Friday, 29 January 2010

Chilcot coming back - will Blair slip up?

Rows and rows of pubic queuing quietly in the damp to get afternoon seats for the Chilcot inquiry as I come back into the Queen Elizabeth hall. Some family of the fallen soldiers amongst them.

Chilcot and Freedman (the historian who advised on Blair's Chicago 99 speech that was referenced in the morning)came through the crowd like a couple of gents on the way back from a lunchtime pint.

Blair appears to have conducted himself with some calm authority during the morning session. He turns each question to what he wants to talk about with the old "if I could just say" and "it's important to understand..."

Unless he makes some huge display of contrition or there is some disruption this afternoon he is on course for a command performance of I did it my way.

His message is certainly not contrite. When he asks us to imagine 2010 with Saddam still in power - with WMD capacity, with oil at $100 a barrel, and the international community losing its nerve - he is basically asking us to be thankful that he took the hard road to war in 2003.

He's also warning the world that it faces the same decisions all over again with Iran. Time and time again he has warned that Iran is involved in destabilisation in the middle east, has links with fundamental Islamists, and is going flat out to acquire nuclear weapons.

He batted away most of the serious questions on the 45 minute warning, the intelligence briefings and the opposition within cabinet. He insisted there was no deal signed in blood with Bush but that he said publicly and privately that he would go to war if sanctions and the UN route failed. Some will call that unrepentant Blair. Some in the Labour party will look at the way he's handling this pressure cooker and wonder why they ever got rid of him.

He does though face difficult questions on the legality of the war, I'd say, and needs more cross-examination of this issue of removal rather than disarmament.

Ach, I've just been offered a seat in the inquiry chamber but I'm going to have to write and listen all afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. The main thing I got from today was how bitter the BBC still are over Hutton. They just made a hero out of guy who heckled with no hint of balance when he was being interviewed. Time they grew up.