Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kinnock: "What the hell is a Labour Prime Minister doing with George Bush?"

I have just been watching the first part "The Rise and Fall of Tony Blair" on Channel 4.

It was a remarkably clear summary of Tony Blair's period in office up to 2004. There was an exceptionally qualified cast of interviewees including Condeleeza Rice, Andrew Card, Stephen Wall, Sir David Manning etc as well Labour figures including Jack Straw, Neil Kinnock and David Blunkett. There was also 'Bazza' or Barry Cox, a family friend, who was very frank.

So it was a very authoritative account, also bearing in mind that it was narrated by Andrew Rawnsley, who has a reknowned knowledge of "New Labour".

A few things stood out for me.

It was made clear, in a way that I had never appreciated before, how Blair's success in getting the US on board to win a victory in Kosovo gave him confidence and a belief that he could sweep all before him in international affairs. That confidence was later to lead to over-confidence in relation to Iraq.

Watching the clip of Blair in the Commons mentioning the "45 minutes" made me realise that this clip will be Blair's epitaph. It really encapsulates the shattering of the trust in which people held him.

It was telling to hear Stephen Wall describing a conversation with Jacques Chirac about the proposed Iraq invasion. Chriac said that he had been a soldier in Algeria and knew the horror of war at first hand. He said that if Blair/Bush invaded Iraq they wouldn't be welcomed and they would start a civil war. He added that they shouldn't mistake the Shia majority for democracy.

Wall said that Blair came out of the meeting with Chirac saying "Poor old Jacques doesn't get it, does he?" As Wall commented, events proved that, in fact, Jacques "got it" and Blair didn't.

Neil Kinniock talked with considerable passion when he described the incredulity of Labour stalwarts that Blair got so close with "above all people - George Bush". In the trailer for the next programme, this sentiment is expressed with even more exasperation by Kinnock with these words, presumably describing the views expressed by Labourites:

What the hell is a Labour Prime Minister doing with George Bush?

1 comment:

  1. It really doesn't seem likely that Blair will be prosecuted. Having played a direct role in an invasion on false pretences which has led to killing hundreds of thousands of people, this is mildly astonishing.

    It's also astonishing that - although Blair is widely hated - there aren't louder calls for him to face justice.

    Why is that, I wonder?