Brown: Iraq invasion was right
Brown expresses regret for the damage inflicted on those in Iraq and those who died in the war, and tries to avoid the political damage for the part he played in that.
For Gordon Brown there was no need to sneak in like Tony Blair. His car arrived at the front door and he walked past the occasional shout and the odd jeer not looking back. The police were there in numbers, the barriers in place, but there were only a handful of protesters to greet his arrival at Britain’s official Iraq Inquiry.
Throughout the build-up to the war, one of the biggest mysteries was the position of Finance Minister Gordon Brown. One of the most powerful figures in the Labour Government, the presumptive successor to Tony Blair, he made no public comment on the build up.
Within seconds of sitting down in front of the panel that makes up the Chilcott Inquiry his position was clear.
The war was right and carried out for the right reasons. And in stark contrast to Tony Blair, who gave evidence to the inquiry just five weeks ago - in the first seconds, there was an expression of regret: "We know there was a huge loss of life in Iraq amongst civilians and any loss of life makes us very sad indeed. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of all our British forces but particularly acknowledge the sacrifice of those who lost their lives".
Gordon Brown insisted there were lessons to be learned for all that happened in the build-up to war, all that’s happened since. Yet his evidence was given with one eye to the British general election which is only a few weeks away.
Aware of earlier evidence from senior figures who complained that finances were tight, that budgets were restricted, Gordon Brown was determined not to be painted as the man who put British lives at risk because he was watching the pennies.
Again and again through his four hours of evidence, he insisted every request from the Ministry of Defence was met, systems were put in place to do it quickly, the money was always there. I counted at least ten times he made the point and he did it so often in one short spell it drew groans in the press room.
But he's smart; he knows few people would have watched all his evidence. The sound bites would be taken, and they would say the Army had the cash to do the job.
Like many before him, Gordon Brown expressed dismay at how quickly Iraq had tumbled into anarchy. The war had been planned, the peace had not: "I never subscribed to what you would call the neo-conservative proposition that somehow at the barrel of a gun overnight, liberty and democracy could be conjured up. What I believed was that the case for intervention was that international law had to be observed but I also believed if you were rebuilding a country the people of that country had to be intimately involved in the process of doing so".
For some of the families of those who died what he said wasn't enough. One man outside said 'He had his hands on the money. He didn't do enough to make our boys safe'.
From Gordon Brown, there were no shakes, no wobbling hands like Tony Blair.
This was a confident performance of a man who knew the message he anted to push, who was on top of his brief.
He was helped by the questioning which was never aggressive, never confrontational, never unnecessarily demanding. He will have left thinking he did well.
But this was a day where Gordon Brown expressed his regret for the damage inflicted on those in Iraq and those who died in the war, and tried to avoid the political damage for the part he played in that.