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24th January 2011
TONY BLAIR AT THE IRAQ INQUIRY
What? You mean you’re actually reading this stuff? All this
self-Blair-serving nonsense? I suppose you’re sharp enough to see past the bias, lies and agenda. Impeccably trained by our press, literati and intelligentsia you are well up to picking out the juicy bits and running with them? But of course.
As if, eh?
I WAS THERE. WERE YOU?
So here’s my take on the day, for what it’s worth.
(Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures)
When I emerged from the Tube at Westminster ready for the Inquiry I realised I’d forgotten my watch. What time was it? It didn’t take long to find out.
I had plenty of time to walk the few hundred yards to the QEII Conference Centre. Looking at some of the architecture of our ancient capital I was once more astounded by its beauty, as I always am. A conversation about this and British culture itself followed later in a sanity break when I met a man who said he used to be a Lib Dem, but was no more. He told me that Blair’s Britain was now a far better place than it had been before he took over as PM in 1997.
“TONY BLAIR- WAR CRIMINAL”
As I approached the QEII Conference Centre I expected to hear the usual suspects yelling the usual lies.
I wondered for a moment if they’d forgotten. How COULD they. Here was the “greatest war criminal” of the century – yes, I know it’s only started, but hang about a bit, Blair’ll be the worst, sorry … greatest!
The so-called WC was in the QEII Centre already, beating his enemies for early rising, and they were still lying in bed! Fair enough. They lie everywhere else. But how could they let the side down?
They were in fact there, if you looked hard enough.
Corralled in their multitudes on the pavement behind a fence to the left of the Centre, this time there were far fewer of them. I guessed somewhere between 40 and 50. At best, as the day progressed and they started to wake up, perhaps a quarter or a third of last year’s couple of hundred. They soon let us hear their megaphoned voices of moral rectitude, international law, right and justice, lies and all the usual righteous wrongness.
INQUISITION ROOM CONFERENCE HALL
Back to the important business: Mr Blair’s evidence.
[As an aside to this, there is a BIG QUESTION. No, not that one. That’s a stupid question, and proved so in the debate today. The Big Question I refer to has a BIG ANSWER too.
The big question is just how a former Prime Minister of this country, who, in the opinion of many at home and abroad served his country with unusual distinction, inspired dedication and determined commitment for a decade, finds himself standing so low (allegedly) in the court of public opinion.
Some time ago, before the Chilcot Inquiry started, as the present hounding of Tony Blair moved into top gear, I described the process as ‘The Trial of Tony Blair’. I blogged on that concept regularly (list here)
Nothing that has happened since then makes me feel that his hounding and ‘trialing’ has actually eased up. If anything it is getting worse. And its proponents, who mostly deserve sidelining as misguided, embittered or hypocritical are even seen as entirely balanced and reasonable people. Their demands for a war crimes trial are now demands to which the BBC has given air-time, and therefore credibility.
Bit by eventual bit, the idea takes root that Tony Blair is the great Houdini of our times. The Pimpernel. We know he exists, but – now we see him, now we don’t. And we know he did something (wrong), but Houdini-Pimpernel is invariably off before we can hold him to account.
The pre-judgement on Blair over Iraq is ‘guilty as charged’. The pre-judging is largely if not wholly press-inspired and liberal intelligentsia-led.
No matter how ignorant, misguided, misled or simply wrong that “public opinion”, the willing gullible swallow it. We are led to believe that this man, our former great and good prime minister, was as bad as – no, worse than Saddam Hussein.
So the BIG ANSWER to the Big Question is – the press. How else do we know anything about anything? More on this at a new blog which I intend to start soon.]
ARRIVED AND LEFT THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR
Last year Mr Blair came in through a back entrance, even though he arrived just after 7:00am. This year, arriving just before 8:00am, he came through the front door.
I know these little things can sound inconsequential. They’re not. He was there and no doubt reading through his notes when I arrived before 9am. And outside the yellers yelled and the placards waved.
SO HOW DID HE DO?
In my opinion, and that is all I have – like the rest of us – an opinion, Tony Blair did very well.
WAS HE NERVOUS?
He didn’t seem at all nervous, as some said he seemed at the start last time. For what it’s worth I didn’t think he seemed all that nervous last time either. I was also there then [See “I was a witness”]. But let’s get this one clear: he was nervous. Inside, if he didn’t show it. Who wouldn’t be?
I have read his memoirs and was surprised at how “scared ” he admits to having been on several occasions throughout his life as a barrister and as a politician. In his last PMQs speech to parliament he said, memorably, of Prime Minister’s Questions – “From first to last I always feared it”. This is not a man detached from normal human emotions. Not some ham actor playing a pleasant part, while in reality an inhuman monstrosity. Nor is he someone who at the behest or under the influence of A N Other became an unfeeling monster after 9/11, hardening still as his embattled leadership continued and eventually waned.
We really need to get a grip on this tendency to puerile fantasy.
I noticed he spoke rather quickly at the start of his evidence session. I put this down to his being ready to get on with it, though nerves may well have been part of it. But he was ready for it, and never crumbled under questioning.
This session had no lunch break, but there were two ten-minute breaks only. It ended at exactly 2:00pm, as scheduled.
Same as last time I only got a ticket for the Additional Hearing Room, a 5th Floor room, smaller than last time. Some might say “why bother to go”. You can see it all on TV anyway.
But you need to be there, in the vicinity, to get the full atmosphere. I was glad I went, not least because I met other Blair supporters, one of whom, a pint-sized young lady, took on a chanting placard waver and “Tony Blair War Criminal” stuck needler with – “He’s not a War Criminal”.
I missed this as I was inside at the time. But good on her.
These chanters and wavers of various assorted interests need to be held to account for spreading their LIES as truths.
And we Blair supporters are the only ones willing to make them accountable. The press won’t. Unlike their treatment of Blair, the press seldom question their positions. They fail to even investigate their political roots and their various groups’ membership.
I also met members of bereaved families. Their anger is easier to understand and accept. However I do not believe that their anger is shared by all family members of deceased soldiers. In fact I KNOW that anger isn’t shared by all of them.
You may notice something here at the biased BBC’s report on the death of the 100th solder in Iraq, January 2006. The BBC article does not mention anything about “a disgrace” from the proud parents of the soldier whose death headlines the article. But they still manage to criticise Blair by using the unhappy comment of a mother who DID complain about her son’s death, the 99th, as it happened a day earlier.
The Additional Viewing Room had probably less than 100 people present. Last year there were four or five times that number. Take from that what you will.
As to the questioning by Chilcot’s panel and Mr Blair’s answers, and my own reservations, including unanswered queries to the Inquiry itself, there is more to say.
To be continued …
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
“All countries need a leader who isn’t afraid to fight terrorism. I believe Mr. Blair did a necessary job in helping his allies. Are we all just supposed to lie down and wait for them to come for us, I don’t think so.”
And – “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the privilege of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”
AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”
AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is an honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”
Tags: Big Answer, big ben, Blair Supporter's Thoughts, Ignore this, Iraq, Iraq inquiry, iraq war, John Chilcot, media bias, parliament, pictures, please, Prime Minister's Questions, QEII Conference Centre, Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Saddam Hussein, TB's 2nd appearance at the Iraq Inquiry, the press, Tony Blair, war crimes, war criminal