of interest only to the chattering classes – and not addressing the substantial issues, only examining whether or not the government sexed up the dossier and inserted patent lies.
However, as latest opinion polls show, a majority have already decided that Blair and his government lied on a grand scale. Whether or not they tweaked the truth a bit here and there, seems immaterial.
It is their bigger lie that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and posed a ’threat’ to world peace and security that has been shown to be patently false through the email of Blair’s chief of Staff Jonathan Powell which said that the draft dossier did not have the evidence that Saddam "is an imminent threat".
The occupying forces have now had longer inside Iraq than the UN weapons inspectors were given before the conflict began and still they have found no evidence of WMD. Indeed, Blair has changed his tune to say that they are looking for evidence of programmes for WMD, rather than WMD themselves.
The daily report of further civilian and military casualties, combined with the growing resistance and guerrilla struggle inside Iraq shows that this is a conflict that Blair cannot wash his hands of quickly.
In that context the Hutton Inquiry, despite its limitations, could prove the beginning of the end for Blair. Despite his intention to line up individuals like Geoff Hoon and Alistair Campbell as the fall guys, the revelations so far show Blair’s grubby fingerprints ranged all over Whitehall in the distortion, lies and arm-twisting that led to Dr Kelly’s suicide.
Moreover, Blair’s single-minded intention of saving his own skin poses the danger of bringing the whole rotten edifice of the government down with him. The Hutton Inquiry’s end result could be a serious further undermining of confidence in establishment institutions.
A possibility arising from Hutton is that the British ruling class, like the US ruling class after Watergate, would attempt to re-establish checks and balances on the power of the prime minister and the executive, and attempt to reassert some parliamentary control over government.
Indeed, one relatively hidden asset of the Hutton Inquiry is how it has forced the government and other institutions of the state to reveal their inner workings. It is holding them, marginally at least, more accountable than Parliament has been able to achieve.
New workers’ party
However, the real force that will hold Blair and his cronies accountable is not sitting inside Court 73 of the Royal Courts of Justice. It is residing in Britain’s factories, offices, shops, schools, colleges and streets – the people who opposed the war and will never believe another word Blair or his government says.
But, the question that remains for this majority is that, even if Hutton proves Blair’s undoing, replacing Blair with Brown resolves none of the mounting problems working people face under New Labour. Nor does it remove the threat of further US invasions supinely supported by a New Labour (or Tory) government.
A start can be made in showing the mass opposition to Blair and New Labour by building for the Stop the War Coalition demonstration in central London on 27 September. But, beyond that a new political alternative needs to be created.
The Hutton Inquiry, regardless of the limited intentions of the judge and its participants, has unravelled a whole can of worms that will eventually push millions to look towards the establishment of a new mass workers’ party: a party that exposes the institutionalised lying, greed and corruption of the British establishment and genuinely represents the interests of working people.
This article first appeared in The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales