Richard Ingrams’s Week: Blair must be quizzed over Bush's biblical crusade

Saturday 02 January 2010 01:00

I have expressed doubts on more than one occasion about the Chilcot inquiry and in particular whether the panel will consider the crucial role of the American neocons and political links with Israel.

Even less likely will be any attempt to look further into the recent extraordinary claims made by the former French President, Jacques Chirac, who has given details to a journalist of a conversation he had with George Bush prior to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

After appealing to him as a fellow Christian, Bush went on to inform him: "Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled. This confrontation is willed by God who wants this conflict to erase his people's enemy's before a new age begins".

Puzzled by what no doubt seemed to him the ravings of a lunatic, Chirac consulted a theologian at Lausanne University, who referred him to chapters 28 and 29 of the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament. There, one reads of God raging against two malevolent forces, Gog and Magog, who are threatening the land of Israel. God vows his revenge, promising Gog and Magog; "I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort and to the beasts of the field to be devoured".

Being a sensible, pragmatic Frenchman Chirac did not rally to Bush's biblical crusade. But the question arises: is it not likely that the President would have appealed in similar terms to Tony Blair? Not only did they share the same faith but they were known to have prayed together on one of Blair's many visits to America? When Blair finally gives evidence to the Iraq inquiry ought not Sir John Chilcot put the question to him "Mr Blair, did President Bush ever say anything to you about Gog and Magog?".

The scandals that never happened

From the various official papers released under the 30-year rule you would not gain the impression that 1979 was a year of sensational political scandal.

All we have been told is that Mrs Thatcher, who beat Jim Callaghan in the general election that year, is revealed as a forceful, even bossy prime minster who had a low opinion of some of the "wets" in her cabinet. As if we didn't know that already.

But according to an intriguing report in The Guardian, a number of papers have not yet been released and these include those dealing with scandalous allegations about politicians made by Private Eye.

A good glance through the Eye's archives raises a number of likely candidates for censorship, notably a series of articles dealing with the close relationship between the Labour prime minister, Jim Callaghan, and his financial benefactor, the Welsh businessman Sir Julian Hodge, a man who began facing charges of fraud over a pyramid-selling swindle that impoverished West Indian immigrants.

Then there were further disclosures about Harold Wilson's all-powerful secretary Lady Falkender and her great friend, Sir Eric Miller, who had previously faced charges of fraud and committed suicide. Miller financed Wilson's political office during his second premiership.

The most sensational political event of 1979, however, was the trial at the Old Bailey of the former liberal party leader Jeremy Thorpe, shown on the cover of Private Eye.

It is not every day that the leader of a British political party is put on trial for conspiracy to murder. It just seems rather a pity if there is nothing in the records about it.

Queen's award for an unforgivable catalogue of blunders

Among the various nonentities in the New Year Honours List one name stood out – and not for the right reasons. It was that of Cressida Dick, assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, who was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for distinguished service.

Ms Dick, is famous for being the officer in charge of one of the most disastrous operations ever undertaken by the police force – that which led, after a series of grotesque and inexcusable blunders, to the shooting of an innocent Brazilian electrician, Jean Carlos de Menezes, at Stockwell underground station in July 2005.

She has yet to admit that the killing was anything more than an unfortunate mistake, although "horrible", of the type that is likely to occur when there are dangerous terrorists about. She actually said as much at the inquest in October last year, predicting that such a fiasco could well occur again.

After one of her officers had given what looked very much like perjured evidence (for which he has never been called to account), she even suggested that de Menezes had been unintentionally to blame for his death as he bore a strong resemblance to the man the police were looking for – this after the police had doctored one photograph in order to support their case.

As for the catalogue of blunders and the savage killing of an innocent man, "we did nothing wrong" she proclaimed.

The police authorities lamely agreed, as shortly after the shooting she was promoted. Presumably the Queen also agreed, for why otherwise has she given Ms Dick this special medal? Insiders, according to one report, "pointed out that the award could easily have been delayed for years to avoid controversy"– the hope being, presumably, that by now those hopeless idiots, the public, would have forgotten all about Stockwell.

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