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Tony Blair's last 24 hours?

 
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2004 12:32 pm
I agree McTag. Much as Blair would like the wmd issue to go away, it wont. You can't go to war on a false prospectus and hope no one notices. The problem for Blair, I think, is that disarming Iraq by force formed the legal basis for the invasion. No wmd means no reason for British troops to be in Iraq. So Tony Blair will never admit there are none, no matter how absurd he looks.

But also it serves a useful purpose, as you can never fully prove a negative so Blair can say "keep on looking" for as long as he wants. And while we are wasting time on non existent wmd, the real reasons for invading Iraq become obscured by time and increasingly a matter for historians.
0 Replies
 
Laptoploon
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2004 05:13 pm
McTag wrote:
I think it will turn out to be a pyrrhic victory.

Nobody here likes what happened. A whitewash, yes, and a sideshow too. Blair still told untruths in Parliament, and carried a vote to go to war. We may never know whether he knew he was fibbing, or whether he was just happy to relay some bilge he had been told. Either way, it's a scandal of major proportions, and we are being fobbed off with an inquiry into a sad suicide and some dozy BBC management.

We need to debate the main fact.


Thatcher did all you have ementioned above and took two more victories. You think the "diminished" electorate will do differently?
0 Replies
 
Laptoploon
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2004 05:20 pm
Steve (as 41oo) wrote:
I agree McTag. Much as Blair would like the wmd issue to go away, it wont. You can't go to war on a false prospectus and hope no one notices. The problem for Blair, I think, is that disarming Iraq by force formed the legal basis for the invasion. No wmd means no reason for British troops to be in Iraq. So Tony Blair will never admit there are none, no matter how absurd he looks.

But also it serves a useful purpose, as you can never fully prove a negative so Blair can say "keep on looking" for as long as he wants. And while we are wasting time on non existent wmd, the real reasons for invading Iraq become obscured by time and increasingly a matter for historians.


It's all a trick, smoke and mirrors....Thatcher went to war over the Faklands, she didn't need to but selling the lives of British soldiers ensured her victory, not once but twice. Whilst this was happening Brits were sneering that Galtieri only went to war to kep the Argentinian electorate happy.

Funny if it were not so sad.

Is today any different? Only by dint of the dates and names.

Two minds but with a single thought.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 02:43 am
I don't see too many parallels between the Falklands and Iraq, as far as the perception of the electorate is concerned anyway.

In the case of the Falklands, we were taking back what we thought was rightfully ours. No-one here questioned the legality of that, only the method of execution. And, we didn't need to kill any civilians.

Funnily enough, just as Brits typically get more exercised over pets than people, I think the BBC affair may turn out to be as damaging to Blair in terms of votes than this illegal and immoral "war" will be.

As a footnote to that, I recall that after the Falklands campaign, Thatcher managed to portray herself as a successful war leader, a modern-day Boadicea. Any chance of that now for our Tone, disregarding the necessary sex change? Don't think so.
0 Replies
 
Laptoploon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 04:52 am
McTag wrote:
I don't see too many parallels between the Falklands and Iraq, as far as the perception of the electorate is concerned anyway.

In the case of the Falklands, we were taking back what we thought was rightfully ours. No-one here questioned the legality of that, only the method of execution. And, we didn't need to kill any civilians.


The Falklands need never have happened. Thatcher engineered it. Just a couple of years previously Argentina played the same game and Callaghan sent a couple of gunboats to dissuade them and that was it. Thatcher was fully aware of this, she had all the inteligence necessary to act in a similar way and chose not to. In fact if inaction was an olympic sport she'd have taken gold.

Quote:
Funnily enough, just as Brits typically get more exercised over pets than people, I think the BBC affair may turn out to be as damaging to Blair in terms of votes than this illegal and immoral "war" will be.


What exercises me over this is the breach of trust by the BBC. I have always relied on the Beeb to supply me with accurate unbiased reportage. Not only did they not in this case but they lied to cover their "mistakes" and that just isn't acceptable. That trust cannot be rebuilt whilst those responsible remain in their jobs. This is a serious stain on the integrity of Auntie and a wee bit of house cleaning is very much the order of the day.

