Letters: At last, Blair admits fault for Iraq, nearly

The following letters appear in the 27 October edition of the Independent

Independent Voices@IndyVoices
Monday 26 October 2015 18:56

In New Labour’s salad days, Tony Blair apologised for every historic British “sin” from the slave trade to the Irish potato famine, with the Guildford Four thrown in for good measure.

But all that stopped when his Iraqi fiasco set the Levant ablaze and undermined every Middle Eastern secular ruler who protected minorities and stood between us and the Islamists.

Finally on a cosy US TV show the permatanned one admitted: “Of course, you can’t say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015.”

I suppose that double negative is as close as we will get to an apology, so Sir John Chilcot can put away his whitewash brush and hopefully David Cameron can steer clear of Syria.

The Rev Dr John Cameron

St Andrews

Tony Blair has apologised for the intelligence information turning out to be wrong, in effect apologising for the failings of others. This has no value and, takes us no further forward.

We remain in an establishment strait-jacket which seems to say that the intelligence report was hopelessly wrong and the process of intelligence gathering was fundamentally flawed but there isn’t the merest hint of “deliberate distortion or culpable negligence”, as contended by the Butler report.

Chilcot, we hope, will at least state the bleedin’ obvious, that Mr Blair chose not to properly validate the reports or decided to mislead the House, although the thought persists that a significant number in the House were all too willing to be misled.

In the event of such a conclusion I believe the sorry matter should be put to bed. I have no desire to see Mr Blair tried as a war criminal, and would certainly not categorise him with those previously tried and found guilty of war crimes. In the absence of such a conclusion I will reluctantly conclude that those in power will always place self-interest above justice and the interests of the people.

Jim Stanley


Tony Blair states that deposing Saddam was worth the Iraq war 0f 2003. Was deposing an aged dictator really worth destroying Iraq’s economy and infrastructure, and the early death of a possible 500,000 of its citizens?

Unfortunately those who died weren’t given a choice as to whether they preferred to live under Saddam’s tyranny or die by Bush and Blair’s liberation. As the vast majority of prisoners who are sentenced to death would prefer life in prison, it is easy to argue that the citizens of Iraq if given a choice would prefer living under the tyranny of a dictator rather than an early death as a result of a Western liberation.

George D Lewis

Brackley, Northamptonshire

Pace John Rentoul (26 October) the real charge against Tony Blair over his decision to go to war against Iraq is that he knew that the intelligence he based it on was flawed, and that he misled the Commons and the British people in order to obtain the backing of the Commons. History will not forgive him.

Laura Kaufman

Horsmonden, Ken

A very peaceful kind of ‘bully’

In your editorial of 24 October, you said of China that it was “a bully”.

If you had said that the US was a bully, the reader might have thought of Vietnam, El Salvador, Iraq. Or if you had said Russia was a bully, the Ukraine, Chechnya and Syria would probably have come to mind. But what you list as evidence of bullying by China is the normal stuff of diplomacy, with the exception of Tibet.

But Tibet was invaded in 1950, only five years after the end of the Second World War, when Britain still had an Empire (arguably itself an exercise in international bullying as great as any in history).

China has maintained a non-interventionist international policy for many years. It should be given proper credit for this, not smeared as a bully because it tries to exercise its influence in peaceful ways.

Michael Hoey

Faversham, Kent

I couldn’t but be amused by Wei-Ling Chang wondering what passed through the Chinese President’s mind when the Speaker of the Commons alluded to human rights (letter, 22 October), pondering what would have passed through Mr Xi’s mind when awarding the Chinese Peace Prize to Robert Mugabe before coming to tea with the Queen.

Ewa Maydell

Milton, Dumbartonshire

Corbyn critics miss the new politics

David Burgess’s letter accusing Jeremy Corbyn of “absolute betrayal” (24 October) itself betrays levels of “confusion” and “turmoil” that more than match anything currently emanating from the Corbyn-led Labour Party.

In referring to Corbyn’s alleged “ineffectual performances at Prime Minister’s Questions”, Mr Burgess is completely missing the substance and seriousness that Corbyn has injected into what was previously akin to a zoo-impersonating public-school debating society. Good on him.

Mr Burgess also fails to understand how, in the emergent new political consciousness, honesty trumps embarrassment every time. Perhaps this is why the rather more intelligent right-wing media organs are showing increasing concern that a Corbyn-led party could do what Justin Trudeau has recently achieved in Canada after 10 comparable years of Machiavellian Conservative rule.

Finally, Mr Burgess’s fanciful notion that Corbyn is “reducing the Labour Party to total irrelevance” comes straight from the right-wing commentariat propaganda sheets, and bears no relation to what is happening beyond “the bubble”, right across the land, where, wherever he speaks, Corbyn’s reception is invariably an ecstatic one.

Dr Richard House

Stroud, Gloucestershire

Liberal Jews seek God beyond gender

We welcome the call by the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek to avoid male language in talking about God (“God is not male”, 26 October) and also your editorial on the same subject.

Liberal Judaism has recognised the importance of the language we use about God and been at the forefront of change for more than 20 years. Our prayer book Siddur Lev Chadash, published in 1995, was the first in Europe to use gender-neutral language about God, using “the Eternal One” instead of “Lord” and “Sovereign” instead of “King”. We also avoid gender language in talking about human beings, referring to humankind not mankind.

Since Hebrew is either masculine of feminine, in our prayer book of 2003, we balanced masculine with feminine, addressing God as “Divine Presence, Source of our Lives”. We are continually engaged in how to address God, who is beyond words and so neither masculine nor feminine but encompassing both.

Rabbi Harry Jacobi

Rabbi Margaret Jacobi

Rabbi Richard Jacobi

New Barnet, Hertfordshire

You say that we can say a prayer asking that the world’s religions should accept gay, transsexual and bisexual people into positions of responsibility, following the remarks of Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, who has reopened a longstanding debate (editorial, 26 October).

The problem is, which god should we pray to? Over the years there have been hundreds, if not thousands of them, and who is to say which, if any, is the right one? There has been plenty of trouble about this in the past, and the present and future do not look much different.

Bill Fletcher

Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Falsely accused of sex abuse

Following your articles on Tom Watson and his words concerning Lord Brittan, I write on behalf of all those who have been accused falsely of similar crimes of sexual abuse and whose cases are not in the public arena. These are the voiceless victims.

We appreciate the difficulty the police and CPS have in finding the right path between giving serious consideration to genuine victims of sexual abuse and, at the same time, having the confidence to dismiss claims which are wild and impossible.

A positive step forward would be to have a statute of limitations on such allegations and to reduce motivation for making false accusations by using financial compensation only to provide for therapy where necessary. This would be in line with other EU countries.

Name and Address Supplied

Citizens or customers?

Three cheers for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (“How little we Brits have left to be proud of in our country”, 26 October). This government’s concept of citizenship is that people are merely customers with no stake other than financial in national institutions which, of course, must become private institutions. Thus no BBC, no NHS etc. If you can’t afford to be a customer you don’t exist.

Chris Elshaw

Headley Down, Hampshire

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