BBC World ‘Have Your Say’ on Blair & Iraq Inquiry, including Blair Supporter colleagues

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    1st February, 2010

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    THE RANTERS RANT AND THE CHANTERS CHANT…

    “What to do we want? – Blair in jail – When do we want it – Now!”

    The closest this crowd of fact deniers will EVER get to seeing Tony Blair behind bars.

    With this background chanting started the BBC World (radio) Service’s “Have Your Say” programme on Friday just after Britain’s former prime minister Tony Blair had spent six hours answering questions at the Iraq Inquiry.

    I’m a bit of  a fan of the BBC World Service, I have to tell you. It takes over from my usual fix, Radio 4 at 1:00am, so I often listen in.  It can be a fulfilling experience with its wide scope of topics, from parts of the world I hardly knew existed.

    It’s THE broadcaster in the outside world, where millions, including our enemies and their western hostages  tune into to get reliable news from all around the world.

    “THIS IS THE BBC IN ANKARA, MOSCOW, HONG-KONG …”

    If it doesn’t fill you with old-fashioned British pride to hear several voices in various accents say “this is the BBC in Paris/New York/Sidney/ Prague/Buenos Aries/Nairobi  etc etc… well, you have no sense of the power of this medium or of the reach of the BBC.  It’s almost worth paying the licence fee alone JUST for the BBC World Service.

    On Friday an attempt was made to contact me as a Blair supporter from the programme makers. I didn’t pick it up as I was at the Inquiry to watch Mr Blair face down the firing squad.  Not the Iraq Inquiry panel, they pop nothing more threatening than a bottle of water to hydrate their tonsils prior to seeking  evidence from witnesses. No, it’s the British press who go all-guns ablaze for this great man as though he were an escaped convict.

    OK, I exaggerate. They’d NEVER go for the kill for any (probably misunderstood) escaped convict. Stumbling upon such an individual it’d be – ‘excuse me. But you’re not the chap I saw on that TV poster, are you? Kind of got lost from HMP Wandsworth, by any chance? No? Sorry, my mistake.’

    There has never been nor is there likely to be again an attack as ferocious, as ongoing, as lacking in balance or fairness as the feral beasts’ attack on Tony Blair over the Iraq war, its decisions and its aftermath.

    The BBC World Service, if I can make the contrast, fares far better than the domestic serving BBC for balance while reporting and particularly opining in current affairs programmes. Like every other media outlet in this country the land-based BBC, its accuracy of reporting, balance and broad-based analysis when it comes to Tony Blair is suspect, imho.

    Having said all that, let’s take  a look at the BBC World Service’s programme on Mr Blair on Friday.


    “SHOULD BRITAIN BE PROUD THAT TONY BLAIR IS APPEARING AT THE IRAQ INQUIRY?”

    [NOTE: 'BLAIR & IRAQ' IN THE SAME SENTENCE = CONTROVERSY, & CHANGE OF AGENDA]

    The question was not “Should Britain be proud of Tony Blair over the Iraq decision”, but somehow that debate dominated the session, despite the interviewer’s reminding the audience of this original question. Mention Blair & Iraq in the same sentence and the controversial questions arising from the invasion’s very inception invariably rise to the surface. It ends up being “Was Blair wrong or right over Iraq”. Perhaps that question will rise to the surface for many years, whenever Blair & Iraq are discussed.

    The presenter also asked if Mr Blair’s testimony had made listeners change their minds. The responses to that part of the debate went largely unanswered. Some of the comments are  listed below and they can all be found in full at the website. It shows how minds are already made up.

    You can now listen to the BBC debate – “Should Britain be proud that Tony Blair is appearing at the Iraq inquiry?”

    Julie wrote about this the other day here linking from Erik Svane’s site here.  My thanks to both of them.

    From Erik Svane’s site

    50 minutes‘ time worth of debate (which you can download if you wish) on Iraq, Saddam Hussein, the Iraq war, lies, torture (real or otherwise), mass graves, American foreign policy, Iraqis’ view of the conflict and the foreign presence, and the guilt (alleged or otherwise) of Tony Blair and George W Bush…

    The conversation takes place between myself (in Paris), editor Marc (?), the Carnegie Endowment‘s Masha Lipman (in Moscow), Iraqi expatriate Salam Adil (in London), and callers from all over the world, including Ban Blair-Baiting’s John Justice.


