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Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Why Blair had a vote on Iraq?

Even the keenest of Blairites would be unable to argue, realistically, that Tony Blair is a Prime Minister with a particular respect for Parliament's traditions, role and authority. Nonetheless, he chose - unnecessarily - to give the House of Commons a vote on the Iraq War, a vote he may have known he would win with Tory support, but which revealed the extent of opposition to the action he took. Was this a rare recognition of the importance of the House of Commons?

Here's a theory: perhaps he had a vote because although he was aware it would reveal in a fearsome aggregate just how numerous his Labour critics were, he also knew that by so doing he could trap an awful lot of others into supporting the venture. It would not be Blair alone who was responsible for the decision, so it would not be Blair alone who would have to defend the war and its consequences from then on. It's difficult enough to admit one was wrong, and doubly so when one is in politics. By forcing so many of his colleagues to take an unmistakeable pro-war stand in March 2003, in almost every case Blair's decision won their support then and now.

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