The Blair Charge Sheet

On the 21st January the UK’s Channel 4 news had a discussion about the fact that the long-awaited Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the illegal war in Iraq will not be released until after the general election in March. On the 29th January a sizeable group of demonstrators protested outside the Houses of Parliament against the continuing suppression of the Chilcot Report — now five years late. Whilst this story was covered on Russia Today, not a single mention of it was made on the BBC’s six o’ clock news. None of this is surprising: both Labour and the Tories were complicit in authorising the unlawful adventure in Iraq, therefore neither will want the unhelpful publicity the inquiry might generate.

In the Channel 4 show, John Rentoul was appearing representing Tony Blair’s position. Mr Rentoul is apparently Blair’s biographer. If there’s one book that’s surely not worth the paper it’s written on, that must be it; because Mr Rentoul’s spirited defence of Blair suggested very strongly that impartial record-making is not likely to be much in evidence in his book. For Blair is surely the most evil person that Britain has produced in recent times, and anything that suggests otherwise is being very economical with the truth. The award for most wicked monster in modern times was undoubtedly held by Margaret Thatcher, until Blair came along. Let’s consider some of the more obvious charges against him.

When he was first brought to power in 1997, it was because the country was sick to death of years of Thatcherism (the “austerity” of its day). Margaret Thatcher was primarily responsible for starting the ruination of Britain, as it was she who began the plundering of public assets (selling-off public utilities such as British Rail and British Airways, British Gas and British Telecom), and the killing-off of Britain’s manufacturing base – the main source of the nation’s wealth. Thatcher was unquestionably a monster, but at least she never seriously pretended to be anything else: she was, after all, a Tory. If you vote Tory that’s the sort of thing you should expect to get. Blair, on the other hand, was quite different: he was also a traitor. In 1997 people voted for him in their millions expecting traditional Labour values to scrap the years of painful plundering, and a fresh start to rebuilding the country. What they got was yet more and more painful plundering. So that’s the first major charge against Blair: his utter betrayal of British voters in general, and Labour voters in particular.

Then, of course, came the illegal war in Iraq in 2003. We’ll possibly never know the full truth behind Blair’s involvement in this, but that he was hugely complicit in what was unquestionably a massive war crime is beyond doubt. So that’s the second charge against Blair: he’s a war criminal.

Those two charges are more than enough to ensure the man is forever reviled – on a par even with the worst of the worst Nazi war criminals. The Nazis could at least have pleaded that there was no historical precedent for such a thing as war crime. Nuremberg eliminated that excuse. In other words Blair, who is a trained lawyer, should have known full well he was committing a war crime. He just didn’t care. His hubris is such that he clearly deems himself above the law.

However, there’s something else that must not be forgotten, a charge that is arguably even more serious than the first two. When Blair ordered a country that was mostly opposed to war to subordinate itself to the American war criminal George Bush, he immediately signed the death warrants of 179 British military personnel and, which is even worse, ordered tens of thousands of British military personnel to become war criminals themselves, just like him. Although it’s highly unlikely that any British soldier will ever have to appear in a court of law to face such charges, the fact is that in theory at least they could. In theory, every man and woman who took part in Bush’s illegal war could be charged with committing a war crime; because Nuremberg ensured, rightly, that the plea of “just following orders” is no longer an acceptable excuse for taking part in the greatest abomination that human beings are capable of committing: war.

If there were such a thing as real justice Tony Blair should spend the rest of his days behind bars, and there are plenty of others who should join him.

John Andrews is a writer and political activist based in England. Check out John's books: Fiction: The Road to Emily Bay; Non Fiction: The School of Kindness and The People’s Constitution. Read other articles by John.