The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, June 04, 2003

In one bound, Teflon Tony was free....

It's the nature of the world of pols and hacks that it can fool the suckers (oops, voters) into confusing theatre for reality.

Case in point: back on March 18 there was a vote on the war in the House of Commons in which a record 139 Labour MPs voted against their government (my piece of March 19). Yet, as the piece explains, the anti-war Big Mo had already dissipated in the Commons. It was after the Lord Mayor's Show - only good for the roses.

The earlier vote on February 26 - when the tally against was only 122 - would have caught the tide in the affairs of men on the back of which the war might have been stopped. Except, of course, that that would have required the Conservatives opportunistically to oppose the war, which inexplicably they refused to do.

Just recently, the pols and hacks have been getting their knickers in a twist over the use that Tony put intelligence on Iraqi WMDs. In particular, statements to the effect that Saddam had some such weapons that could be readied for use within 45 minutes.

Overnight, one of Blair's attack-dogs, John Reid (don't ask) suggested there were rogue elements in the UKIC griping about the use of intelligence material [1]. A Guardian piece (June 4) suggests ten killer questions to ask Blair.

Were they asked? The BBC kindly provide a blow-by-blow account of the day's Commons proceedings on WMD intelligence - look for yourself!

If I am underwhelmed by the whole furore, it's because, like all the other times Blair has come under pressure on the war, he was never in any danger. Why? The Independent (June 5) gives a clue in its first par:
Labour MPs were warned yesterday that criticising Tony Blair over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq could cost the party the next general election.

The war is water under the bridge: nothing any Labour MP does now can prevent it happening (whatever their druthers might be). No point throwing good money - or political capital - after bad.

On the other hand, the next general election is still to come: with Labour having such a large majority in the Commons, many MPs could expect to lose their seats if there was a decent swing to the Tories. And having a judicial enquiry they voted for brand him a liar in the runup to that election could only make the chance of such a swing more likely.

Only if the proverbial smoking gun appears from out of the blue - and there must be shorter odds for winning the lottery! - will it be politically advantageous for Labour to ditch Tony B Liar. In that case, not only would it be a fait accompli for Labour MPs, but they would not be the assassins that compassed his (political) death. The next Labour leader would scarcely be handing out top jobs to those who brought down his predecessor.

Big boys' rules....

  1. For a flavour of the fun: transcript of interview with the legendary John Humphreys on June 4's Today programme.

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