They'll applaud anything down there in Brighton

To be fair, Blair's weird ramblings aren't confined to the issue of Iraq
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The Independent Online

I'm glad Tony Blair didn't apologise. Because it would have been one of those meaningless apologies, like the one a little boy does when he's told to say sorry for jabbing his sister with a cactus, a sort of "huh, all right then, sorry but anyway the intelligence made me do it". Whereas, if he wanted an apology to match the chaos and destruction he's helped to create, he should have appeared in front of a huge backdrop of a burning Fallujah, dressed as Frank Spencer and whining, "Hmmm. Ooh dear, I seem to have caused a spot of trouble."

An apology would be especially futile, as he's intent on carrying on in exactly the same way as before. He's like a bloke who says to his best mate: "I'm sort of half-sorry but I've been shagging your wife, but I think it's time you put all that behind you and give me your full support while I carry on giving her one."

Even he has to admit that the case he made over and over again, that the war had to be fought to rid Saddam of his deadly weapons, has been proved to be bogus. So he excuses himself by reminding us: "The whole world believed this." The whole world. Except for the United Nations, the leaders of France and Germany, all of Africa, almost every Arab, the weapons inspectors themselves, one and a half million marchers in London, the Pope, the Dalai Lama and Cat Stevens.

Justifying his original position has become so untenable his statements become increasingly surreal. For example, parts of his speech went: "Caring isn't about caring. Its about doing what you think is right and sticking to it." I believe Fred West followed a similar doctrine. How can caring not be about caring? Are there similar rules for other activities ? If you fail your driving test, can you appeal on the grounds that "driving is not about driving, it's about knowing where you want to go and not being afraid to run up the kerb and knock over a pram"? Perhaps in the original draft he was going to follow the bit about caring with "and weapons of mass destruction are not about weapons of mass destruction. They're about sand and ancient temples and swords and they had all these, proving me right as usual".

He spoke as if opponents of the war are not bothered about terrorism, but never addressed the fact that there were no terrorist groups in Iraq before his war, and now there are loads. He didn't mention the torture in Abu Ghraib. Or offer any answer to why, if the aim of the occupation is to liberate Iraqis, a majority of Iraqis wants the troops to leave. For anyone troubled by this, the advice is to accept he means well and try to put it out of your mind. If Blair met Ken Bigley he'd say: "I understand that you feel upset, what with being taken hostage and everything, but the best thing you can do is to draw a line under it. Bye bye then."

To be fair, Blair's weird ramblings aren't confined to the issue of Iraq. One of his pledges to the British people for a third term ended: "life expectancy up, cardiac disease down". For which there was a huge round of applause. Presumably because that confirmed the party's radical policy on life expectancy and cardiac disease. You see, under Old Labour the policy was: "We shall not rest until life expectancy is back to what it was in the 14th century. And yes, we've got infant mortality up to one in three, but we must do more."

And his attack on the Liberal Democrats began by quoting Charles Kennedy as saying many people don't yet know what they stand for. Blair added: "Charles - don't go there." Was this some sort of attempt to appear cool to 18-year-old girls? Perhaps Gordon Brown will try to trump him with a speech that starts: "So Michael Howard like, says he'll cut taxes and I'm like, hello - oh, like you can so not do that without first ensuring sustained economic growth so he answers back and I'm like, yeah whatever."

The other attacks on the Liberals were that they would increase tax on the rich and be soft on asylum-seekers. Maybe the plan is to save money on posters at the next election, by using old Tory ones. But once again there was loud applause.

The reasoning seems to be that whatever you think about the inferno Blair has helped to create, we should get behind him because of what he claims to have done for working families. Just as those that organised the Roman Empire, or the massacres of native Americans, or slavery, told their domestic population not to worry about anything happening abroad as they were being looked after. There was probably a minister in the Spanish government in 1570 who said at the start of his party conference: "Oh the Incas are just a fringe issue."

And Genghis Khan in his keynote speech at one conference said: "I know there are some of you who feel it was wrong to rampage across Mongolia, burning villages and slaughtering tribes. But the main thing is we've created lots of opportunities with our 'trainee horde Sure Start scheme' and families can be lifted out of poverty by claiming up to £9 a week in Peasant Family Tax Credit," to which there was loud applause.