Iraq Inquiry, Part 2: John Prescott & The Media’s take; BBC

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    1st August 2010

    This post is Part 2 of Prescott at The Iraq Inquiry, following on from the previous – Iraq Inquiry (Part 1 of 4), John Prescott: Tony Blair had the gift of “true leadership”

    Before we go on, here’s a funny thing  –

    That reminds me – do you remember Prescott here in 2001? And Tony  Blair saying, “That’s John, for you.”

    We’ll leave on hold who exactly we thought Blair meant when he talked about a “clunking fist” just before he stood down. As usual I didn’t agree with the press’s analysis then.  It clearly wasn’t Brown, as we NOW ALL KNOW.

    Right. Where was I, before I got carried away by clunking fists?

    OUR GLORIOUS ‘TRUTH SEEKING’ PRESS – The Broadcasting Media

    First the BBC – because they deserve it.

    Honest John, who is remembered and celebrated by many for laying one on an egg-throwing lout in the 2001 election campaign, did not show his tough side at the Iraq Inquiry on Friday. He wasn’t belligerent or defensive. He didn’t try to distance himself from Iraq or Tony Blair or his decisions. He was not intimidated by the event.  In fact, to the consternation of the press, he was completely supportive of Mr Blair.  Yes, he had misgivings over Iraq; they ALL had misgivings, he made that clear.

    The media’s coverage of Lord Prescott’s evidence still shows a closed-mindedness over the Iraq war and against Tony Blair personally. And the BBC are possibly the worst of the lot.  I say that mainly because their remit is to provide balance.  The remit of the commercial broadcasters Sky News or ITN News is not for balance. And the written press, most definitely not.

    I do not accept that the BBC does provide balance when it comes to Iraq and/or Tony Blair. It’s their economy of truth that is their weapon, rather than outright lying. Rather than give full accounts or full videos or quotes, they cherry-pick. Even the BBC News Channel, where they have 24 hours to fill, you’ll be hard pushed to find FULL accounts of the evidence at the Iraq Inquiry and debate argued both ways. If it’s not THEIR angle, there’s no angle.

    But they suggest they are “balancing” things by saying such as -“But Mr Blair/Prescott/Goldsmith/Campbell all deny that they did anything wrong.”

    THAT’S “balance” a la Auntie BBC nod and wink. A “yeah, right” sort of balance.

    The BBC had this online – “Iraq intelligence ‘not very substantial’ says Prescott”. Here you can see a video and judge what Prescott actually said about “tittle-tattle”.

    The Beeb’s headline isn’t anything like,  “Blair has true leadership, vision, courage and compassion. Humanitarian interventionism working”. Not – “I’d do it again”, says Prescott.  Not – Prescott: ‘the war was legal‘. Not – Prescott: JIC and Manningham-Buller presented government with “wrong” Intelligence.

    Oh no. No-one ese had any responsibility for ANYthing as far as the BBC is concerned. Only, in parentheses, the then government. Or to be more precise – the then Prime Minister.

    Their main report is all about the Intelligence not being “very substantial”.

    They have a longer, 25 minutes, video (edited) report here by Peter Biles – on ‘The Week at the Iraq Inquiry’ – leading with the antis’ favourite Hans Blix who refers to the “military train” that the UK was on. He questioned Blair’s “judgement” and repeated his “illegal war” position. He also referred to the inadequacies of the “intelligence” on WMD. This is the man who ALSO thought Iraq had WMD,  and at the Iraq Inquiry last week admitted thinking so and even saying so to Tony Blair.

    Odd how the antis fail to remind us of that, isn’t it?

    And so this BBC video went on, with former army chief Sir Richard Dannatt (now aiding the Tories in government). His position is and was clearly against the war in Iraq. Then the army chief when Iraq was first invaded, General Sir Mike Jackson. He was more sympathetic to the then government’s decision, though his criticisms of parts of the government and the lack of helicopters  was chosen to be included in this video, and few of his positive thoughts. His “at all costs, we must see this through” was included by the BBC here, though. Prescott ‘s edited part started with the “sofa government” business.  Defended by Prescott as normal in governments before he was cut off by Sir Roderic Lyne. Then straight into the “evidence” and “tittle-tattle” business, including his thoughts on the Joint Intelligence Committee papers submitted to government by our security services.  Prescott’s reference to American “unfinished business” in Iraq, as put by American democrats, is also included here. As, to be fair to the BBC, is his belief that the war was “legal”.

