Friday | July 11, 2003
It's time to go, Tony:Clare Short-BBC
By Steve Gilliard
In what is clearly a shot across the bow of Tony Blair, former International Development minister Clare Short says Blair should resign before he's forced out.
While she may be jumping the gun by a few weeks, does anyone really think this won't get uglier by the day?
Quit before it gets nasty, Blair told
The former minister said the prime minister had seen himself as "a kind of higher mortal than the rest of us" and had decided it was acceptable to "slightly fool" the public in making decisions over Iraq.
He had been guilty of "half-truths, slight deceptions, exaggeration" in the run-up to the war, she said.
Ms Short added: "I'm sure he's convinced that what he did was right but I'm also sure that he fooled the country in a series of ways in a way that's intolerable when it's a matter of war and peace and human beings' lives and the future of a country."
Ms Short said: "There's two good years until the next election. We'll see how this plays out. I think the best solution for Tony would be if he planned to move on before it gets ever nastier."
This is obviously not going to get any better for Blair or Bush. Once you admit to one lie, a series of lies will have to be admitted to. Bush lied and is tossing the blame on Blair and MI-6. Even Whitehall is backing away from the claim of a WMD program.
Short may be seen as a stalking horse for Gordon Brown, Blair's chief rival in the Labour Party, but she's right. Even the capture of Saddam would only delay the inevitable upheaval over the clear lies told about the need to go to war.
Changing the story to talk about the poor dead Shia, impresses neither the Shia or much of the British public. No one liked Saddam except his cronies. Deposing him was a moral act. But the ends do not justify the means. If a government is not credible, if it's leaders will lie to wage war, the most important act a state can undertake, they have no credibility.
You cannot make mistakes of fact in the Commons or in the SOTU. The Congress, the Commons, the general public must believe in your credibility. How can the revelation of a lie about the development of nuclear weapons be defended by anyone of conscious or written off as mere partisanship. It is a serious matter, which should be beyond politics. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Blair, for whatever reasons, thought removing Saddam would be the same as ending the wars in the Balkans. But it isn't. It is turning into a bloody nightmare. It may well be justifable to remove Saddam and the 69 other dictators misruling their people. But freedom cannot be given. We cannot give Iraqis English or American freedom and expect gratitude.
Blair thought he could bet that Saddam was both evil and stupid. He's evil without question, but he is not stupid. He dumped his weapons and played the US and UK. Now, that there is no weapons, not even the dubious hope of a nuclear program, which was thought fanciful at the time, and is now revealed to be a rusty centifuge under a suburban rosebush. My God, what could they find in Lambeth Heath or Alexandria? A nuclear reprocessing plant?
Instead we have given Iraq anarchy and colonialism. That is not an acceptable outcome in the EU, the Middle East or in the UK. It was not what was promised and it is not what is expected. Blair and Bush do not have the right to deceive to enact a war. No matter the reason.
Once one deception is revealed, others are sure to follow. While Blair will ignore Short's counsel at this point, he may do well to remember her words later on. They are not born of hatred or contempt, but of a reality. A PM who cannot be honest with the Commons, much less the people they serve, is unfit to be a member of that body and must, ultimately, leave. The only question is whether he leaves with dignity or in disgrace.Posted July 11, 2003 02:31 PM