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Until it came to Iraq, Tony Blair was the consummate persuader. And he was at his most demagogically persuasive when he blamed a national moral malaise for the murder by two children of two-year-old James Bulger. Indeed, this speech helped to propel him to the Labour leadership and thence to No 10. So it's a bit rich for him to say now, in response to the recent riots, that he was wrong, and that moralising in this way was "good politics, but bad policy". Bad policy it may have been, but it did a great deal to help him win the prize. If you want to play the counterfactual game, you can't stop halfway through the argument.

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