Did a man who supports a group calling for the DEFEAT of British troops kill off Blair’s chances as EU president?

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    24th November, 2009



    Hugh Muir at The Guardian has this to add to the “why did they go cold on Tony” post mortem.

    Excerpt: ”So a miserable few days for Tony Blair but a slightly better time perhaps for Peter Brierley, the father of Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, who died during the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Blair, as we know, was scuppered in his attempt to become the EU president. Peter Brierley, we learn, can take some of the credit for that. Or depending on your view, some of the blame. For when he snubbed Blair at the Guildhall memorial event in October, his words to the former PM – “I’m not shaking your hand, you’ve got blood on it” – struck a chord with anti-war types here, but if anything they had a greater impact in Paris. According to senior government sources there, Nicolas Sarkozy told his staff the EU couldn’t risk having a man as president who might be confronted with similar angry scenes. Three weeks later, on 28 October, Sarkozy – who initially supported the Blair candidacy – met Angela Merkel for dinner, where they agreed that it couldn’t possibly be Blair. Both framed a variety of public arguments that undermined Blair’s chances (we need a centre-right figure; Britain is not in the eurozone), but the genesis of Sarkozy’s about-turn was that “blood on your hands” confrontation. “If that’s the result, I’m pleased,” Brierley told us yesterday. Words can be the most devastating weapon of all.’

    Without hearing from Sarkozy himself or from Merkel, and we have heard officially from neither on Iraq’s importance, it is hard to be sure if this mattered one bit.

    Into the mix, if one is still looking to shift the blame from the Franco/German mutual support axis, was the then upcoming Iraq Inquiry at which Blair was set to give evidence, and still is.  None of this was news, and the second of these was more likely to cause concern in real politik than the first. But, if any of this Iraq business played into the decision, there is another more likely scenario.


    No-one could be seen to blame Sir John’s unfortunately-timed announcement less than a week prior to the EU presidency decision that Mr Blair would be appearing in January/February for the withdrawal of support from Blair.  Poor Sir John was under enough attack as it is. I DO question why he could not have waited a few more days, but perhaps there was good reason.

    But on the other hand, no-one will criticise a poor bereaved father for giving vent to his feelings, even though a volunteer army’s volunteers all know the risks. Useful, if one has already quietly decided, but wants to pretend one hasn’t.


    Perhaps it is time we DID criticise those who complain so bitterly about their personal losses on the field of battle. No politician, in contrast to what Radio 4’s John Humphries recently said, actually sends soldiers “to die” in foreign wars. The soldiers volunteer to FIGHT for the cause, and in most cases return proudly to tell the tale.

    So is all of this mention of the bereaved father no more than a convenient excuse? Quite possibly.

    Just supposing for the sake of argument the “blood on your hands ” accusation DID matter. WHY should it matter?

    Such charges have been made repeatedly for years to Blair and to other leaders who took their countries into Iraq. It is true that France and Germany did not go along with the other 22 of the 25 EU members who also supported America in the Iraq invasion. Oh, you hadn’t realise it wasn’t just Britain and America?  Odd that. (See here.)  But it is also true that had Merkel or Sarkozy been in office in 2003 they might well have supported the USA, since their relationship to America was not the same as the Left-leaning parties which were in power in their countries in March 2003.

    Whilst not dismissing it completely, I am sceptical about this story. Surely, if that had been clearly the case, Mr Blair would NOT have allowed his name to be mooted so loudly, first as the favourite and then as the challenger to Van Rompuy?


    It actually smells to me. It smells of Sarkozy gallantly taking some of the blame from Merkel’s shoulders. After all they are in this together. It will be seen as the failure of BOTH of them for failing to back Blair when Europe starts to flounder and sink under nonentities like Van Rompuy and the Other One.

    The mention of two other names, one being Mandelson, being thrown into the hat at the last minute for EU Commissioner adds heat if not light. The Other One, who got the job, was the THIRD CHOICE! Why would Miliband withdraw from his possible post as High Commisioner and why would Mandelson look to throw his name in at the end, when it had only become clear in the last two days that Blair was out of the picture?  In my opinion Miliband withdrew because it had become clear that HIS presence in the game was being used to stop Blair who would clearly outshine and possibly even outrank Merkel and Sarkozy. Miliband’s name being bandied about was possibly a straw man all the time, providing an excuse for others to position themselves by insisting that the High Commissioner should be from the Left but the President from the Right. In reality either would have been interchangeable. And Miliband still had his eyes on future leadership of the party post-Brown.  Few would have wanted him to risk defeat at the EU level thus lowering his chances of taking over from Brown.

    As for Mandelson, despite his being a canny operator, he did not see which way the wind was blowing against Blair until a day or so before the vote. If he had, he would have been in there pronto as  a candidate post-Miliband. Blair was still clearly being talked up by SOME,  setting him up nicely for a fall.

    There is much we may never know as to the whys, by whom, and wherefores.

    One thing we can be sure of is that New Labour was outwitted this time, for whatever reason, and mainly by Merkel and Sarkozy.


    Peter Brierley, the bereaved father who supports the Socialist Workers  – an extreme left-wing group whose leaders suggest ‘defeating’ our troops so that they cannot win in foreign battles –  may be presently basking in the adoration of the braindead Left. They see him as the victor in the “death” of  a political giant.

    From Socialist Worker, March 2003:

    Socialists have done and continue to do all in our power to build the movement to prevent war and to stop war when it starts. But if war starts the very worst outcome would be a quick victory for the US and Britain.

    The best response to war would be protests across the globe which make it impossible for Bush and Blair to continue. But while war lasts by far the lesser evil would be reverses, or defeat, for the US and British forces.

    That may be unlikely, given the overwhelming military superiority they enjoy. But it would be the best outcome in military terms. It would make it more likely that Blair would not survive, and Bush would be in trouble too.

    It would limit the ability of the US and its allies to impose suffering, war and death on an even bigger scale. Socialists have a long tradition to draw on in taking this stance. When the First World War started many who had spoken against war in the run-up to it fell into line behind their national governments when it started.

    KNOW YOUR ENEMY. It is such as these.

    Words CAN be the most devastating weapon of all, and in the wrong hands they can backfire, Mr Brierley.

    If such as Bierley, a politicised  ‘pygmy’ (I’m sorry, we all grieve at some times in our lives, but we must also be tough enough to take being told what we are) thinks he has scored a famous victory, perhaps he is right.  If so, he has also killed off, until it can be resuscitated, Britain’s place in Europe and Europe’s place in the heart of Brits. Thank you, Mr Brierley.

    Tony Blair is not dead politically and will return.  Europe’s recovery may take longer – far longer.


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