    I can partially commend to you, again by the BBC’s Peter Biles – “Prescott brings curtain down in style”. It is lighter in tone, not virulent in pursuit of “the truth” and all in all fairly well-balanced. Why do I give it only a partial commendation? Because, in the well-worn fashion, it ends with a hands-in-the-air shrug –

    “A year to the day since the inquiry was launched, Sir John Chilcot has signalled that some witnesses may need to be recalled in the late autumn, and the committee still hopes to visit Iraq.

    Sir John says they intend to report ‘around the turn of the year’.

    The questions then are simple: what will the final report conclude about Britain’s involvement in Iraq, and will it make any difference?”

    Yes. Upsetting isn’t it? No illegality. No lying. No trial.

    Still, perhaps the online BBC staff need to have a word with some of the broadcasting staff to see if they can teach them a thing or two about attempting balanced comment and reporting.



    Denied, of course. But there is history regarding Campbell, dossiers and resignations.

    I contend that their bias is still showing, DESPITE Laura Kuenssberg’s recent local trouble over getting in a spin and twisting the facts to suit the policy, as it were. I assume that nowhere in any official notes or minutes will we find that the BBC has a policy on Iraq and Blair. Useful at times, in the face of an “enemy” not to keep records, isn’t it?  But we ALL KNOW that. Don’t we?

    The below video is taken from a BBC TV report on Friday.

    John Prescott, sofa gov. and Iraq war decisions (30 July 2010)

    I have often found Nicholas Witchell’s tone on the Iraq invasion clearly prejudiced, even if his words are not as spun as Kuenssberg’s were. For instance when Tony Blair arrived at the Inquiry early on the morning of 29th January to the sounds of Big Ben, Witchell felt compelled to make a (for whom) the bell tolls remark. Perhaps, in fairness, that was only artistic license, and we should not read too much into it. Perhaps I’d have made a similar association myself, albeit from a different perspective.  But I am not paid by the BBC to be impartial.

    Still, all day yesterday, Saturday, the top story on the BBC News Channel’s ‘politics’ tab has been Prescott’s “doubts”.  And this on the day that the Pakistani Security Services’ visit to London has been cancelled due to their anger over Cameron’s Pakistan terror exports faux pas while speaking to receptive ears in India. The Beeb clearly has other fish to fry than this government, or David Cameron, or international relationships or mere concerns over terrorism.

    Perhaps there is now a touch more balance creeping into their reports. Though like the rest of the press they too have confused their tittle with their tattle.



    I am very ‘doubtful’ if this is much better:

    Sky News report – headline is – “Lord Prescott Doubted Iraq WMD Intelligence”


    Unfortunately Sky News cannot be held accountable for bias or misrepresentation as can the publicly supported BBC.  From Sky we had selective quoting and the twisting of words, as in the caption to this picture below –

    Lord Prescott described the threat posed by Iraq as ‘tittle tattle’


    What John Prescott actually said was this below taken from the transcript. (Oh, a complete quote. In context. How quaint!) –

    RT. HON. THE LORD PRESCOTT (P16):  “That was my impression at the time, but, you know, I just thought, ‘This is the intelligence document. This is what you have’.  It seemed robust but not enough to justify that you could do that.  What you do in intelligence is a bit of tittle-tattle here and a bit more information there and a judgment made, isn’t it, to be fair.”

    The “tittle-tattle” reference was to what he believes, to be fair, is generally done with intelligence, NOT this particular intelligence. But on this particular WMD intelligence is exactly how they and most of the press have written it up.

    Sky also has a useful Inquiry Timeline linking through some of their choice reports since the Inquiry began about a year ago. Their reports, of course, so they may well not be comprehensive.



    I advise that in “truth-seeking” you visit the Iraq Inquiry website itself – Home page. From there you can watch all the evidence videos including the whole six hours of Tony Blair and the transcript from his evidence, as well as the video evidence by John Prescott. You can also read all the transcripts of each evidence session including that of John Prescott.

    And you can see all and any papers and notes posted by the Inquiry panel itself.  Straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were WITHOUT the varnished opinion of the British press shading every dot and comma.


