Bill's Archived Comments

for the week beginning: Monday, 23rd September 2002

Contents of this page (scroll down the page to see the full text of the article which interests you)

- Honesty in Government (ii): Curry (sic) causes Major upset (28 Sep 2002)

- Honesty in Government (i): Estelle Morris dismisses Sir William Stubbs (28 Sep 2002)

-  Iraq and weapons of mass destruction - the 'dossier' is published (24 Sep 2002)

-  A Tory think tank wants to extend Section 28 (24 Sep 2002)

(If you wish to see other articles, please click on the 'Archives' link above to go there now)

Honesty in Government (ii): Curry (sic) causes Major upset (28 Sep 2002)

The above is not a reference to what dodgy food can do to you!

No, it seems that the Prime Minister who launched a 'back to basics' [personal morality and other such worthy things] campaign was himself a few years earlier an adulterer. Today it is revealed in excerpts published in 'The Times' newspaper of Edwina Currie's autobiography that she and John Major, then a fairly junior member of the Conservative government hierarchy, had an affair between 1984 and 1988. It is being said that he broke off the relationship when he was appointed to the Cabinet - career path, you know, mustn't risk that. It seems, from what I have heard so far, that Mrs Major has been aware of the affair for some years, but it is not entirely clear when she became aware of it, and how.

Something I haven't heard mentioned so far is the curious fact that it was also in 1988 that Mrs Currie herself resigned as a Junior Health Minister after having stated that defective animal husbandry in the poultry industry was a major contributory factor in the incidence of Salmonella in eggs; she was forced out on the pretext that she was a scare-monger, but it became clear subsequently that her remarks were in large part accurate. Could this have been some elaborate cover-up to ensure her just-ended (or about to end) relationship with Mr Major remain private. And why has she chosen to reveal this affair now, when it has so successfully been kept confidential to date?

Honesty in Government (i): Estelle Morris dismisses Sir William Stubbs (28 Sep 2002)

Within one hour of the publication of Mike Tomlinson's report into the controversy surrounding A-level results in England and Wales this summer (allegations that grades had been manipulated in order to ensure that pass-levels remained consistent with earlier years), the chairman of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) Sir William Stubbs was dismissed by the Education Secretary Estelle Morris. Curiously, however, Sir William had been cleared of any wrong-doing by Mr Tomlinson's independent inquiry (as had Ms Morris herself).

It seems that Sir William's criticism of intervention by Ms Morris earlier this week, which he stated compromised the independence of Mr Tomlinson's report, made Sir William's continuation in his role unacceptable to Ms Morris. Ms Morris opined the day following the allegations that they were in essence correct, but that she had not 'interfered', merely planned for a range of potential outcomes of Mr Tomlinson's report. That's all right then.

Iraq and weapons of mass destruction - the 'dossier' is published (24 Sep 2002)

The British government today published a file of information relating to its view that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein presents a real danger to regional and world peace. The dossier is roughly 50 pages in length and I have spent part of today reading through the whole document, some parts several times. The most important sections (the Foreword by the Prime Minister, the Executive Summary and the Current Position: 1998-2002 [including the whole of chapter 3]) make for very interesting and in parts quite alarming reading. I have printed out these pages, plus a few additional pages from other sections, for my own future reference - about 25 pages in all. You can see or download the full document if you wish at the Downing Street website or at the BBC Radio 4 'Today' website.

A few key sentences from the PM's foreword to set the scene:

  • Its work [The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC)], like the material it analyses, is largely secret.
  • In recent months, I have become increasingly alarmed by the evidence from inside Iraq that despite sanctions, despite the damage done to his capability in the past, despite the UN Security Council Resolutions expressly outlawing it, and despite his denials, Saddam Hussein is continuing to develop WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction], I wanted to share with the British public the reasons why I believe this issue to be a current and serious threat to the UK national interest.
  • I am in no doubt that the threat is serious and current, that he has made progress on WMD, and that he has to be stopped.
  • I am quite clear that Saddam will go to extreme lengths, indeed has already done so, to hide these weapons and avoid giving them up.
  • We must ensure that he does not get to use the weapons he has, or get hold of the weapons he wants.

The phraseology the PM used was quite brutal in some respects and the clear implication of the first sentence quoted above is that there is a good deal more information available, but which remains confidential, to back up the increasing alarm the PM states he feels.