Quote:
As a footnote to that, I recall that after the Falklands campaign, Thatcher managed to portray herself as a successful war leader, a modern-day Boadicea. Any chance of that now for our Tone, disregarding the necessary sex change? Don't think so.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 05:07 am
The Economist's take:

BRITAIN'S prime minister, Tony Blair, had an extra spring in his step this week. On Wednesday, an independent inquiry cleared his government of responsibility for the suicide last summer of David Kelly, an expert on Iraq?s biological-weapons programmes. Instead Lord Hutton, the senior judge who conducted the inquiry, rained blows on the British Broadcasting Corporation. A BBC radio journalist who had accused the government of ?sexing up? its case for war (ie, the threat posed by Saddam Hussein?s weapons of mass destruction) on the basis of an off-the-record meeting with Kelly had actually sexed up his own report, the inquiry found. Heads are rolling at the BBC, which until this week had doggedly refused to apologise fully for its report (see article).

But Mr Blair?s smugness may not last long. Many Britons are aghast that the government got off scot-free. The real question, they say, is why Mr Blair insisted before the war that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, when none have been found.

This was not directly addressed by the Hutton inquiry, which was narrowly focused on the nature of the BBC report and what drove Kelly to suicide. Tantalisingly, Lord Hutton declared only that intelligence chiefs might ?subconsciously? have tailored their conclusions to fit Mr Blair?s interest in a strong case for war. Michael Howard, the leader of the main opposition party, the Conservatives, and Charles Kennedy, head of the next-biggest party, the Liberal Democrats, are both calling for an independent inquiry into the case for war?especially whether it was exaggerated by the government. Downing Street has shrugged off the cacophony, saying that the matter has already been satisfactorily investigated by foreign-affairs and intelligence committees. Both essentially cleared Mr Blair of accusations of exaggeration.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 05:13 am
And on Auntie (sob)

FEW institutions are as central to the life of a nation as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is to Britain?s. ?Auntie?, as the British press dub the venerable old lady, dominates the airwaves with eight national television channels, ten national radio stations, and over 50 local-radio channels. These churn out everything from top-rated soaps and award-winning comedies to lavish costume dramas and hard-hitting current-affairs shows. The BBC?s World Service radio has won worldwide acclaim for bringing impartial and reliable news to corners of the globe where the press is shackled by repressive governments. Since most Britons who read newspapers buy one of the country?s salacious tabloids, the BBC has become the nation?s principal news source: an ICM poll last year found that no less than 93% of the British population had tuned in to the BBC (including its hugely popular news website) in the first two weeks of the Iraq war.

But now it would appear that the BBC?s reputation for journalistic excellence, built up over more than eight decades, lies in tatters. On Wednesday January 28th, Lord Hutton, a senior judge, condemned the BBC?s editorial controls as ?defective? and excoriated it for allowing one of its reporters, Andrew Gilligan, to make an ?unfounded? and ?very grave? allegation against Tony Blair and his officials and then failing to investigate properly the government?s complaints about it.

Lord Hutton was handing down the findings of his inquiry into the death last July of David Kelly, an expert on Iraqi weaponry at the British defence ministry. Kelly killed himself shortly after being exposed as the source of a report by Mr Gilligan accusing Mr Blair?s office of having knowingly inserted dubious claims in a dossier the government published to help justify the war in Iraq. While clearing Mr Blair and his officials, Lord Hutton criticised the BBC so severely that its chairman, Gavyn Davies, and director-general, Greg Dyke, resigned. The BBC?s governors apologised ?unreservedly? for the corporation?s errors, at which Mr Blair declared himself satisfied.

Though the BBC has now issued an apology acceptable to the prime minister and has promised a tightening of editorial controls, the matter is unlikely to rest there. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is conducting a review of the BBC?s charter, which expires in 2006. Lord Hutton?s criticism of the BBC board of governors (for relying on the management?s assurances that Mr Gilligan's report was accurate rather than conducting a full investigation) has led to calls for them to be stripped of their powers of self-regulation, and for the BBC to be regulated by an outside body such as Ofcom, which supervises commercial broadcasters.

The Hutton inquiry?s findings raise other fundamental questions about the way the BBC is run, and by whom. Who chooses the chairman, governors and director-general, for example. It seems ironic now, but when Mr Dyke and Mr Davies were appointed both were seen as Blair cronies?both had made donations to the prime minister?s Labour Party. This may have been a contributing factor in the battle over Mr Gilligan?s broadcast: both BBC bosses were presumably keen to show that, whatever their political affiliations, they would not cave in to government pressure; thus they may have been over-hasty in rejecting the government?s complaints. As with many other appointments to nominally independent public bodies in Britain, the prime minister appoints the chairman and governors, and the governors in turn choose the director-general.

