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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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Blair's 45 minute problem, like Kerry's putative tottie, in the deep freeze

I'm fairly certain there is a literature - probably larded with MLA-speak and calculus - describing the system of news: the way the various actors in the process cause a particular story to ferment, unnoticed by the mob, until it surfaces with a bang, describes a parabola in attaining its apogee of flight before eventually crashing beneath the surface.

Topics may survive for ages - in the UK in the 1970s, one apparent perennial was union domination [1] - but stories are doomed to disappear. (If the same actors and the same issues crop up again, that will be a different story because the world will have moved on.)

So, the story that was the release of the Hutton Report is now dead. And the topic of the quality and use of Iraqi WMD intelligence has no representative in the news arena in the UK right now.

The Guardian intel man Richard Norton-Taylor pointed out (February 18) that, (almost) in the immortal words of Gerry Adams, it hasn't gone away, you know:
The government is deluding itself if it imagines a scandal of this magnitude can be made to disappear.

And that must be right.

We have, at the very least, one more crack at the subject - when Lord Butler reports (around July, according to RNT). And activity amongst Congressional committees - and (in what could be UK election year) the White House intel inquiry - could well launch another 45 minute story or two.

Of course, it'll not be the same next time: Blair will have suffered a few more months wear and tear (dicky ticker and all); but the public may well be bored with the whole thing: We bought the T-shirt last time, we know Blair is a terminal liar, let's move on. Chances are that intel woes will be strictly for wonks from now on. So the apogee of any new stories just won't be that high.

And the way the blogosphere works, mostly: no press-pack [2], no blog-juice.

I'm therefore distinctly dubious about getting out my 45 minute set out of the toy-box: which is a shame in a way, because a skim down the Hutton material (collected at the link to the left) will suggest that that, from the most cursory examination of the evidence given to Hutton, the whole 45 minute intel business was an Ealing comedy. One of the late ones, without any laughs.

We'll see...

  1. Which feels now as if it went out with the high-button boots. An early example of the genre is the 1854 Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay - online here.

  2. Or, at least, no member of the Big Media willing to stick to the task of point-man.

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