South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon says the world faces a “maelstrom” which will take “decades to sort out” as a direct consequence of the Iraq War as the fallout continues from the long-awaited Chilcot Report into the conflict.
The seven-year wait for the publication of the inquiry into the Iraq War ended last Wednesday— and it claimed that the decision to go to war was made in circumstances that were “far from satisfactory.”
It also found that military action at the time was not a last resort, there was no imminent threat from then Iraq Saddam Hussein at the time of the vote in March 2003, and policy on the invasion was based on flawed intelligence assessments, and should have been challenged.
Speaking to the Diss Express this week Mr Bacon, who was one of 15 Conservative MPs to defy their leadership and vote against the government, said he opposed the conflict at the time as he believed the war would “make things worse.”
He also described the invasion as an “unspeakable tragedy.”
The UK lost 179 servicemen in the war, and some academic studies believe up to 500,000 people were killed in the conflict.
I think a lot of people will feel that they were misled. Personally I don’t feel that I was misled, but that is because it never occurred to me to believe Tony Blair in the first placeSouth Norfolk MP Richard Bacon
“It seemed to me at the time, that the direct consequence would be to make things much, much worse and open a Pandora’s Box, and I’m afraid that’s exactly what has happened,” he said.
“What is clear is that those who voted against the war in 2003 were not only taking the right decision, but as the Chilcot Report said, it did not need the benefit of hindsight to see that the case for war was not yet made and that is the motion we voted on.
“One gets the distinct impression that Tony Blair had made a decision and then he tried to find any reason he could for upholding and justifying that decision, regardless of anything else. That is what happened, and we all know the result.
“It is an unspeakable tragedy not just for the 179 people who were killed from the British Armed Forces, but there were far more people that have been killed. Hundreds of thousands of people have died because of it.”
Mr Bacon said he found some of the informal decision making processes leading up to the decision to go to war as one of the “most disturbing” aspects of the report, and it was “absolutely vital” it should not happen again.
“The (former) prime minister (David Cameron) has made a significant difference with the creation of the National Security Council so that everything is formally minuted and decisions are taken in a structured way, on the basis of evidence, rather than in informal cabals,” he said. “I actually think the intelligence agencies were put under enormous pressure to come up with the answer that the government wanted, which is not how you should do things.”
A motion from Mr Bacon’s Conservative colleague, David Davis MP, could be presented on Thursday, accusing former prime minister Tony Blair of misleading parliament.
“I think a lot of people will feel that they were misled. Personally I don’t feel that I was misled, but that is because it never occurred to me to believe Tony Blair in the first place,” he explained.
“I did not detect sincerity in the things that he was saying. It seemed to me that he had made a decision already and he was trying to find any reason he could to justify something that he had already had decided upon quite a long time previously.”
Mr Bacon added he thought it would be “highly likely” that some of the families of those British servicemen killed would look to pursue legal action.