Caryl Churchill, the greatest of modern British playwrights, is showcasing her new work at the Royal Court Theatre. Love and Information is a dazzling, inventive, unsettling theatrical piece about the mind and reality made up of fast, short, pithy encounters, which come and go as fast as texts and emails, some philosophical, some unhinged, some meaningful, some political, some playful, some very, very dark.
The cast includes EastEnders' Amanda Drew, the talented black actor Rhashan Stone and Linda Bassett, who told me she was a big fan of The Independent and this column. In one memorable exchange, women of a certain age talk about the dangers posed by Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war. [Bush and Blair] "didn't know" says the first woman and her friend replies, "didn't want to know, they wanted it to be true". It goes on playing with the idea of truth wished for and willed, truth made up, gauzy truth spun out of fantasies. The audience shifted uncomfortably and laughed without mirth. It was a timely reminder of how the masters of our universe ignored public opposition, played us, broke international law and got away with it.
They still cut and paste facts to suit them and have remade their reputations with consummate proficiency. Those who backed the catastrophic desert adventure are rehabilitated with a kiss – Blair and his wife, his Cabinet, chief spin doctor Alastair Campbell and Tory and media hawks. Blair is a multimillionaire, so successful in the business world that last week he is said to have earned £620,000 for his help in brokering the world's biggest corporate takeover. On Friday on Channel 4, he was tanned, almost blonde, wore his shirt unbuttoned at the top and a medallion, a stylish spiv look. It suited him well.
Campbell, meanwhile, has a flourishing career and is sought out to comment on all human life and on his deeply-held principles.
Valerie Amos got the international development portfolio when Clare Short later resigned in protest at the way her government was building up the case for war. Amos was sent off to sceptical African nations to get them to back the illegal war, a task she carried out with gusto. Now this war cheerleader is the UN Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian aid and emergency relief. All is forgiven, all forgotten. Christian redemption itself has been duped and dishonoured.
Last week the conscientious and watchful Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Tutu upset that wicked, Western consensus of absolution. He refused to share a platform with Tony Blair at a conference in Johannesburg (for which our man was paid £150,000), accused Bush and Blair of behaving like "playground bullies" and fabricating reasons to go to war. He even called for the two leaders to be tried at the International Criminal Court. Well why not? Why should the court only ever try "darkie" and Commie baddies? Blair and Bush are not Milosevic or Assad, but they have a case to answer in an autonomous court and ought to be held accountable for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed during action and the many more who are still dying every day.
Blair's response to Tutu was typically slippery and soapy: "To repeat that old canard that we lied about the intelligence is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown". The ex-PM then listed Saddam's many horrendous crimes and sanguinely claimed that Iraqi children were blossoming, investments booming and rubies were growing on pomegranate trees. (I added the last, to add more sparkle to his evocative Arabian Nights fable). Perhaps Brits suffering miserably during the recession should migrate to Iraq, now such an oasis of happiness and opportunity.
This month it is ten years since the infamous, discredited September dossier was released. Remember it? The Prince (as in Machiavelli) and his gang of New Labourites told us that Saddam Hussein had the capacity to mobilise weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes. Lord Falconer, one of the insiders, now accepts that the war had little public support and had a "hugely damaging effect" on politics and democracy. He blames the intelligence services for the dodgy evidence and stubbornly still defends the war as if he must or else his body and mind would disintegrate.
The esteemed human-rights lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman agrees with Tutu that the war was illegal and aggressive, breached UN charter provisions and should be investigated by the international court. Pigs will turn blue and fly before that ever happens. God knows how long we have to wait until the Chilcot report is published.
But watching the ease with which all the main figures shook off any suggestion of wrongdoing and manipulation didn't give me heart or hope that the chairman, a career diplomat, will deliver serious rebukes or accountability. And anyway, who cares?
A-level students I went to speak to recently wanted to know why a young person stealing shoes or a bottle of water ends up in jail while Blair and his tribe are not punished and instead get rich.
I couldn't give them an honest answer without dousing their young hearts with cynicism. Perhaps Messiah Blair, now moving smoothly back into politics, will explain why.Reuse content