29 January 2010

Blair is playing a blinder

Within 30 minutes Blair had stamped his authority on the Inquiry and won the power battle with Sir Roderic Lyne.

Remember what David Miliband once said:

In six months time people will be saying, wouldn't it be nice to have that Tony Blair back.

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  1. What Blair is saying is mostly irrelevant. It is from a well-rehearsed script.

    What is critical is how this relates to the evidential record, and the questions the Inquiry asks.

    Already Blair has been caught out in a lie, claiming the 2002 "options paper" considered three options when in fact it only considered toughened containment or regime change.

    There is also evidence of selective release of documents by the government to skew the evidence and the narrative. Chilcot resisted reference to one particular document as it presented "only one side" but Blair brought it up anyway, so it had to be released. Despite this, the (damaging?) Blair-Bush notes are not being declassified, despite the fact these are of UK origin.

    There is one other factor - the headlines. This session will define the inquiry. It appears that Chilcot, Lyne etc are mindful of their reputations, and are trying to get to the facts. The public reception of Blair's performance will shape the future inquiry, including future hearings (Blair will return) and possible declassification by a Conservative government.

  2. I am referring to his performance, which is masterful and very coherent. Blair is on top of his brief, referring to documents with ease and always one step ahead of the Inquiry.

    Blair is not there to answer on the details and the Inquiry recognises this. He is there to deal with the principles of the policy that he followed.

    It is NOT the government that declassifies the documents but the Cabinet Secretary. There is no conspiracy here, as some are suggesting.

    The more important session is to come when Blair deals with the legality and the post war phase. This are where Blair is most vulnerable.

    As to the headlines. They last five miniutes. The public and media interest in the Inquiry will fade after today until Gordon Brown appears.

  3. Blair was bumped downwards in quite a few papers because of some sportsman's extra-marital antics. However, the general picture across the media reinforces the public perception of an evangelical and unrepentant man who can admit no wrong and who is a stranger to the truth.

    I am sure Brown's performance will be lamentable...shifty and sulky is my guess.

  4. You are right about Brown, that is for sure.