Mr Dyke?s performance at the Hutton inquiry was unimpressive?it transpired that he had failed to get on top of the issues surrounding Mr Gilligan?s broadcast until weeks after the government first complained. This raised the question of whether, as the chief executive of such a sprawling empire, the director-general was in a position to exercise his role as editor-in-chief of the BBC?s journalism. Shortly before Lord Hutton?s report, the BBC announced the appointment of Mark Byford, a senior news executive, as deputy director-general, with a brief to oversee editorial standards and complaints (he is now having to act as director-general following Mr Dyke?s departure). Though presented as an innovation, such editorial oversight had been the deputy director-general?s main role until managerial changes in the 1990s.

Neither the ?new? deputy?s role nor the BBC?s promised revamp of its editorial guidelines will guarantee there will be no repeat of last year?s running battle with Mr Blair?s office. Ever since the General Strike of 1926, when the government of the day was tempted to seize control of the BBC to ensure more favourable coverage, the broadcaster has come under attack from politicians. The BBC earned its reputation for journalistic impartiality through its honest reporting in the second world war, but that did not stop it coming under attack for ?disloyalty? during most of Britain?s postwar military crises?Suez, the Falklands war, the Northern Ireland conflict, and now the Iraq war. Such is the BBC?s pre-eminence as a national opinion-former that it is bound to continue coming under such political pressures, whatever organisational changes it now undergoes.

Many of the world?s other august journalistic organs have suffered, and survived, similar scandals. In the past year or so, the New York Times has been humiliated by revelations that a star reporter had fabricated stories; and Le Monde, a French daily, has faced (and strenuously denied) allegations of political and financial corruption. Often, it is hoped that a new set of editorial guidelines, or perhaps the appointment of a powerful new editorial director or ombudsman, will ensure that no such embarrassment happens again. But most journalism is necessarily done in such a rush that news bosses have to trust their reporters to get the story right. Pressure on reporters to come up with ?scoops? means that, every so often, they will screw up, as Mr Gilligan did. The BBC will survive, and most likely recover its reputation?already, polls taken in the wake of the Hutton report show that, while the corporation?s image has taken a severe knock, the British public still trust it to tell the truth far more than they do Mr Blair?s government.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 06:13 am
The obvious difference between the Falklands and Iraq wars is that Thatcher had to go to war to save her neck, whereas Tony's little campaign was purely optional.

Thatcher was finished unless she got those islands back, and that meant invasion. (I have always thought it was a plot by the foreign office and the old Tory patricians to get rid of her. i.e let the Argies invade on her watch, she would have to resign to be replaced by an older 'wet'style one nation Tory. Trouble is she chose to fight...not only to get the islands back but to keep her job...that wasnt in the script)

Of course winning the war didn't do Mrs T any harm electorally. But even I'm not so cynical as to suggest she had the war to win the vote.

Tony's crusade against the infidel, though successful militarily, will end up sinking him politically.

But I have to admire Tony's political skill over Hutton BBC etc. In my view the non existence of wmd was a huge embarrassment as soon as we were able to take a look see in Iraq. But Gilligan presented them with an open goal, and Campbell made damn sure the ball went in the back of the net. Now Blair/Campbell can go around saying I have been found not to have lied. But only a fool would think this means they told the truth.

In fact the idiot Gilligan made a small but crucial error. He should never have said they sexed up the dossier with information they probably knew to be false. [How could he possibly know that they "knew" it was false?]

This is where the allegation is found unproven. Hutton found that Blair did not know the information was bullshit, and it was wrong to suggest he did. But Hutton made no comment on whether it was in fact bullshit.

Blair made honestly held assertions about what he truly believed to be the state of Iraqi wmd (so Hutton said). The big issue here as we keep pointing out, and as Blair wants to move away from asap, is the fact that his honestly held beliefs and assertions turned out to be rubbish.

Just thought of an analogy.

Father says to son, clean the car and there's a chocolate bar in that box for you. Boy cleans car, opens box, no chocolate.

Father says I am concerned about the apparant non existence up to this point in time, of chocolate. It is possible that it will be found eventually. But in the meantime don't you dare call me a liar as I sincerely believed there was some when I asked you to clean the car. (boy leaves home to live with grandparents)

voters leave Tony to wander around aimlessly
0 Replies
 
Laptoploon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 08:06 am
LOL, good ending to an interesting post Steve.

BTW, I am sufficiently cynical to see little difference between the actions of la belle Maggie and Galtieri.

