John Rentoul, Tony Blair’s biographer and mini-me, and politics editor for the Independent, added another disingenuous denial that Blair and his associates were dishonest about Iraq last September. This time he echoed Blair’s claim that “every independent analysis” has found he did not lie about Iraq (1). Rentoul helps out by specifying what these supposedly independent analyses are
‘Foreign Affairs select committee inquiry, 2003.
Intelligence and Security Committee inquiry, 2003.
Hutton inquiry, 2004.
Butler inquiry, 2004.
General election, 2005.’ (2)
Yet not one of these supposedly “independent” inquiries was actually independent at all – they were all headed by appointees of Blair or had a majority of members appointed by Blair’s government.
The heads of the Hutton and Butler inquiries were appointed by Blair, who also decided what powers they would have, what their remit would be (i.e what they could as about) and what evidence they could and could not see. Not surprising then, since the accused got to appoint the judges, decide the charges and limit what evidence they could see, that the accused was found not guilty on all charges. If all trials were conducted that way, no one would ever be found guilty of anything no matter how much evidence there was of their guilt.
Parliamentary Select Committees like the Foreign Affairs and intelligence and Security Committees have MPs as members, in proportion to the number of MPs of that party in parliament. As Labour had a big majority after the 2000 General Election, that would mean that in 2003 the majority of MPs on those committees would be Labour – and so not inclined to criticise their own party leader too much. On top of that, in 2003 Select Committee members were still appointed by party leaders – so all the Labour members of those committees were appointed by Blair, so would not be rebels on Iraq. Most other MPs on those committees would be Conservatives – and the vast majority of Conservative MPs voted for the war. So the idea that these were independent inquiries is utterly ridiculous.
Citing the 2005 General election is particularly ludicrous, as an election is not an inquiry into anything ; and as no British general election in the last century has been decided by any foreign policy issue. Many people who voted Labour in 2005 were completely against the Iraq war and thought Blair had lied about it, but voted Labour as they thought Labour were less bad than the Conservatives on domestic policies.
It seems that the Independent newspaper’s politics editor doesn’t know the difference between independent inquiries and political fixes – at least certainly not where his hero Tony Blair is concerned.
(1) = John Rentoul ‘Eagle Eye’ blog 5 Sep 2012 ‘Monbiot: the big coward’,
(2) = Observer 02 Sep 2012 ‘Tony Blair should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu’,