Richard Ingrams’s Week: Tony Blair's reputation is safe from destruction

Share
Related Topics

Not used to speaking in public, civil servants give themselves away as soon as they open their mouths. Sir John Chilcot, the dark-suited respectable figure selected to head Gordon Brown's inquiry into the Iraq war, was determined to talk tough when he launched his investigation this week.

After all, there had been a great deal of scepticism in the press, and more than a few MPs had expressed doubts about the composition of the panel – no military or legal experts, two Jewish historians thought to have been in favour of the war and a token woman, Baroness Prashar, whom few people had hitherto heard of.

This is how Sir John expressed his determination to show all the critics wrong. "If we find that mistakes were made, that there were issues that could have been dealt with better, we will say so frankly."

He might have been the chairman of the parish council looking into an apparent discrepancy in the annual accounts – not an illegal war which had resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people.

It was not surprising in the circumstances that Tony Blair should have expressed himself quite happy to give evidence to the inquiries.

But supposing he told a lot of lies? "If someone were foolish or wicked enough to tell a serious untruth," Sir John replied in his sternest possible voice, "their reputation would be destroyed utterly."

It doesn't seem to have occurred to him that Blair has already been shown to have told a lot of lies to Parliament, the Hutton inquiry, etc. But his reputation has never been higher. He is earning huge sums of money on the lecture circuit and on Wall Street, and he may even become the first ever president of Europe.

So much for the sanctity of life...

It was Trotsky who famously referred to what he called "the Papist-Quaker babble about the sanctity of human life". It was a view shared by his one-time colleague Stalin who bumped off millions of people including Trotsky himself, murdered with an ice pick in Mexico in 1940.

With all the emphasis on the Holocaust it is often overlooked that Hitler, equally contemptuous of Papist and Quakers, pioneered euthanasia for the mentally disabled and physically deformed. Eminent German scientists were happy to co-operate in the experiments.

If there is still a Papist-Quaker babble, then it is growing fainter day by day. More valued today than the sanctity of human life is the rather woolly notion of death with dignity – despite the fact that death is scarcely ever a dignified affair, and least of all when you are helped on your way by a man in a white coat in Switzerland.

Our politicians would never dare to speak the language of Trotsky. But in a society which values everything in terms of money, euthanasia (voluntary or otherwise) is bound to appeal more and more because it saves the state large sums currently spent on care of the elderly and ill.

I very much doubt I will be around, but I would bet that in 20 years' time, euthanasia will be as widely practised in this country as abortion is today.

Number-crunchers rule education

Dr Ken Boston, the head of the QCA (the body responsible for the schools curriculum), recently resigned after the Sats fiasco of last year. Boston is an Australian who in addition to his salary, reported to be bigger than that of the governor of the Bank of England, was allowed six flights a year to and from his native land. Why there was no suitable British candidate for the job was never explained, as apart from anything else it would have saved us quite a lot of money.

Anyway, Boston has now been replaced. His successor is a man called Andrew Hall, of whom few readers will have heard. Hall is a chartered accountant who according to our education correspondent Richard Garner has held several leading management jobs in multinational companies.

It may seem strange to some that a man with those qualifications should be given the quite important task of deciding what is to be taught in schools.

They fail to realise that education is nowadays viewed as fulfilling a vital economic role. The QCA sees itself as having what it calls "a pivotal role in helping the UK become the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world".

Any old-fashioned ideas about education being an end in itself which helps children to live a fuller and richer life – nothing whatever to do with economics – have long since been discarded. Or as the formed education minister Charles Clarke once elegantly put it: "Education for education's sake is a bit dodgy." In such circumstances it is only fitting to have a high-flying chartered accountant to organise the timetable.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
Rebekah Brooks after her acquittal at the Old Bailey in June  

Rebekah Brooks to return? We all get those new-job jitters

John Mullin
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future