    Erik Svane signed the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here, with this comment:

    What is most galling is that it is taken as a given that 1) Blair (and Bush) lied and/or made (unforgivable) mistakes and that 2) Blair’s and Bush’s (alleged) lies and/or (alleged) mistakes before the conflict led to a war with a country as innocent, as peaceful, and as nonthreatening as Luxembourg.

    http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/2010/01/tony-blair-supported-united-states-now.html

    Go here to read articles such as “Was Tony Blair really the Yanks’ poodle?” and “Did Bush and Blair Lie About WMD?


    BACK TO THE WHYS PROGRAMME

    In the interview Erik Svane says on Tony Blair, “I’ve been supporting him from the beginning”. Svane debates with others including John Justice of the Ban Blair Baiting petition site on the ongoing controversy over Blair’s Iraq decision in the light of Blair’s evidence to the Iraq Inquiry.

    BBC BIAS?

    There are a few points of note in this interview including the annoyance raised by John Justice’s words of criticism over BBC bias against Blair. The interviewer interrupted Mr Justice and then more or less excluded him from the rest of the interview. John Justice’s Ban Blair Baiting petition, it should be pointed out, was started BECAUSE of press bias. When invited onto the programme it would have been odd had he not mentioned this bias from ALL quarters, in his opinion, including the BBC. Whatever, his input seemed to me to have been limited due to this criticism of the BBC. Enough said on that.

    But many callers were clearly supporters of Mr Blair, including one who said he was -  “One of the wisest leaders this world has ever had.”

    IRAQI CALLERS TO THE PROGRAMME  SUPPORT BLAIR

    The callers from Iraq too, were Blair supporters. One, (on a bad line):

    “Yes, I am very much satisfied … the invasion was ethical & legal”

    This caller said, “I am satisfied  … and another point has any request come from Iraq to … Mr Blair. (the interviewer interrupted this as being “hard to hear”, though frankly it was clearer than an earlier call.)

    I am not suggesting an agenda here, but cutting this speaker off just when he was saying – “No Iraqis were calling for …???” – seemed a touch suspicious to me.

    Is it not just possible that John Justice’s accusations of BBC bias have some foundation in experience? Yes,  just possible.

    INTERVIEW SECTION WITH JOHN JUSTICE

    John Justice:  “The Ban Blair-Baiting petition was set up in August last year. Our feeling was that the massive hate campaign against Tony Blair …

    Interviewer: “What are they doing that’s so wrong?”

    John Justice: “The media? Everything that is unfavourable to the government, the Guardian, etc …  cherry-picking evidence unfavourable to the government … every newspaper ignoring everything … including the Times … The BBC is supposed to be impartial according to their guidelines, if watched covered of the Inquiry all the evidence … you’ll see day in day out this bias.”

    The interviewer interjected with – “John, if you’d like to talk about the Inquiry … if it’s the former you’re welcome to stay on the programme, if it’s the latter… if it’s criticising the BBC  …”

    John Justice: “I think as usual he performed immaculately. Our worry is how this will be coming over in the media.” John Justice also said that every newspaper, including the Times has been cherry-picking the evidence unfavourable to the government and ignoring the rest. Even the BBC which is supposed to be impartial according to their Editorial Guidelines is doing this.  He then pointed out that Saddam was a brutal dictator and was threatening not only his own people but the region if not the rest of the world. He had ten years to comply with UN resolutions designed to rein him in. He didn’t.”

    J.J. – “… it was a hard decision …. the world is better without him (Saddam) … he (Blair) chose what he saw as the lesser of two evils … Saddam was a brutal dictator not only to his own region …. he had ten years to comply with UN resolution designed to rein him in … it wasn’t a peace treaty comply he didn’t. He was given ten years to comply, he didn’t. The evidence was building up that he possessed them.”

    And there were similar interjections as Erik Svane spoke a little earlier in the broadcast:

    Svane: ” Unless I’m a bad person … heading out of Baghdad … gnashing of teeth and tears and everything… the truth is and I hate to say this … even the Korean war …” (interrupted)

    The interviewer makes some reference to the man who threw his shoe at President Bush and was imprisoned for it. To my recollection that man was released early.

    Read: ‘World Have Your Say – On Air – Should Britain be Proud that Tony Blair is appearing at the Iraq Inquiry’

    SOME COMMENTS AT THE BBC WORLD HAVE YOUR SAY SITE:

    Fadil Ishak Dapilaa said on On air: Should Britain be proud that Tony Blair is appearing at the Iraq Inquiry?

    January 29, 2010 at 13:41

    I am very proud of Tony Blair, six hrs of interogation to many who had pre-judged him guilty was a shame to them. Britain and the U.S were facing impending threat from a tyrant who subjected his people to slavery with impunity. even if no WMD were found, it was to show the world that, the west was ready to defend the oppressed and to expel any notion or reality of terrorism which may retard the progress of the world and cause insecuirity among it citizens. it has not only shown the West’s military might which has tend to protect the many weak countries but also its strong will. I think Tony Blair will be vindicated after the commission’s work. I wil follow this from GHANA.

