There is much not to like about Tony Blair, and when it comes to domestic political issues in particular I share some of the widely held antipathy toward the former British prime minister. But on one thing my mind is settled: here is a man of decency and principle who in committing the UK to military action in Iraq made a tough decision, and the right one in the circumstances.
Blair’s performance yesterday at the Chilcot inquiry began with the shakes, but he soon got into his stride and told it like it was. It’s a shame, then, that the media and public reaction has in large part been to block the sensory organs and bleat on about how Blair failed to show “contrition”. For what need he show contrition – for not being infallible? Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.
The most interesting voices heard yesterday – and yes, more interesting than Tony Blair – were those of Iraqis who expressed incredulity at what was taking place in the Chilcot inquiry and British public arena. Where is your sense of priority?, they pertinently and politely asked us. It’s at times like these that we suddenly turn into a nation of sanctimonious Quakers; at others we’ll happily knock nine bells out of each other.
So spare us the legions of opinionistas from lunatic trots on the left to Max Hastings on the right who call for Blair to be strung up for war crimes. And add to this the silliness of George Monbiot, who at the start of this week used his Guardian column to incite readers to assault Blair in the street. I can quite understand Iraqis scratching their heads at such bizarre antics.