As Tony Blair prepares to take centre-stage at the Iraq inquiry the press have gone into overdrive, analysing every possible outcome of the 6 hour session in London today.
However the truth is that by the end of the day – despite any headlines you may read in tomorrow’s papers – we are highly unlikely to know anymore than we know now. Blair is an accomplished performer, one of the greatest in modern politics, and it his message is well honed – and has been since 2002. He will repeat that the world is better place without Saddam Hussein in power, he will repeat that not finding WMDs is a very different thing to the Iraq regime having the capability to assemble and use them at short notice and he will remind everyone that he took his argument to a Commons vote – and won. Sure, he will throw a few crumbs to the Inquiry – probably expressing regret at promoting the now discredited 45-minute claim, he will show public remorse for the loss of life of british servicemen (but not without the huge caveat that more would have died due to inaction) and I am confident, if asked, he will suggest again that more could have been done to plan for the rebuilding of Iraq. But, let us be clear, there will be little or no new news of worth to either the public or, more importantly, the Inquiry.
This causes huge problems for Sir John Chilcot, with none of the big players really giving anything away (think Campbell, Hoon, Goldsmith, even Straw), what exactly will he be able to report that we don’t already know? What recommendations can he make to ensure that Britain never again voluntary enters a war without any agreed exit strategy? In short, how is he going to make this inquiry succeed where all others in the UK have so far failed?