    S C Mehta said on On air: Should Britain be proud that Tony Blair is appearing at the Iraq Inquiry?

    January 29, 2010 at 13:41

    Tony Blair’s eloquence has always been par-excellence; besides, he thinks fast and logical, and knows what he is talking about. But, in the first place, this Inquiry was unnecessary, uncalled for if I may say so, and in the second, he should have refused to be grilled like a convict; If at all it was so necessary and he conscientiously felt the need to defend his decision to Britain’s participation in the Iraq war, then he could have chosen send his reply (to the questionnaire) in writing.

    15 Mohammed Haruna

    January 29, 2010 at 17:11 They should be happy and proud that their leaders have the courage to acount for d decision they took for their people’s sake. Whereas In places like my country nigeria one will never know the decision our leaders are taking.

    16 Billy Wachakana from Kenya

    January 29, 2010 at 17:19

    Tony Blayer is one of the wisest and best leaders this world has ever had. those behind the inquiry should clearly state their agenda. they may want to destroy the popularity of the labour party. I was shocked today beyond recognition as people shouted that “Tony Blair is a war criminal.” They sholuldn’t tag him that way. Tony blair remains my personal hero coz he send troops to liberia to calm the situation. Britons should acknowledje the fact that mr Blair is just a good leader.

    24 pendkar

    January 29, 2010 at 18:22

    The accountability is positively impressive.

    29 username

    January 29, 2010 at 18:48

    “Will start the prog with “Blair in Jail” chants from outside ”

    Biased BBC once again!

    33 steve

    January 29, 2010 at 19:11

    Can you ask the anti war people why they don’t buy Blair’s WMD argument? If I asked you about Iran, is it because you WANT them to get nuclear weapons so they can “stand up” to the west?

    36 steve

    January 29, 2010 at 19:14

    Can you ask your russian guest about the motivations behind, and what her personal views are, about the Russian invasion of Georgia not too long ago?She seems to be anti-war and anti invasion, so what are her views about HER country’s invasion of Georgia

    39 Andrew Nixon

    January 29, 2010 at 19:16

    I have followed for the last six weeks this inquiry, and whatever your opinions are on the context of the evidence given is one that are your own.
    However, with regards to the reporting by the BBC on this inquiry I find it both manipulative and biased.
    The subject of regret by Tony Blair will be a subject that will rage long and hard for some considerable time to come. The question posed by Lord Chilcot was,” Are you sorry for the suffering and loss and do you have any regret? The reply from Tony Blair was Yes he was Sorry for the Human Loss, but as far as regret for the decision that he took – No.
    It is a sad loss for anyone if their Son or Daughter die in conflict, but let us not forget that the Army in this country is voluntary. You sign up knowing the consequences.
    In my opinion all war is wrong per see, but until such a time comes when war is irradiated ; it is an inevitability.
    People in power have to make tough decisions, and sometimes those decisions are difficult and hard to swallow – This is one such decision. And once again we as a country freely elected this man into power.
    If you were able to watch the unabridged hearings and the overtly biased summary’s during the breaks by the BBC commentators (obviously following the editorial edicts of their producers), you will have witnessed the dismissive responses by Emily Maitlan to views and opinions that fell outside this remit. In particular the comments made by the lady who is foreign Ambassador from Kurdistan in this country. She said that she finds it hard to understand the inquiry, and cannot understand why the UK is not proud of the work they have put in to removing Saddam Hussein from power. Ms. Maitlain’s response was disgusting. Consequently in the intervening time to the next break it was obviously a frantic search through connections to find people that would have opinions similar to those of the people producing this programme. Low and behold this was the case.

    Once again we find ourselves being manipulated by the media to form opinions that they themselves want us to believe. I cannot force myself to have to listen and watch the summary on the Six O’clock news taking everything out of context and presenting a picture that has been decided by a closed group of people from primarily white middle class backgrounds, and have certainly no concept of repression and fear in a dictatorial society.

    43 Billy Wachakana from Kenya

    January 29, 2010 at 17:34

    Mr Tony blair acted honourably by senting british troops to Iraq. Many britons and other europeans may have thought he was crazy by doing this. people who feel he was ujustified have obviously never experienced a terrorist attack. I personally support blair in what he did coz my father died in 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi. I hate terrorists and all action to deal with them must be approved immediately.

