By Ray Fleming

IF I had to choose between Tony Blair and Clare Short as a teller of the truth it would be Clare Short. She may seem a bit of a scatter-brain and she may not be able to boast of total recall, but on the issues that matter on Iraq she gives the impression of understanding very well what was going wrong in the early months of 2003. Her most important point in the evidence she gave yesterday to the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry was the roughshod way in which Mr Blair bullied the Cabinet into accepting the Attorney General's second opinion on the legality of a war (in a 337-word opinion that was not circulated in advance). Her opinion of the prime minister's contempt for Cabinet decision-making has been backed in the past by the then Secretary of the Cabinet. Should she have resigned at the same time as Robin Cook? Yes, she acknowledged that but said she was talked out of it with promises from Blair that he never kept -- one was that President Bush would support the case for an independent Palestinian state! The most impressive part of her evidence was on the refusal to agree with France that the UN inspectors needed more time in Iraq: “There was no emergency. No one had attacked anyone. The forces weren't ready.” Robin Cook did not live long enough to give evidence to the Inquiry. But to a worthwhile extent Clare Short spoke for him yesterday.