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Weekly feature WHOM should we admire most: the members of Anthony Eden's Cabinet of 1956 who all kept mum while Britain, France and Israel colluded in the fabrication of an excuse to justify an invasion of Egypt to take back control of the Suez Canal from President Nasser; or those members of Anthony Blair's Cabinet of 2004 who are prepared to reveal a little of the collusion between Britain and the United States to find an excuse to justify an invasion of Iraq? Before we answer that question let's spend a moment thinking about Selwyn Lloyd, Eden's Foreign Minister, who went secretly to Sevres in France to devise the plot that would first see Israel invade Egypt and then Britain and France intervene to protect the Suez Canal from the combatants. For years and despite incessant rumours, Mr Lloyd always denied totally that any such meeting had taken place or that any such plot had been hatched; his denials were all–important because Anthony Eden had retired on account of ill–health and left politics. For his loyalty (or to keep him quiet) Selwyn Lloyd was made Chancellor of the Exchequer by Harold Macmillan and later became Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons. In 1971 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons and served for five years. Let me repeat that. In 1971 he was elected Speaker of the House of Commons and served for five years. A serial liar about a war which led to Britain's ignominious withdrawal from the Suez Canal on instructions from John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State, was chosen by Conservative MPs to hold one of the most prestigious posts in British public life. Later, he was made Baron Selwyn Lloyd before his death in 1978. Although he lied and lied, we are supposed to respect Selwyn Lloyd because he kept his mouth shut, regardless of the wickedness and foolishness of the events in which he played a leading role. NOW we come to Clare Short. She is not the clearest minded minister who has ever sat in the Cabinet; if she were she would never have allowed Tony Blair to persuade her to remain in the Cabinet after she had resigned. But she has her principles and she acted on them when on Thursday morning she told BBC radio that Britain and the United States had been spying on the Secretary General of the UN and members of the Security Council during the debates over weapons inspections and Resolution 1441. In other words she acted in a way diametrically opposite to Selwyn Lloyd and all the other members of Eden's Cabinet who hid behind collective Cabinet responsibility and Privy Council provisions. We may be sure that Clare Short will not be rewarded for her openness and honesty with ministerial promotion or election to the Speaker's chair. There has been an amazing amount of hypocrisy on display over Ms Short's action and the case of Katharine Gun, the GCHQ translator whose prosecution for offences against the Official Secrets Act was mysteriously abandoned by the Crown Prosecution Service. Cries of “treachery” have been heard from people who should know better. Have we learnt nothing from the shifts in public perceptions of how politicians should behave? If Tony Blair lies why is it wrong for Clare Short to tell what she believes to be the truth? There is increasing evidence that the Prime Minister took the decision that Britain should join the United States in an invasion of Iraq long before he eventually asked the House of Commons to approve such a course of action and probably long before he even told his Cabinet that he had committed himself. Ms Short believes that to be the case and thinks that Mr Blair is not entitled to any loyalty to protect him from the wrath of the British people when all the facts are eventually established – as they will be. The idea that there should be an inquiry into what the Government sees as Ms Short's indiscretions is ludicrous. Home Secretary David Blunkett said yesterday that the possibility would be looked at “in the cold light of day rather than on the back of a radio interview by a former Cabinet minister” – a typical Blunkett put–down. The Government's preference for inquiries into strictly limited aspects of the Iraq business is notorious but, sooner or later, the inevitability of a major inquiry into the whole sordid business will have to be accepted. KATHARINE Gun's case is fascinating. The immediate reaction to the withdrawal of her prosecution was that the Government and the US were deeply concerned about some of the documents and evidence about the origins of the Iraq war that might emerge during her trial. That was obviously a danger but it is now also believed that the Crown Prosecution Service came to the conclusion that it could not rely on persuading a jury that Ms Gun was guilty as charged. The prospect of a Not Guilty verdict or a hung jury was probably more than the Government's legal advisors could face. THE parallels between the Suez war and the Iraq war are remarkable. In each the Government of the day knew that at least half of the population was opposed to military action and in each it sought to hide the true reasons for the war from the public. The question we have to ask ourselves is whether we prefer the kind of closed political climate existing in the 1950s and 60s that enabled the Government to impose a complete cover–up of the facts about Suez, or the more open climate existing today when an aggressive media and more independent–minded politicians do not hesitate to tell what they know if they believe it to be in the public interest. In the end the answer might boil down to whether we prefer the likes of Baron Selwyn Lloyd or the likes of plain Ms Clare Short. I know which is my preference.