by Ray Fleming

One of the least publicised re-arrangements in David Cameron's recent cabinet re-shuffle was his decision to leave Kenneth Clarke in charge of the Justice and Security Bill which he has been nursing for some time as Justice minister while making Chris Grayling responsible for the rest of the department's work. Clarke, who is also Minister Without Portfoloo with a seat in the Cabinet, has expressed his anxieties about the Bill which creates for the first time in Britain secret courts to protect sensitive intelligence material from being revealed in open court. In an article in the Guardian yesterday Mr Clarke surprisingly put the blame for needing these closed courts fairly and squarely on Tony Blair: “Most people are aware that Tony Blair's disastrous war on terror has resulted in a substantial rise in individuals, often former detainees at Guantanamo Bay, bringing compensation cases against the UK government, alleging mistreatment.” In 2003 Mr Clarke voted against the Blair's government's case for invading Iraq alongside the United States (Mr Cameron voted in favour) so it might be said that he has a score to settle. But in fact there are signs that public sentiment is moving against Mr Blair over the Iraq war and his tendency to expect to be regarded as an expert on Middle East issues when his most significant involvement in the area was so disastrously wrong.