The BIG (biased) Question – War Crimes & ‘The Downing Street One’

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    UPDATE: Watch the entire programme here (available for 7 days from today) My quick thoughts:  Cristina Odone is a lying idiot, who can’t even get her facts over Tony Blair & God straight. And, Ms Odone, we DON’T “all view” Iraq as an “unjust war”.  Tim Cross was knowledgeable and gave the best responses in support of Blair.  Lance Price was almost as good, and Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet and journalist Kenan Malik spoke like reasonable people should. One/Nil to Blair.

    23rd January 2011

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    John Rentoul has this on A [BIG] Biased Question [Also copied below] The sexed-up picture below is pure imagination, suitable for the sexed-up question.

    Clearly assuming that this sort of question cannot be debated in our ill-informed, legally ignorant public forum, with anything approaching sufficient legal knowledge or personal detachment, Rentoul has other holes to pick with it.

    The main one being that it is being asked at all

    • It is insulting, derogatory and highly offensive.
    • It is a leading question.
    • But by posing it people are being led to accept the question is reasonable.
    • The unreasonable question, with its assumptions of balance, breaks the BBC’s Charter of Impartiality.

    Here is Rentoul’s article:


    The BBC series The Big Questions is re-asking number 180 in my series of Questions to Which the Answer is No tomorrow:

    Should Tony Blair stand trial for war crimes?

    Another step down the slope. In the past I have objected to studio guests on the BBC casually misusing such language to mean “I disagree with the war”. Now the BBC itself has forgotten that “war crime” actually means something, including:

    murder, ill treatment … of civilian population … plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

    As there is no prospect of Mr Blair being so charged, the question is leading, rhetorical and offensive. By asking it, the BBC implies that reasonable people might take a view on either side of the question when this is not the case. To ask this question, rather than something like “Was it right to invade Iraq?”, seems to me to breach the Corporation’s Charter obligation of impartiality.


    I commented at Rentoul’s.  Since my comments have a habit of being moderated out when people find them unconscionable, aka inarguable, I’d better paste them here. Some in response to others.

    “Are you on the Big Questions defending ‘The Downing Street One’, then John? I do hope so.”


    “Everyone knows that the destruction and devastation done to Iraqi cities, towns, and villages (in fact the entire war on Iraq) was NOT justified by military necessity.

    Therefore a war crime was obviously committed.”

    Replying to bob idle


    @ bob idle –

    ‘Here we go again – “Everyone knows”.

    Question: If everyone knows, why hasn’t Mr Blair been charged?
    Answer: Because no-one really knows.
    Not even JR or me. But I have this sneaking feeling that somewhere along the charge line on any of the breakages of international law, “intent” comes into the picture, as it does in murder c/w manslaughter.’


    “I suppose we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be accused of splitting hairs in order to confuse here, John.

    I think the BBC question is badly phrased. Actually I agree with you that it shouldn’t be phrased at all, for the reasons that you provide (unreasonable question – leading, rhetorical and offensive.) And of course the people who accuse TB of “war crimes” and the like are the same people who never accuse Ahmadinejad or Mugabe or others of similar ilk of being ever so slightly off the rails in how they treat even their OWN people. Instead they accuse said gentlemen of being used and abused by us nasty westerners.

    But my main point here is that the BBC’s leading question should have referred to “international crimes”. That way it covers all possibilities.

    And you know how it goes – if the BBC still want to “get Blair” which they clearly still do, they need to cast that net as widely as possible.

    They STILL won’t catch him in their fishing expedition, even if they do cast widely. Why? Because Blair does not swim in such murky waters as do his enemies.

    To mix metaphors, if the cap fits, little fishes, wear it. You’re already wearing anyway.”

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    4 Responses to “The BIG (biased) Question – War Crimes & ‘The Downing Street One’”

    1. Tweets that mention The BIG (biased) Question – War Crimes & ‘The Downing Street One’ « Tony Blair -- Says:

      […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Blair Supporter, Blair Supporter, Blair Supporter, Blair Supporter, Blair Supporter and others. Blair Supporter said: @Paulfhyde – Nothing weird about that. Tony Blair is right. He invariably was. The press didn't like it much – […]

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      […] The BIG (biased) Question – War Crimes & 'The Downing Street One … […]

    3. Stan Says:

      This comment at John Rentoul’s site raises another question about that BBC programme and why the question was worded in that way.

      “Having just watched the programme I can now see the cunning little plan behind framing the question in this way. The BBC could claim that the programme met their impartiality rules because there were speakers for and against the question while having nobody there to speak in favour of Blair and the war.

      However the BBC should not be allowed to get away with this since not having someone to answer the charges of illegality and deceiving Parliament etc is a clear breach of the BBC rules, whichever way they will try to defend themselves.

      I, for one, will be complaining to the BBC and I hope that others who believe in the impartiality of the BBC will do the same.”

    4. New Blog Launched: ‘The Feral Press’ « Tony Blair Says:

      […] The BIG (biased) Question – War Crimes & ‘The Downing Street One’ […]

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