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

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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits