Adrian Hamilton: Don't let Libya distract us from what Blair did

Share
Related Topics

A terrible thought has struck me. Could the excitement over the war in Libya serve to make Tony Blair look less awful and deprive the Chilcot inquiry of what little sting it may have when it finally publishes later this year?

Of course the Government, and the many MPs who supported military intervention, argue that this time is different, that they have learnt the lessons of Iraq, sought proper UN sanction and eschewed action on the ground.

But that's not the point. We're back to all the high moral stances and jingoism of "humanitarian intervention". My fear is that, after all this, the appetite for finally pinioning Tony Blair as the man who wrongly took us to war in Iraq and sold all principle and dignity in grovelling to Colonel Gaddafi will be dissipated.

Not that the Chilcot inquiry has that intention. Just the opposite. It is a classic establishment exercise in playing a potentially explosive ball into the long grass of prolonged hearings, conformist members and restricted terms of reference.

While carefully avoiding the blame game, however, the inquiry might still be expected to make some pretty scathing conclusions about the manner in which the Iraq invasion was sold to the public, the quality of advice given and the manner in which the occupation was planned.

Now it will all seem a bit of a throwback. Worse, judging from the Libyan enterprise, none of the lessons of the last war have been learned or are likely to be. Behind the present bluster we seem to be as caught out by events, as ignorant of the Arab world, as confused about where we go next and as incapable of managing military ventures out of our own resources as ever we were. One hopes that this occasion turns out better but, should it not, you can bet that we will never face up to the issue of responsibility.







The council is bullying me into being virtuous

April doesn't just bring in a new tax year but, this time round, a succession of missives from the local council demanding new practices with rubbish collection, and threatening dire action and fines if we don't obey.

Bins MUST be put in front of the property, not just inside the entrance, and not before 8pm the previous evening. Lids must be shut with nothing poking up above. White paper goes in one bin, but brown paper in another. Plastic bottles will be recycled but NOT THEIR LIDS.

In the run-up to this night of the new discipline, the local council in Somerset has been going through our rubbish, putting anything misplaced back in the bin again. At our local tip I was made to clamber into the container to retrieve a piece of terracotta vase I'd thrown into "non recyclable". "You're lucky," said the totter in charge. "If this were next month you'd be paying a thousand quid."

All this has given rise to the usual outrage from the popular press as examples of the nanny state, etc. But it's not that which worries me so much as the attitude of mind it betrays. You would have thought getting people to recycle was a worthy communal object in which the participant might be encouraged to feel virtuous. Not a bit of it. We're made to feel recalcitrant delinquents who have to be harassed and fined into virtue. David Cameron's Big Society doesn't stand a chance if local councils have anything to do with it.







There are much better uses for a referendum

I hope referendums in general don't become the casualty of next month's ill-timed vote on AV. It may have seemed a good idea at the time, when the political air was full of the clamour for an end to huge Commons majorities and the third party seemed to need a better break. Now it looks like the wrong question at the wrong time.

That shouldn't mean they're regarded as a bad idea in principle, however. British politicians and commentators hate them, of course – partly out of fear of the results. There's an assumption that they should be restricted to major constitutional questions.

The opposite is the case. Their real value in reconnecting voters with government is at a more local level – on issues of taxation, development and services. How much better it would have been, for example, if London ratepayers had been asked if they were willing to pay an extra charge for the Olympic Games instead of it being added to their bills.



React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Most powerful woman in British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans  

Yet again, the economy is the battleground on which the election will be fought

Patrick Diamond
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders