Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth yesterday suggested he would not have backed the invasion of Iraq if he had known Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction.
The frank admission added to mounting pressure on Tony Blair, who stunned Westminster at the weekend by declaring that he would have championed the invasion even if he had known there were no WMDs.
Mr Ainsworth, who was Labour’s deputy chief whip at the time of the Iraq war vote in March 2003, said the issue of chemical and biological weapons had been the central factor in persuading him to back the invasion.
The contrast in positions came as it emerged that key parts of Mr Blair’s evidence to the Iraq Inquiry will be held in secret – making it likely that the former prime minister will never be held to account for the way he dragged Britain to war.
But Mr Ainsworth suggested the Government would have struggled to win the Commons vote on the issue without the WMD argument, which Mr Blair claimed was based on intelligence material.
Asked directly whether the vote would have been lost he replied: ‘I don’t know what the situation would have been.’
The point to make, and which is apparently lost on the dim-witted, is that there was a WMD argument at the time. Therefore, Blair’s position remains exactly as it did at the time of the decision was made. His argument for war was based on the regime’s failure to comply with UN demands, and the humanitarian argument was hitching a ride – quite openly, accept to the wilfully ignorant.
As Blair said, different arguments would have had to have been made in the abscence of the WMD argument, and Blair would have left the government if he had lost the vote.
So what we have here is a difference of opinion on a counterfactual history account. What a joke!