Sir John Major criticises Tony Blair over Iraq war
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major has criticised Tony Blair's handling of the Iraq war and his presentation of the case for invasion in March 2003, BBC reported.
Sir John said he had reluctantly backed the war because he believed what Mr Blair had said as prime minister.
But now, he said, big questions had been raised by the unfolding evidence to the Chilcott Inquiry into the war.
He told the BBC the argument that Saddam Hussein was a bad man and must be removed was an "inadequate" one.
Sir John said it now seemed there were doubts before the invasion about whether there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said he wanted to know whether the cabinet had known about those doubts.
He said: "I had myself been prime minister in the first Gulf War, and I knew when I said something I was utterly certain that it was correct, and I said less than I knew.
"I assumed the same thing had happened and on that basis I supported reluctantly the second Iraq war."
Sir John said he did not know whether the invasion was potentially illegal, but he added that in the mid-1990s President Clinton's administration had raised the question of regime change with his officials.
They replied that any attempt to remove Saddam Hussein as a bad man had to be legal and viable.
Sir John said the argument that someone was bad was an inadequate argument for war.
"There are many bad men around the world who run countries and we don't topple them, and indeed in earlier years we had actually supported Saddam Hussein when he was fighting against Iran.
"The argument that someone is a bad man is an inadequate argument for war and certainly an inadequate and unacceptable argument for regime change."
Sir John said concerns about the Iraq war needed to be addressed if the public's trust in politics was going to be restored.
But he said spin was also "a real problem" and the government needed to get rid of advisers who "exercise the black arts" who say things which are "often questionable, if not downright dishonest".
"I think we can get respect for Parliament back providing governments and oppositions are frank... providing they don't let spin doctors perpetrate half truths and don't produce absurd slogans like boom or bust and whiter than white," said Sir John.
"It won't be easy and it won't be quick, but it is absolutely essential, in my view," he added.
Politics also needed to reassert the "independence of mind of the backbencher" - so the whole House of Commons was not governed by the executive and whipping system, he said.
It was "degrading" for members of parliament to have to respond to the party line with the "parrot slogan of the day", he added.
Tony Blair is due to answer questions at the Chilcott Inquiry in the next few weeks.