29 Oct 2015

Chilcot Inquiry: a very British farce

The Chilcot report appears bent now upon entering the theatre of the absurd. Not content with spending six years investigating the misjudgements, intelligence failures, political decisions, US/ UK relationship, and more, in a war that displaced 4 million people and killed many more than 100,000, Sir John Chilcot now says it will take yet another eight months to produce his report. He tells us it promises to be some two million words long.

Has the inquiry team decided that redemption lies in producing the longest ever work in the English Language? And they are going to pull it off. The only challenger that I could find is Artamene ou le Grand Cyrus, a meandering romantic novel, translated from French. But Madeleine de Scuvery not only failed to make the 2 million mark (1,954,300), but in 1649, despite having no laptop, did take two years less than Chilcot to deliver it.

2 million _words_chilcot

And if Chilcot had hoped that the Holy Bible (807,361 words) might have overhauled him, he is sadly mistaken. So what of the Great Bard? No luck there either for Chilcot. He only managed a mere 884,000 words in all his works put together. But hang on a minute didn’t the wonderful Vikram Seth get somewhere near 2,000,000 words with his everlasting Suitable Boy? Not a chance, a measly 593,074 words is all he could manage.

Who amongst us will ever read all two million words of Chilcot’s collected prose? And even if we do, will guilt, innocence, madness, patriotism, or anything else be clear enough for anyone to discern.

No, this is in the great tradition of the British system. Take a long time, produce an even longer report, so long after many of the events described are long gone, and many of the individuals have been replaced or have even died, and Bob’s your Perfect Uncle: Everyone’s in the clear!

Follow Jon Snow on Twitter: @jonsnowC4

Chilcot counter

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

8 reader comments

  1. Michael Harkin says:

    Coming, as I do, from Derry, in the North of Ireland, I hope you will forgive this crusty old cynic if he does not hold out much hope for this initial Chilcot Report to be anything but a justification for the Iraqi slaughter, leading to, eventually, the creation and arming of IS and it’s allies by the Western powers. Perhaps in another 40 years or so some light will be cast upon those events. I wouldn’t hold my breath. Did I mention I’m from Derry?

  2. Antonio says:

    Can we then strip him of his knighthood?

  3. Alan says:

    Actually national ‘security’ checking will reduce it to a fact sheet and as most government to public fact sheets, will contain cartoon characters. Mr Blair et al must be very satisfied.

  4. H Statton says:

    I would not wish any ill on John Chilcot (age 76), and I have no idea what the likes of Ladbrokes and William Hill have to say on the matter of the Iraq Report, but here is my view on some of the potential odds:

    2/1 Michael Crick gets bashed over the head for asking probing questions.

    3/1 Deadline is extended and the timetable wheel is reinvented.

    5/1 New protracted timetable is agreed.

    6/1 Chilcot again snubs offers of help with report.

    25/1 Length of report exceeds Artamène/Cyrus the Great, by Georges de Scudéry/Madeleine de Scudéry

    30/1 Report is completed and in press before time.

    40/1 Chilcot dies of boredom before completion of the report.

    50/1 Tony Blair is hung out to dry.

    55/1 Tony Blair changes religion, again.

    1000/1 On the other side of the Atlantic George Bush quietly admits ‘it’s a fair cop’, but publicly denies everything before blaming Obama for current Middle East crisis.

  5. william joseph says:

    yes primeminister springs to mind

  6. Philip says:

    the problem is that this is extraordinarily sensitive territory with massive legal implications for many involved. If you set up this sort of enquiry with a painstaking civil servant who plays it by the book in charge, this is what you’re bound to get. Anyone likely to be criticised will demand to check the evidence & exactly how the relevant bits if the report are worded – and Chilcott won’t want the whole thing covered in writs when it is eventually published. There will be reams of documents & areas where discussions took place unminuted where perceptions of what was said may well vary. If you set something like this up, this is the sort of thing you’re going to get.
    If you want to avoid it, you have to break it up into smaller chunks, with questions that need to be answered. You put a bigger team on it and you require an interim report within, say, 2 years.
    But it seems to me this was set up with the intention that it would take such a long time that when it came out, it would be so long after the events as to be of substantially les importance….and that it’d be virtually impossible to point the finger of criminality at anyone…and that blame would be shared around in small portions.
    I realise there are many who would have liked a quick report which said Blair lied and that the Iraq invasion was illegal. That’s all right for comments on facebook, etc – but without adequate evidence, anyone stating it could end up having to justify such comments in court. Being right isn’t the same as being able to prove it.
    It seems to me Chilcott could at least come out a lot sooner with any recommendations for how to avoid this sort of thing ever happening again – not least through some form of independent legal input into any intelligence sources or legal advice that is being used to justify UK military action.

  7. Des says:

    In the boring, repetitive, coverage of the Syrian crisis, which has brought a warm feeling to the tummies of assorted journalist, missing is any allusion to citizens responsibilities. “Liberty will not descend to a people, a people must raise themselves to liberty, it is a blessing that must be earned before it can be enjoyed.”
    Benjamin Franklin

  8. Laurie Oliver says:

    This can be summed up in 6 words. “Power Corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Comments are closed.