Tony Blair returns to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war this Friday following certain, ahem, 'inconsistencies' in his earlier testimony, contradicted by former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, and former head of MI6, Sir John Scarlett. Ooh, there's embarrassing. I wonder who's been economical with the actualité.
John Wight has written a scorching account at Socialist Unity which everyone should read for background to Blair's appearance.
Since [summer 2009] a veritable parade of witnesses have appeared, the vast majority assorted ex-government flunkies, civil servants and bureaucrats, along with the usual suspects whose names and reputations will forever be associated with Iraq. How could it be otherwise given that it was one of the most egregious and overt imperialist military adventures ever undertaken by any western country, one that has impacted on society at home in the shape of increased racial, ethnic and religious tensions, attacks on civil liberties and an increasingly corrupt body politic. ...
But it is not just Iraq that Tony Blair will be remembered for. He will also go down as the most right wing, anti trade union and anti working class Labour leader in the history of the Labour Party. Indeed, the amputation of the Labour Party’s founding ethos was performed by Blair with the skill and precision of a surgeon. Where former Labour leader Neil ‘Lord’ Kinnock took tentative steps in a rightward direction, Blair sprinted headlong to jump on the bus marked Thatcherism when it came to his embrace of the free market and the City. Piecemeal reforms were parcelled out to the poor and low paid during the boom years - years in which the richest layer of society saw their wealth go up exponentially while wages for the majority went down in real terms, offset by the easy availability of personal credit. ...
Meritocracy replaced solidarity as the core value of Labour, along with the importation of that old American chestnut of social mobility to justify crippling inequality. His adherence to the Clintonite rightward shift doctrine of social democracy, known as triangulation, turned Britain into a free market paradise for billionaires, corporate executives and financial institutions. Blair’s genius was in presentation, utilising his evident talents as a PR man to sell the process as progressive politics.
But an example of how Blair was given an easy ride last time around was revealed last February by David Hencke in Tribune, where he wrote that, '... Tony Blair was let off the hook during his session because vital documents given to the Iraq inquiry are not being made public'.
Let's hope Blair gets the warm welcome he deserves when he turns up at the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre at Westminster, London SW1P 3EE on Friday, 8am-2pm.
UPDATE: Tuesday afternoon, Sir John Chilcot announces that the government has blocked the release of a note from Tony Blair to George W Bush, evidence crucial to the examination of a narrow but significant area in the build-up to the allied invasion of Iraq. It must be pretty explosive for the Tories to protect the former Labour prime minister. After all, a former PM dragged into the Hague probably wouldn't look good for anyone.
UPDATE 2: The Daily Mail — 'But it is Mr Blair, of course, who emerges in even darker colours, because he was the man who railroaded this country into war — invoking weapons of mass destruction which did not exist (and which he should have known did not exist) and, unless Lord Goldsmith’s testimony is to be dismissed by him as mendacious, misleading Parliament and the public. ... This time, with Lord Goldsmith’s evidence in front of them, they have the material with which to unseat even a customer as slippery and evasive as Tony Blair. ... when a former Attorney General accuses a former Prime Minister of misleading Parliament over so vital a matter, we have entered an important new phase. Sooner or later the seriousness of what Lord Goldsmith has said will sink in.'
Blair War Crimes Foundation: aims to Bring Tony Blair to trial.