By Lindsey German
Like the seedy music hall comedian Archie Rice from John Osborne’s play the Entertainer, Tony Blair has been tempted back onto the political stage. His comeback is being facilitated by the likes of Andrew Marr and the Evening Standard in a series of interviews marking the fifth anniversary of his standing down as Prime Minister.
That’s pretty strange in itself - five years after standing down, deeply discredited and disliked, why should anyone want to listen to him?
Blair has confessed that he would like to be prime minister again. Conveniently he forgets that he was forced out of office three years before he wanted to go. He claims this was because of Gordon Brown’s personal vendetta against him. But, in reality, it was because of his hawkish role in the Lebanon summer of war in 2006. He agreed to stand down in September of that year after a delegation of Labour MPs, fed up with his warmongering, made him an offer he could not refuse.
To even say that he would like to be prime minister again shows the level of unreality which surrounds Blair. No one apart from his closest acolytes would even countenance the idea.
The problem for Blair is that the one issue that he wants to forget – Iraq - is the one issue that everyone remembers. It is the decision which will dog him for the rest of his life.
Everywhere he goes, Blair is met with protests and demonstrations. In Hong Kong recently an anti war protester tried to perform a citizens’ arrest on him for war crimes.
The recently published diaries of his partner-in-crime Alistair Campbell reveal that Blair refused to put to cabinet the full view of his attorney general on the legality of the war. Rupert Murdoch phoned him in the days before the invasion of Iraq urging him to get on with it, and assuring him that the Murdoch press would back him all the way.
Let’s recall Blair’s record on all this. He lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. He refused to listen to his own MPs and to the two million who marched against war in Iraq. He ignored evidence that the war was illegal. He supported the US neo-cons in their determination to invade countries and overthrow governments who they deemed opponents. The death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan are partly a result of his decisions.
Even more revealingly, Blair has never apologised for any of this. He continues with his sanctimonious, pathological justifications in the face of all evidence to the contrary. He has made a great deal of money - his personal fortune is estimated at £50 million. He is envoy for peace in the Middle East, a job description for which he must be one of the least suited politicians.
In that capacity he urges war against Iran, further interventions in Syria and support for Israel in its treatment of the Palestinians.
Blair might be mad to want a comeback. But we would be even madder to allow it to happen. Luckily there are too many people around the world who want to hold Blair to account to let it happen.
Lindsey German is national convenor of Stop the War Coalition. She helped organise the demonstration against the Iraq war in 2003, the largest demonstration in British history. She has also written a number of books including A Question of Class.
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