The Any Questions panel were asked "If, as it seems likely, no WMD are found, and as this was the basis for war, who, if anyone, should resign"

Interesting question.
On the one hand the government might well have over-egged the pudding to make the case. If that's true, never mind resignations, we should have a general election.
On the other hand if it's a failing in the intelligence community (and frankly I believe that to be the case) then a cull of certain civil servants should be in order.

I do wonder though how much of the UK's intelligence assessments were based on "facts" fed to them by the US and how much on their own independent sources.

What we need is another inquiry with a much broader scope.
0 Replies
 
Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 12:57 pm
Glad to keep you laughing Laptop

I dont think it was a failure of intelligence. I think the intelligence services probably presented Blair with a pretty good and balanced picture of Iraqi wmd as of 2002/3. It is after all their job. The prime minister doesn't just want the stuff that confirms his views. He demands the truth (or bloody well should do) as best it can be known. He then strips out the inconvenient bits before a report is presented to the public "based on credible intelligence sources."

I think people are naive if they think the intelligence reports as presented to the prime minister bear much resemblance to the intelligence presented for public consumption.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 01:23 pm
I heard "Any Questions?" on the radio too.

Someone posed: a journalist makes a report which is partly wrong, and he and his bosses have to resign for not checking their sources.

A Prime Minister makes a statement to the House which turns out to be wrong, and takes the nation into war, and nobody resigns.

We shall see.
0 Replies
 
Laptoploon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jan, 2004 02:06 pm
McTag wrote:
I heard "Any Questions?" on the radio too.

Someone posed: a journalist makes a report which is partly wrong, and he and his bosses have to resign for not checking their sources.


Had it been that simple I, for one, would have no axe to grind with the Beeb, but it wasn't. Gilligan deliberately "sexed-up" his report. Firstly his report never suffered the gaze of an editor(had this been late breaking news that might be excused) although he was broadcasting the day after his meeting with Kelly. That's bad, but what is worse was the subsequent seige mentality that ensued. Suddenly it became defend Gilligan right or wrong. Auntie isn't about defending a particular journalist, it's about truthful reportage, or it was up until this case.

Quote:
A Prime Minister makes a statement to the House which turns out to be wrong, and takes the nation into war, and nobody resigns.

We shall see.


I think the major difference is that I can, if I chose, punish Blair and/or his government at the ballot box if i think they have lied to or misled me.
I don't have that "power" over the BBC, even though I am obliged by law to fund them.

The main problem, as I see it, with the current set up is that the Governors act as both management and regulator - never a good thing
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2004 01:56 pm
Our Own Dear Loon wrote:
The main problem, as I see it, with the current set up is that the Governors act as both management and regulator - never a good thing


We've had exactly that problem with the New York Stock Exchange, and some other fiduciary trusts here--i could not agree more, and would suggest that there are too many such organizations in the world, and long past time to end the party.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Feb, 2004 03:21 pm
So, what I found really interesting about this was - of course ;-) - a poll. Blair was redeemed, right? Proven to be an honest bloke, after all? And the BBC was humiliated. So you would think the polls show a shift of people believing Blair again instead of the Beeb. But not. The only net result on public opinion is an increased cynicism. They still dont believe Blair for a second. But now they dont believe the BBC anymore either.

YouGov, 21 July 2003:

Quote:
Who do you trust more in the row between the BBC and the Government [..]?

The BBC 54%
The Government 18%
Don´t know 28%


ICM/The Guardian, 30 January 2004

Quote:
31% of voters trust the BBC "more" to tell the truth. This contrasted with 10% who trust the government more [..]. A total of (7%) trust both. [nimh: that leaves 52% who trusts neither or doesn´t know]
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Laptoploon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Feb, 2004 04:05 am
nimh wrote:
[nimh: that leaves 52% who trusts neither or doesn´t know]
[/quote]

Given the turn out at the last GE, it's probably apathy that has captured the remaining 52%
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Steve 41oo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Feb, 2004 05:57 am
I suppose I have to be careful what I say from now on. It is apparantly against the law in this country to suggest that the govt. knew what it was doing when it produced the September 2002 dossier on Iraq's wmd. I don't know which is worse, to opt into a war to demonstrate our loyalty to the United States, or to send our troops into battle as a necessary consequence resulting from an honest mistake.

Its a bit like someone saying yes we did tell you to invade Iraq. But it was a mistake, we meant Iran. Mr Bush was looking at a map upside down. Its easily done the wmd are in Iran not Iraq, its only one letter different, and the two countries are right next door to each other. We didn't deliberately send you to the wrong country, you must believe we were sincere. And dont suggest otherwise or YOU ARE IN BIG TROUBLE.
0 Replies
 
 

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