The Executive Summary [ES] and the section detailing the Current Position: 1998-2002 [CP], flesh out in various ways what Tony Blair included in his foreword:

  • Intelligence also shows that Iraq is preparing plans to conceal evidence of these weapons, including incriminating documents, from renewed inspections. And it confirms that despite sanctions and the policy of containment, Saddam has continued to make progress with his illicit weapons programmes. (page 5 - ES point 5)
  • But the threat from Iraq does not depend solely on the capabilities we have described. It arises also because of the violent and aggressive nature of Saddam Hussein's regime. His record of internal repression and external aggression gives rise to unique concerns about the threat he poses. (page 7 - ES point 9, first 3 sentences)
  • Iraq has a useable chemical and biological weapons capability, in breach of UNSCR 687, which has included recent production of chemical and biological agents; (page 17 - CP first bullet point)
  • Iraq can deliver chemical and biological agents using an extensive range of artillery shells, free-fall bombs, sprayers and ballistic missiles; (page 17 - CP third bullet point)
  • In the last six months the JIC has confirmed its earlier judgements on Iraqi chemical and biological warfare capabilities and assessed that Iraq has the means to deliver chemical and biological weapons. (page 18 - Chemical and Biological Weapons point 4; refer to phrase "including from secret intelligence" used on page 17, point 2 of the same section)
  • In mid-2001 the JIC drew attention to what it described as a "step-change" in progress on the Iraqi missile programme over the previous two years. It was clear from intelligence that the range of Iraqi missiles which was permitted by the UN and supposedly limited to 150kms was being extended and that work was under way on larger engines for longer-range missiles. (page 27 - Ballistic Missiles point 24 - see also point 26 on same page)
  • In early 2002, the JIC concluded that Iraq had begun to develop missiles with a range of over 1,000kms. The JIC assessed that if sanctions remained effective the Iraqis would not be able to produce such a missile before 2007. .... In the previous six months Iraqi foreign procurement efforts for the missile programme had been bolder. (page 27 - Ballistic Missiles point 25 - first second and fourth sentences)
  • Iraq has managed to rebuild much of the missile production infrastructure destroyed in the Gulf War and in Operation Desert Fox in 1998. (page 30 - Ballistic Missiles point 31, first sentence)

It is possible, I suppose, that Blair is a participant (willing or unwilling) in a grotesque plot to label Saddam Hussein as a dangerous tyrant in order to justify action against Iraq, so that 'the West' might gain control of the oil resources of the country with the second-largest reserves on the planet. Whatever I may think of Blair and his New Labour government, and my opinion of both is not particularly high, I have yet to conclude that he is a liar. Nor do I think he is completely mad - which I consider he would need to be to acquiesce in a military adventure purely for the purpose of securing oil supplies from a region which is already lacking in much political stability; the resources that would need to be devoted to maintaining control of a 'conquered' Iraq for any length of time would probably be immense.

No, I think it is clear that Saddam Hussein is a cruel and sadistic despot who has shown on numerous occasions that he is prepared to exact terrible revenge against those who cross him, and whose fate he can influence directly, and that he has no scruples in the use of terrible weapons against foreign enemies or indeed Iraqi citizens. It is to me unthinkable that we should sit idly by whilst his regime continues to develop deadly weapons - in a few years time we may have even harder choices to make if we don't act now. As I have written before, whatever action is undertaken to try and halt this development is unlikely to be easy and incident-free and there will no doubt be many recriminations if action resulting in significant casualties, military or civilian, takes place. War is never easy.

A Tory think tank wants to extend Section 28 (24 Sep 2002)

'Renewing One Nation', an official Tory think-tank, called yesterday in a book launched by Iain Duncan Smith for children to be spared teaching at school using "harmful material relating to sexual orientation". According to Cameron Watt, an analyst for the think-tank, a "widening of the legislation is needed" to counter the "irresponsibility" of some of those involved in school sex education. "NHS Health Trusts, under the pretext of healthy living, have been distributing harmful, and unnecessarily explicit, heterosexual and homosexual material in schools. 'Health promotion' is not covered by Section 28 and therefore offers an easy means of subverting the legislation," according to Mr Watt. "This loophole should be closed by extending the existing legislation to cover harmful material relating to all sexual orientation."

Over the past several months, senior Conservatives (notably the leader) have said they have been touring Europe to seek out ideas for improving public services in this country. I wonder if this crazy idea also came from Europe?

I hardly think so, because the UK certainly has major problems resulting from its existing sex education procedures which are already markedly more rigid than in most western European nations. These problems range from the highest level of teenage pregnancies in the developed world to a high and growing level of youth suicide, specially amongst younger males. None of the problems experienced in the UK are shared by European countries with much more liberal policies relating to sex education in schools; examples are Holland and Sweden. Even many southern European countries have a more 'enlightened' attitude - and fewer problems than experienced here.

I can only imagine that the Conservative Party has now accepted that Section 28 is discriminatory against homosexuals and is trying to show that it does not condone such discrimination by seeking to extend the legislation to cover every other kind of sexual orientation, too. On one level this might perhaps be 'logical' (if crazy and sadly misguided), but as The Daily Telegraph points out in an editorial today, "Conservatives do think there is such a thing as society, but it must be a free society." Even though the ideas of this think-tank are not [yet] official policy in the Conservative Party, it is a sad commentary on the detachment of that Party and its acolytes from present-day British society. For a Party trying to portray itself as 'inclusive' and 'caring' it really is very strange.

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Copyright © 2002 William Cameron