UPDATE – Help get the petition to 500 by the end of today – Thursday, 28th. Now 429 480. See here.
UPDATE 2 – Thank you. We did it. Now over 500. But please, keep them coming!
Comment at end
27th January, 2010
Iraq Inquiry Special: Press Release
Ban Blair-Baiting petition
Full page advert for the BAN BLAIR-BAITING petition in
The New Statesman’s Iraq Inquiry special
FULL PAGE ADVERT FOR THE BAN BLAIR-BAITING PETITION TO APPEAR IN THE NEW STATESMAN’S IRAQ INQUIRY SPECIAL (OUT TOMORROW)
This week’s issue is to carry the above opposite the leader. Its content will probably be diametrically opposed to much of the coverage in the rest of the issue, which will no doubt take the form of the kind of Blair-baiting that the petition is about.
The title BAN BLAIR-BAITING is explained in the online petition as follows:
Bear-baiting, whereby a tethered bear was attacked by a pack of dogs, was outlawed in this country in 1835. It is now time to stop BLAIR-baiting, i.e. attacks on our former Prime Minister by the dogs of anti-war. Less metaphorically it can be defined as the constant incitement of hatred against Tony Blair for taking us to war in Iraq
WHO IS SIGNING THE PETITION?
The petition, calling for fair treatment of Tony Blair and fair reporting of the Iraq inquiry, is attracting signatures from people all over the world (including Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia) who are appalled by the abuse that is being directed at our former Prime Minister and who are sick and tired of those who have found him guilty of various crimes and misdemeanours before the non-judicial inquiry has considered all the evidence, far less reached any conclusions.
Here’s a typical comment from Birmingham “I believe that Tony Blair has been taunted and terrorized enough over the Iraq war. I want to see it end.” And from Bulgaria, “Mr Blair you are a true leader, you have stepped forth when all others have stepped back.”
In that piece Mr Rentoul says this about the petition “Fortunately, there are now 323 of us [since then the number is fast approaching 400] that have signed the petition to Ban Blair Baiting, a brave venture, which was always about quality rather than numbers.”
Prominent signatories include Lord George Foulkes, John Rentoul, chief political commentator at the Independent on Sunday, Oliver Kamm, leader writer and columnist at the Times, Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Tom Harris MP, Paul Trippett and John Burton from Tony Blair’s former Sedgefield constituency and Jessica Asato, acting Director of the Labour pressure group, Progress. Nick Cohen has also expressed his support.
AIMS OF THE PETITION
Starting a debate
Firstly, the petition is intended to start a debate about how Tony Blair is being treated with regard to this inquiry and how its proceedings are being reported in the media. John Rentoul has already picked up on this in his “Iraq Inquiry Coverage Rebuttal Service”. And another leading European-based blogger, Erik Svane (an ex-pat American with a large American following) has just signed and posted this piece on the petition, headed “Tony Blair supported the United States: now it’s time to support Tony Blair”
We understand that, as our former Prime Minister, Mr Blair is considered by some to have much to answer for over Iraq. And thus we appreciate that this inquiry has its place. What we cannot accept, however, is the attempt by those who have made up their minds in advance, to turn the inquiry into an Iran-type show trial. (note the demonstration planned for Tony Blair’s appearance on Friday and George Monbiot’s latest scurrilous piece at the Guardian headed “ Wanted: Tony Blair for war crimes. Arrest him and claim your reward”)
Countering the expected anti-Blair bias
Another aim of the petition and the related website, JUSTICE FOR TONY BLAIR is to form the basis of a campaign to counter the anti-Blair activity that will undoubtedly be taking place over the period of the inquiry.
Our concern is that media coverage of this activity and media competition to lay a killer blow on Mr Blair when evidence is taken at the inquiry will taint any outcome in his favour and even make it unacceptable as was the case with previous inquiries. Another concern, prompted by Sir John Chilcot’s recent efforts to reassure the public that the inquiry will not be a whitewash, is that the inquiry will turn into a BLACKwash i.e. an OVER-critical verdict on the UK’s part in the war in order to demonstrate that it is NOT a whitewash.
In sum, the simple message of the petition is that Blair-baiting should play no part in the Iraq inquiry. And it opens up a much wider and hugely important issue about the role of the media in matters of this sort.
Click back here often and refresh this page to watch the numbers rise in the box below. We would like to get to 500 before Mr Blair gives his evidence at the Iraq Inquiry on Friday. If you believe in “innocent until proven guilty”, please help us to reach that goal.
Click for the petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ban-blair-baiting.html
Spokesman: John Rentoul
A comprehensive article about the petition can be found at The Progressive
As has Harry’s Place here
Earlier posts on Ban Blair-Baiting at this site, including signature comments from around the world in support of Tony Blair, and against the lambasting he has received from the British press:
- Iraq Inquiry – Read Comments & Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition
- Update on Ban Blair-Baiting petition; Blair’s mentor Thomson dies
- ‘Ban Blair-Baiting’ at Iraq Inquiry: Petition signed by an Afghan
- Petition to ‘Ban Blair-Baiting’ at the Iraq Inquiry