Update: Welcome Iain Dale readers.

Just to add that at the funeral of Zoran Djindjic Robin Cook represented the UK. He privately told some of the assembled foreign dignitaries how we was about to resign from the government two days later over Iraq, as indeed he did.

Robin Cook did not resign because he was against the principle of intervening against Iraq – after all, he had been a great supporter of the Kosovo intervention. He resigned because he thought it was politically unacceptable to send UK forces into battle when a good proportion of the UK public were likely to be very unhappy about it.

Which is why in the end Tony Blair has the problems he now has. It is just not enough to identify the right thing "in one’s mind" (see below) and then pursue it regardless of how the facts and arguments are marketed.

Mrs Thatcher’s ‘convictions’ may not have appealed to everyone, but she did not tell untruths or spin the facts or ‘sex up’ dossiers in her struggle to pursue them.

A politician is paid by the electorate to think in different terms?

* * * * *

Lots of comment (mostly negative) about Tony Blair’s attempt to re-position himself on Iraq:

"If you had known then that there were no WMDs, would you still have gone on?" Blair was asked. He replied: "I would still have thought it right to remove him [Saddam Hussein]".

Did Anthony Seldon really write this curious one? It seems to make no sense. Maybe it was part of something said down the telephone to a journalist which was then unhappily transcribed?


Everyone tends to rewrite history and he is not having the opportunity to say what the real version of events was.

He was dealing with someone who was an evil dictator and that was the right thing to do, in his mind, because what was at stake was world peace. In another sense he has been remarkably consistent and I think is tremendously frustrated at not having the opportunity to say that.

Huh? He has had more opportunities than anyone else on earth to use the media say what he thought about all that. His problem perhaps is that he said one thing back then, and a different thing now?

I have a very clear idea of what is in his mind and what he is thinking about and the overriding feeling is one of frustration. He also has a sense of moral conviction in what he is doing: he is a 19th-century kind of figure like William Gladstone. For them, moral conviction in foreign policy was core.

Well, as we all know, it is not enough to be Right. You need to be Convincing, the more so if you are putting the lives and money of UK citizens on the line.

His spirituality in this context is centred on the parable of the Good Samaritan, which he has quoted in speeches. That says that we cannot cross the road if we see suffering on the other side of the street.

He saw Iraqi suffering at the hands of Saddam Hussein and believed that it was his duty to not cross the road.

Sorry. I just do not follow that at all.

With fervent Labour supporters like Brian Barder baying for war crimes charges, Mr Blair must feel somewhat isolated these days:

… There was no need to go to war when we did, whether or not we did so with legal authority.  The majority of Security Council members wanted the inspectors to be given more time before there needed to be a decision — by the Council, not by Washington or London — that the time had come to use force. 

Even if you accept the Goldsmith-Greenstock argument that resolution 1441 gave authority for the use of force (which few legal experts do), it doesn’t mean that using force when we did was justified;  the case for regarding it as tragically premature is overwhelming.

Continuing to denounce Blair for having committed us unconditionally to war many months before the decision was first announced will only muddy the waters:  Blair has a strong defence against that charge.  It will be more effective to concentrate on the issues where, anyway at this stage of the Inquiry, he has little or no defence available. 

He took us to war when it was unnecessary and inadvisable to do so, and probably in breach of international law into the bargain.  That’s quite enough to be going on with.

If you say so.

Yet in a democracy we all get the chance to vote. And the British public endorsed Blair’s Iraq policies by re-electing Labour when they next had the chance.

We are all guilty.