    January 29, 2010 at 19:44

    The Iraq inquiry in UK is an exception even for advanced democracies. In countries where there is lack of democracy, it is a crime to criticise the government . It is unimaginable even to conduct a frank interview with a leader by the national media, let alone asking that leader to sit for hours answering questions from an inquiry team.

    51 Bilar Peter

    January 29, 2010 at 19:46

    Well, it’s commendable that the former british pm was questioned for hours. As a Nigerian I wish my former president Obasanjo will also avail himself for such, cos he has far more to answer to Nigerians than Blair has to his countrymen. But of course I’am day dreaming, that will never happen in Nigeria. Bilar Peter from Nigeria.

  • 56 steve

    January 29, 2010 at 19:53

    The acts AFTER the invasion, the bombings, etc are from sectarian intolerance, from religious, hatred, and not because of the US. The US has invaded plenty of nations, where this hasn’t happened, so there is something inherently wrong with Iraq. We occupied Germany for over 50 years, did anything like that happen there? Japan?

  • 57 steve

    January 29, 2010 at 19:54

    Why would Blair lie or ally himself with Bush if he didn’t believe it? Remember, Blair is from the Labour party, the left. Bush is from the right. Even the British conservatives are lefties compared to our conservatives, so why on Earth would Blair ally with Bush if he really didn’t believe?

    Fadil Ishak Dapilaa January 29, 2010 at 22:25

    I am very proud of Tony Blair, six hrs of interogation to many who had pre-judged him guilty was a shame to them. Britain and the U.S were facing impending threat from a tyrant who subjected his people to slavery with impunity. even if no WMD were found, it was to show the world that, the west was ready to defend the oppressed and to expel any notion or reality of terrorism which may retard the progress of the world and cause insecuirity among it citizens. it has not only shown the West’s military might which has tend to protect the many weak countries but also its strong will. I think Tony Blair will be vindicated after the commission’s work. I wil follow this from GHANA.

    Ojuolape Afeez January 30, 2010 at 06:24

    It is good such a thing is happening though I’m still waiting for the outcome of this inquiry. What is interesting is that is only in developed country like Britain such a thing can happen, I wonder if it were to be in Nigeria?

    70 S C Mehta

    January 30, 2010 at 06:29

    Tony Blair’s eloquence has always been par-excellence; besides, he thinks fast and logical, and knows what he is talking about. But, in the first place, this Inquiry was unnecessary, uncalled for if I may say so, and in the second, he should have refused to be grilled like a convict; If at all it was so necessary and he conscientiously felt the need to defend his decision to Britain’s participation in the Iraq war, then he could have chosen send his reply (to the questionnaire) in writing.

    Cajetan Iwunze (UK) January 30, 2010 at 23:16

    I do not think so because people always cry foul when a politician got something wrong. The question is did he do anything wrong to deserve such a long humiliation in the hand of people who have no clue of the good things Blair did for our country? My answer is that he is an innocent man who has done no one any wrong. Love him or hate him he is the best leader the world has ever produced. Some people do not like him because he refused to hand Britain to the hand of terrorists and murderers. If Blair had been Mr Obasanjo the former President of Nigeria who drinks human blood for breakfast he would have been recognised as good leader. While Dictators who should stand for trial at World Court of Justice were rewarded with lucrative job in UN by the corrupt official who has turned murderers into saints. What crime did Blair commit that he should stand trial? Nothing, which shows that this world is not fair. The criminals who killed Jesus of Nazareth are now hunting for our political messiah “Tony Blair”

    Little Ole American January 31, 2010 at 22:27

    Mr. Hemp,
    Your opinion of GW is not shared by a LOT of Americans. We do not find him ignorant, ineffective or trigger happy. In fact, the tide of opinion about Bush is moving more and more into his favor. Why? Because of the ineptitude of our present administration, resulting in more terrorist attacks in one year than we saw in the entire 8 years of the Bush Administration. You probably would not be living in Kuwaite today if it hadn’t been for the intervention of a BUSH family member. MOST Americans have respect and admiration for Tony Blair.
    I suppose that makes MOST Americans stupid, in your opinion. You are entitled to it, but I am entitled to mine, too. Independents and even some of the Left in the U.S. are starting to see the “light”. Bush/Blair were right.





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    One Response to “BBC World ‘Have Your Say’ on Blair & Iraq Inquiry, including Blair Supporter colleagues”

    1. Rentoul to BBC on Iraq Inquiry – “No, it’s NOT a trial”. (I was witness to this too!) « Tony Blair Says:

      [...] Tony Blair « BBC World ‘Have Your Say’ on Blair & Iraq Inquiry, including Blair Supporter co… [...]

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