First of all apologies for posting so late on this – but being on a mates stag-do meant that I was incapable until now!
As I am sure most of the world is aware Alistair Campbell suffered a rare ‘loss of composure’ moment on the Andrew Marr show yesterday (see below). Whilst I am sure it made some people happy to see him in such discomfort, it just gave me a sense of unease.
What do we learn and what does it say about us as a society when all we want to do is pin the blame on someone and move on to the next moral outrage? I was against the Iraq war from the outset – I never truly believed that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a clear and present danger to the UK or its allies (though there seems little doubt that it was exactly that it you were a Kurd, the wrong type of Muslim or just someone who dared to publically speak out against his regime). However, I wasn’t in charge of the country – Blair was. He saw it differently, he argued his case, won support in Cabinet, within both the Labour Party and the Conservative party as well as within at least half of the UK population at the time. (If people remember back to the Winter of 2002/2003 the majority of polls were showing an almost 50/50 split in terms of support for any Iraqi invasion.) To just blot-out the facts of this and re-write history so we can have the ‘bad guys’ in one corner and the rest of us good guys in the other is just plain wrong – and of no use if we want to stop an unjust war happening again.
We need to spend less time putting our senior politicians on a pedestal and then being shocked when it turns out they are fallible as the rest of us. Despite what most people think, the majority of politicians are honourable people who go into public service to try to do good. Despite what is touted in some areas of the mainstream press and from intellectually lazy commentators Prime Ministers don’t want to go to war – it costs a fortune, it detracts from domestic policy and, as we have seen in Blairs case, it destroys any hope of a decent legacy – besides which, as I have just said they go into politics to make things better, not worse.
What is needed now is a dispassionate assessment of what happened in the lead up to the war, just as the Chilcot inquiry is trying to achieve. It is the lessons we can learn I am interested in, not the victimisation of those who offered a new dawn, but ended up being just as fallible of us.