David Cameron's decision to support the SNP/Plaid Cymru motion calling for an immediate inquiry into the Iraq war has drawn criticism from one of his own senior MPs. Quentin Davies, a former Defence spokesman, has outlined the view that any inquiry should only be held after the war, and that to have decided to join the call for one now was irresponsible and folly of the first order. Daves is a thoughtful and independent minded Tory MP whose views can hardly be disregarded lightly, especially since on this subject he echoes a reasonably widely held view amongst Tories.
On Iraq, however, Cameron is faced with a difficult position. The Tories supported this war, and can't easily simply call for withdrawal. In trying to formulate a coherent stand on the war, they are hamstrung by their failure to take a more strategic view at the time (not surprisingly, Ken Clarke was one of the minority of Tory MPs who opposed the war at the time, thus showing again that he had a much clearer long-term view of political issues than many of his associates). They are also caught by their desire to remain friendly with America, which is surely a foreign policy position whose time is up. A genuinely reforming Tory leader, which Cameron seeks to be and shows, on some fronts, that he is, would seriously question the blind allegiance successive Tory and Labour leaders have shown to America, and start to wake up to a new world order. Our puppy-like devotion to the American cause - not shared by the majority of British voters - has rarely brought us any dividends at all, and seems motivated primarily by the desire of Prime Ministers to walk tall on the world stage. From the time Roosevelt made us pay through the nose for the support he offered in World War 2, through Eisenhower's betrayal of Eden over Suez and Reagan's ambiguous attitude over the Falklands, to Blair's comprehensive failure to have been able to influence any strand of US foreign policy despite his utter commitment to them, the US has shown that it has no regard for the so-called 'special relationship'. It's about time British leaders dropped it too, and there is no reason why an internationalist Tory leader couldn't, with integrity, do so. After all, it was a Tory Prime Minister who, during his brief term, understood the realities of Britain's European position and divorced himself from America to align with Europe. His name was Edward Heath.