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Friday, February 28, 2003
The great debate

The House of Commons had an interesting debate on the Iraq situation which was remarkable for several things. Firstly, there were a few Conservatives against the war, amongst whom, Kenneth Clarke was notable. I will come to him in a minute. First a small comment about Michael Portillo and how, according to him, he made up his mind to back Blair.

Apparently, Mr Portaloo decided on the basis of the tenor of a dinner party he had been at after 11th September: "everyone" else among the representatives of the chattering class there maintained that "America had it coming".

I do not for a moment believe him. He misunderstands the attitude that I often heard expressed at the time. It can be summarised as: "it's not awfully surprising; American administrations, particularly the current one, come across as biased, belligerent, bullying, and totally convinced of their own moral rectitude. If they exasperates us, it's not entirely surprising they get up other people's noses even more". That is a very long way from saying: "they had it coming". But even supposing, just for a moment, that he heard correctly that does not have anything to do with going to war with Iraq. There is no connection whatsoever. Pisspoor logic, moosh.

Kenneth Clarke produced some dodgy logic, too, this time against going to war. He suggested (something like), the next time a bomb goes off in London, as part of a terrorist campaign, it could be attributable to our having gone to war with Iraq. Well, I suppose he has a point but whatever happened to Fiat justitia et ruat coelum (Let justice be done though the heavens fall)?

I was unable to follow much of the debate but it appears to have been totally without the suggestion that those opposing the war were cowards, traitors, Saddam-appeasers, unpatriotic or even cheese-eating surrender monkeys. We have to be thankful that such language would be considered unparliamentary and, dare I say it, unBritish.

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