    “Reading the evidence and listening to all the arguments, I know it is quite fashionable to be critical of Tony Blair inside and outside this Inquiry. We have seen a few people gloss over their part of the history and what happened, but let me say that no-one in Government took this decision to go to war lightly. We thought considerably about it. I personally and privately witnessed the Prime Minister agonise over each and every death over Iraq, civilian and military, British and Iraqi.  I learned that true leadership is not about having the benefit of hindsight. It is about having a gift of vision, courage and compassion, and I believe that Tony Blair had all those three.  If you want to see if his humanitarian interventionism, which has been a discussion here, succeeded, then go to Kosovo and go to Sierra Leone.  Hopefully we will soon be able to say the same for Afghanistan and Iraq and finally welcome our brave troops back home, confident of a job well done.  I think that’s my conclusion, having worked with Tony Blair, and witnessed it at close hand, and privileged to do so. That’s the point I want to make as to a lesson that people should take into account when they are looking at this Iraq Inquiry.”

    WHO SAID THIS MAN IS INCOHERENT? Beautifully put, John.

    Go here to Julie’s for a fair write-up of Prescott’s evidence at the Inquiry

    Next post, truth-seekers – “Prescott, Part 3,  tittle-tattle Viewspapers”



    I ‘DOUBT’ IT



    Hans Blix told Blair Iraq had WMD

    ‘Former United Nations weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix told former Prime Minister Tony Blair that he believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction six months before the invasion of Iraq, the Iraq Inquiry has heard.

    Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the war, Blix said he told Blair of his belief privately some six months before the invasion.

    “I, like most people at the time, felt that Iraq retains weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “I did not say so publicly. I said it perhaps to Mr Blair in September 2002 privately, but not publicly.”‘



    Iraq Inquiry website Home page. Video evidence of Tony Blair and entire transcript from his evidence.

    Video evidence of  John Prescott and entire transcript of the evidence of John Prescott.

    Julie has an excellent post here. No spin, just facts.


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    A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”

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    6 Responses to “Iraq Inquiry, Part 2: John Prescott & The Media’s take; BBC”

    1. The wisdom of Lord Prezza « Says:

      […] Part Two […]

    2. Peter Reynolds Says:

      OK. I agree with you that the BBC could have headlined its coverage with “That’s Real Leadership…” rather than “…tittle tattle…” but perhaps that is the correct position for a critical, sceptical analyst to adopt?

      I had the extraordinary privilege some years ago to sit next to Gen Sir MJ on a Lufthansa flight home from Germany. We sank a few whiskies together. He was great company and a really, good, honest, down to earth, sincere gentleman. If more people in senior positions were like him I can only believe that our country would do much, much better. He was an inspiration to me.

      I have never liked Nicholas Witchell’s tone – about anything. He is a rather unpleasant, snide little man who I think perfectly characterises the picture you are painting of the BBC – and there is truth in that.

      Lord Prescott’s closing words are quite wonderful and I am grateful to you for recording them. Very well put indeed m’lud.

      I admire your earnest defence of good ol’ Tone. As a life long Tory I have always had a soft spot for him. I think your attacks on the BBC are a little too pernickity though. It is their job to be critical. They do make mistakes at times.

      Overall, I believe the BBC has sustained “Britishness” and the values that I think you and I share much better in recent years than has Parliament. It is a wonderful institution and I think we are very lucky to have it.

    3. resistor Says:

      Of course ‘Honest John’ never lied to his wife, did he?

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        @ resistor – True. He did lie. I imagine. Not that I followed his affair. It has never really interested me as to what politicians get up to in their private lives. Not a Mail, Sun or News of the World reader, y’see. I’m more French than British, in my approach to private lives, I suppose.

        Anyway, don’t most of us who are unfaithful, lie to the other half? Haven’t met too many, still alive to tell the tale, who’ve TOLD the wife.

        “Oh, by the way, darling, you know my new secretary? She’s very good. So good I’m giving her one regularly. Stops her asking for a rise (raise in Amurican.)”

    4. Helen Says:


      You should put facebook etc quick links on your page so it can easily be shared with friends.

      I just used the Prescott transcript to disprove someone who said he had said “the intelligence on Iraq was all just tittle tattle”, so thank you for that.


      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Thanks for using the link back here, Helen. You’re right. I should add the FB and Twitter links to every post. Btw, I complain about the BBC but even MORE about the rest of the press, the printed opinionated press. They all cherry-pick, and we, the gullible, accept that it is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Sadly. Well, maybe not “we”, but many of “they” accept and believe the press.

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