BY JAMIE FOSTER
Today I heard the news that the Commons had rejected the SNP’s kind offer to hold yet another inquiry into whether Tony Blair misled parliament in the run up to the war in Iraq. I congratulate the Commons on rejecting this idea. To get to the bottom of that question with any degree of accuracy would require us to bankrupt the country. Anyone who has heard Blair talk about the possibility of us remaining in Europe on the basis of his belief that ‘the people’ may have changed their mind and now agree with him, will know that he is a master orator who will literally say anything to achieve his objective.
The problem with the legal process is that it is essentially a compromise. It works best on those whose interests are sufficiently clear to allow a decision making tribunal of whatever hue to agree that we have got as close to the truth as we possibly can. With Blair any such consensus would be the result of exhaustion rather than a forensic conclusion.
I have no doubt that the ex Fettes boy gilded the lily. He was, after all, the recipient of a £1M donation from the Political Animal Lobby to ensure that the Hunting Act would pass through parliament. His ambition required him to align himself with the neocon project to change the world, and our Tony is nothing if not a zealot. He has a phenomenally capable wife who makes Lady Macbeth look like a rank amateur. He swept to power on a wave so big that even people like Cameron, Osborne and, to my eternal shame, I, thought that he might achieve great things. To be fair he achieved a lot.
The challenge of such charismatic leaders is when they start to believe their own publicity. Charisma is a great motivational force that allows men and women to be leaders. A leader is essentially cover for the team who do most of the work. People within and without a particular political party can do the small things that they feel may make the world a better place, safe in the knowledge that a charismatic leader can take the credit and the blame. There is little wrong with such an arrangement until the leader forgets to credit, in his heart, those who led to the appearance of his legacy.
I am not surprised the SNP wished to take the opportunity to sink the dagger into Labour’s flank. It is, however, in my view, an odd desire, given that an inquiry into the extent to which their leaders misled the Scottish people over the effect of a lost independence referendum would not be advantageous, but the temptation is clear.
I can see why Kate Hoey would support such an inquiry. I like Kate a great deal. She is a fiery and passionate Northern Irish woman and, by all accounts, an excellent constituency MP. I can forgive her affliction with socialism on the basis that she is a good egg. Kate undoubtedly still feels that the con of using the Hunting Act to persuade the left of the Labour Party to enter a ridiculous foreign crusade was a step too far. I can also understand why Paul Flynn, a zealot who took the deal in order to give the toffs a bloody nose, may feel cheated. What I can’t see is how it is in anyone’s interests to go over this ground again.
To indict Blair would be to say that the politicians we elect to high office are so dim that they could be persuaded to vote for a bloody and savage conflict because one man told them they should. Part of the job of politicians is to assess whether their leaders are being straight with them. A call to indict Blair is made on the same basis as his call to remain within the EU. That is to say that the people voted to leave not because they had the intelligence to assess the situation for themselves but because they were conned. I can see why Blair believes such cons are possible. I applaud the Commons for not falling for this one.
I welcome your views, Dear Readers, and thank you for taking the time to read mine.