Comment at end
6th May 2010
BREAKING NEWS: UKIP LEADER NIGEL FARAGE INJURED IN AIR CRASH
Pictures shown on the BBC show Mr Farage seemingly unconscious inside the plane’s wreckage.
SCURRILOUS, HYPOCRITICAL BEHAVIOUR FROM THAT NICE MR CAMERON & HIS COWARDLY CRONIES
I am sure there are many examples of below-the-belt politicking from all parties in this campaign. But for me this takes the biscuit. We might have expected this from the Lib Dems, who are and always have been against Tony Blair’s Iraq decision. But from THE TORIES!? How principled! How contemptible. How utterly cowardly to target in this way while NEVER mentioning Iraq in the public campaign. How Jeremy Hunt is blatantly “spinning” this story while criticising Labour for “spinning”.
You will recall that the Conservatives backed Mr Blair on Iraq. I’d just like to learn if their half a million videos actually made any difference in the constituencies where they were distributed. I sincerely hope not. Interesting how little press coverage this dreadful bahaviour has had. Good to know the moral values of our press, don’t you think?
Tony Blair addresses the nation at the start of the Iraq war in March 2003 Photograph: Paul McErlane/Reuters
The Conservatives last night played the Iraq war card for the first time in the general election campaign, in an attempt to win over voters tempted to support the Liberal Democrats who led the opposition to the invasion in 2003.
As cabinet ministers appeared to be at odds over whether Labour should encourage tactical voting to keep the Tories out of power, the Conservatives last night released a video which reminds voters that Tony Blair went to war in 2003.
At the same time, a fresh round of opinion polls indicated that Britain may be heading for a hung parliament, potentially handing the Lib Dems the balance of power. A YouGov poll in today’s Sun shows some recovery in Labour’s position and a fall in Lib Dem support. The Tories were unchanged on 35%, Labour was up two points on 30% while the Lib Dems were down four points on 24%.
A ComRes poll for ITV News and the Independent showed no change. The Tories were on 37%, Labour on 29% and the Lib Dems on 26%.
In the tightest election since 1992, the Tories made a brazen bid for Lib Dem voters by glossing over the Conservatives’ enthusiastic support for the Iraq war to remind voters of Labour’s record. A nine-minute video, sent out to 500,000 voters, features a grainy black and white film of Blair’s statement to the nation in March 2003 when he announced that British forces would join George Bush in overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
The video then shows press cuttings from the anti-war Daily Mirror of the Downing Street Iraqi arms dossier and the controversial claim that Saddam could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order.
Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, who launched the video, said: “We think there were two big mistakes with Iraq. The first was the way the whole Iraq project was instigated and executed — the post-invasion planning which led to a much much greater loss of life than was necessary.
“But, most importantly, the thing we disagree with was the way spin was used as a tool to persuade the British people of the case for war.”
The Tories launched their bid for Lib Dem votes amid conflicting signs from the cabinet whether to recommend anti-Tory tactical voting. Ed Balls, the schools secretary, and Peter Hain, the former Liberal who is now Welsh secretary, both indicated that voters should support Lib Dems if that is the best way of defeating their Tory candidate. The two ministers were careful not to call explicitly for a Lib Dem vote because that would breach Labour party rules.
But Gordon Brown, who yesterday used a Guardian article to urge Lib Dems to vote Labour in 100 seats where the contest is between Labour and the Tories, resisted endorsing calls for tactical voting. “I want every Labour vote because I think people will look at the votes as a whole and they will look at what Labour has achieved,” he said.
However, Brown’s aides were happy to allow his close ally Balls, who was travelling with the prime minister, to brief journalists on how he understood Labour supporters could vote tactically.
“I’m not going to start second guessing their judgments,” Balls said. “Of course I want the Labour candidate to win, but I understand people’s concerns about letting the Conservatives in.”
However, Douglas Alexander, the international development secretary who is Labour’s election co-ordinator, called for a strong Labour vote. “If you vote for the Liberal Democrats you could wake up on Friday morning and see a Conservative-led government, including Liberal Democrats. We are campaigning for every vote.”
Nick Clegg yesterday refused to respond to overtures from Labour cabinet ministers as he stubbornly refused to advise his voters to vote Labour in seats where only Labour and not the Lib Dems have the chance to deny the Tories their seat.
“I am fed-up with the old politics, where two cliques in the Labour and the Conservative parties think it’s their birthright to play pass the parcel with your government, as if you’ve got nothing to do with it, as if you’ve got no say. Peter Hain and Ed Balls are telling people what they should vote against, not what they should vote for. I want you to vote with your heart, with your best instincts, for the future you want.”
- Julie has written on this here with the numbers of MPs on both sides voting for the Iraq invasion.
- World BB News refers to this story.
- I have little time for this site, which falsely makes itself out to be neutral on Iraq. But at least it is consistent in its pretence, as is clear from its “by the way” reference here.
- John Rentoul is almost spitting blood over Tory “brain-dead propaganda”
1. From Peter Stothard, at The Ghost of Tony Blair comes this:
‘No one, however, should be cynical enough to think that this is what Tony Blair truly wants to do these days. There has been not a week since he was forced out of office by Brown in 2007 that he has not thought of what he would do if he had survived the final pressures to depart as he had survived so many of them before. In the final electioneering days, he has even decided to risk damnation for “doing” rather than for “not doing.” The matter of “damnation,” it should be said, is no small one for a man who has a “Faith Foundation” amongst his new interests these days and who on Tuesday wooed a doubtful Lady Mayor by loosening his shirt button to show his bright silver crucifix and getting a “Shake My Hand, Brother” for his effort.’
2. From The Daily Beast’s Tunku Varadarajan, who is hoping we elect Cameron as the next PM.
‘First, Tony Blair is not running for office, which is too bad, since he was the best British prime minister America has had since Maggie Thatcher (who was, herself, the best since Winston Churchill).’
3. My thoughts on this article from Johann Hari – “What Do We Lose If We Reject Labour?”
The toughest thing about politics is that we don’t all agree on some BIG things, even when we agree on a lot of things. And so Tony Blair came unstuck with the Left of his party over Iraq and a few other issues, even though HE was mostly right and they, as usual, were mostly wrong. And even though they lapped up most of the stuff they thought was right, they couldn’t stomach all the stuff he thought was right. Still, I feel a touch of empathy for Johann Hari here as he tries desperately to save the country from Toryism. Calm down, Mr Hari. It’ll probably be Nicely, Nicely Nick running things by the weekend. And then it’ll all be fine. You’ll get your systemic changes from a crowd who care. You’ll never get a majority government again, but hey, we can’t have everything. Losing the country’s soul to a crowd who don’t like sofa government, well, there we go. That’s democracy. Or something.
Tags: conservatives, contemptible tory video, Daily Beast, David Cameron, farage's plane and banner, hypocrisy, hypocrites, injured, iraq war, Jeremy Hunt, Johann Hari, Nigel Farage, Peter Stothard, plane crash, remind Iraq, shadow culture secretary, Tony Blair, Tory spin on Iraq, UKIP, video sent to Liberal Democrats