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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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Hutton: Blair's Rummygram on battlefield WMD and the BBC's unused case

If you want to persuade folks to lend you money, better show yourself free with it. Conspicuous consumption implies wealth.

Tony Blair is powerfully in need of a dollop of public trust: but, to prove how much of the stuff he already has, he lights a cigar with a whole bunch of it.

Blair is now saying - in yesterday's Commons debate - that at the time of the Iraq invasion, he did not know that the WMD that was supposed to be deliverable at 45 minutes notice was battlefield weapons, not long-range missiles.

And Hapless Hoon, for good measure, says he knew - but only because he'd asked out of curiosity.

Feel the Teflon on that! Blair seems to be saying. You want a prime minister who's lucky? Stick with me. (Pun very much intended.) Whatever the snafu, I get through.

(Or, from the other side of the coin, look what a complete shower the opposition are: even when I screw up on an epic scale, they can't lay a glove on me!)

There was a time when Bush deployed genial Donald Rumsfeld for this sort of exercise. For instance, at a vital moment in Blair's campaign of persuasion to get the British people and parliament to go along with the war, Rumsfeld piped up and said that the US could do it on their own.

(I have the impression that these gratuitous poke-in-the-eye monkey shines from Rummy have been less in evidence lately.)

Meanwhile, we learn that the BBC's lawyer at the Hutton Inquiry, a guy I seems to remember not having been frightfully impressed with, Andrew Caldecott QC, supplied the Beeb with a 135 page dossier of his own, detailing the legal flaws in Hutton's Report, as ammunition for a fightback.

BBC bigwigs preferred to adopt the fetal position, sending acting Chairman Richard Ryder out with a white flag. (The suggestion is that the lower ranks are not mightily amused by their masters' throwing all this expensive ammunition overboard.)

I can't see the corporate worm turning - Charter renewal oblige - but I suspect that some of the hacks are planning one kind of sortie or another.

The mild-mannered and ineffectual James Cox on The World This Weekend on Sunday, referring to a bleat from Acting Director-General Mark Byford on the need for 100% accuracy, pointed out that if they waited until they were sure of that, there'd be precious little news broadcast - or words to that effect.

If Cox is insubordinate on air, what might feistier characters be up to?

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