Blair – Our Man in Baghdad?

Send Blair to be Our Man in Baghdad I have to admit that the bicycle story put me off my stride. I was just settling down to pronounce on the tenth anniversary of Blair's premiership, and I was preparing for a dithyramb of destruction. I wasn't going to rain on Tony's parade; I was going to be a one-man hurricane of hatred, pouring squalls of cold water on anyone so foolish as to claim that Britain had got better on his watch. I was going to call upon my army of readers to form a giant conga and dance on the political grave of A. C. L. Blair, and then I was going to invite the hand of history once again to feel the shoulder of this glistering-toothed charlatan, and then I was going to tell that hand to move along a few inches and feel the collar of this Dome-constructing, peerage-selling, dodgy-dossier-authenticating lackey of George W. Bush; and just as I was about to wring his withers one last time for his failure to improve our schools, for the continuing shambles in the NHS, and for the near-destruction he seems to have wrought on the ancient union between England and Scotland - just as the steam was starting to puff from my ears like a kettle - my eye fell on the newspaper. It was a story about cycling, a good news story, and for a minute or two I was completely taken in. It said that there were more cyclists in London than ever before. Since I love cycling, I was excited. The numbers were up vastly on last year, said the story, and 83 per cent up on 2000. I thought of all those people, and the pleasure they are getting from swishing silently through the sunlit streets, entirely the masters of their own speed and destination, and without adding any more carbon to the upper air than a pedestrian; and I reeled back, wondering how I could fail in some way to credit this to the Labour hegemony. I flung wide my window here in Westminster, and I could feel my wrath abating. Yes, Britain still seems to be here, after 10 years of Tone. The chestnut trees are still producing their lovely candles, and it is still true that there is nowhere on earth more beautiful than Britain in early May, and yes, there are indeed flotillas of gaily-coloured cyclists sailing down the streets, and for one pathetic moment I was so entranced that I almost relented. I was on the verge of qualifying my attack, and noting that Tony Blair did not entirely disgrace this country on the international stage. I might have added that he had considerable powers of charm and persuasion, and that he could at least speak in clear declarative English sentences, and that he showed signs of a sense of humour. And then I looked again at the scene before me and - pow - I saw what I fool I was. Cyclists! I'll tell you why there are so many more cyclists on the streets of London, and it's nothing to do with the happy, confident eco-friendly ethos of the Labour government. You show me a Londoner who has recently converted to cycling and I will show you someone who is a refugee from the Tube - not just because the Underground is now an armpit-nuzzling inferno of heat, but also because at the back of the mind of many new cyclists is fear. They fear that one day it could be them sitting next to the psychopathic "martyr" who believes he has only to pull the rip-cord and he will be surrounded by the 72 black-eyed virgins of paradise and their 144 welcoming hands. It's not delight that impels the new cyclists; it's necessity leavened with terror, and at the thought of that fear, I am afraid my rage returned. How can we say that Britain has improved? The risk of terror is so much greater that air travel has become a nightmare of queueing, a Tube journey involves constantly squinting at anyone with a rucksack, and in spite of all the erosions of liberty - the 4.2 million CCTV cameras, the restrictions on trial by jury, the extensions of detention without trial - there are still apparently 2,000 people who pose such a threat to our society that they are being kept under constant surveillance. And why are there so many middle-class, fish-and-chip-eating, cricket-playing British Muslims who seem to want to murder their fellow Britons, 10 years into the Blair premiership? Yes, I am afraid it is his fault, and it is time we all admitted that the latent poison of Muslim alienation and disaffection has been potentiated by the war in Iraq. Blair cannot escape the blame for a disaster in which at least 60,000 (and possibly 10 times as many) Iraqis have died, and which is causing 40,000 Iraqis to flee the country every month, and what gets me is that he won't join me, and others who voted for it, in admitting the truth. It wasn't that the execution was somehow faulty, and that we failed to plan for the aftermath, as Geoff Hoon suggested yesterday. The whole enterprise was fatally flawed, and what is so infuriating is that we have never yet succeeded in bringing Blair before Parliament and confronting him with the reality; and what he doesn't understand is that his persistent denial, his insistence that black is white, is just making matters worse. He yesterday blamed al-Qa'eda for the civil war, and though it is true that the organisation is now involved in Iraq, it is also true that Osama bin Laden and his chums were nowhere to be seen in Iraq until the allied invasion. Every time he glides over what is going on, he sounds more insouciant, more indifferent to the deaths of Iraqis, and more provocative. So I have a plan. Better than sending him off on his lecture tour to America, Gordon should immediately appoint him Our Man in Baghdad, where he could use those skills, honed in Northern Ireland, to heal the rift between Sunni and Shia. Iraqis would see that he did really care about them and their government. In the face of this personal effort and sacrifice, Muslim anger around the world would abate. Yes, it's goodbye Tony, and hello Lord Blair of Baghdad. If it's good enough for Prince Harry, it's good enough for him.

33 thoughts on “Blair – Our Man in Baghdad?”

  1. The union between Scotland and England is hardly ancient. It only predates the declaration of American independence by seventy years. The ancient kingdom of Scotland is much older.

    On a completely different subject, I wonder if Boris is as infuriated as I am about the middle classes parking their Chelsea tractors in our cycle lanes?

  2. Boris, me duck, Tony is just one in a long line of tory leaders who will be forgotten within a couple of years of leaving office. Hatred – deep, bowel-churning, frenzied hatred is reserved for those like Margaret Thatcher (although I can’t think of anyone else in that particular category) for whom grave dancing tickets have sold out several times over.

  3. The main reason more people ride bikes is because under Labour no normal minimum wage person can afford to Run a car let alone pay the congestion charge, and the way the price of public transportation is going up no one can afford to use that so it’s bike or walk.
    I am lucky that i don’t have to work in London as i have a bad knee can’t ride a bike and can barely walk 200yards as i damn sure can’t afford to pay the congestion charge everyday on top of my Tax, Insurance and Diesel.
    It’s a joke and it’s not getting any funnier.

  4. Latent poison of Muslim alienation and disaffection?

    Firstly, it isn’t Muslim alienation and disaffection that is the problem, but a reactionary supremacist minority Islamist “cult” that is recruiting the malleable and weak into its ranks – using whatever is fashionable (Bosnia, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, slags in discos, democracy, binge drinking etc) – who are then brainwashed into alienating themselves from our society.

    Secondly, if there is anyone that Muslims should be alienated from it should be the Islamists, who are responsible for blowing up markets full of Muslims in Iraq or killing Muslims in Afghanistan for the crime of teaching girls. Radical Islamists kill more Muslims than they kill any other group.

    Lastly, the idea that Islamist terrorism is a latent poison is laughable. Those involved in the most recent bomb plotting trial were already active and radicalised well before the invasion of Iraq. Sept 11th 2001 wasn’t particularly latent, and neither was much latency shown when 224 people were killed and over 5000 injured, mostly Africans,when bomb attacks were made on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam in East Africa in 1998.

  5. Boris, you do have a nice turn of phrase and it is always worth reading what you have to say about things.

    Unfortunately though you are correct about Blair you also simplify everything far to much, and suffer under the strange delusion (probably originated by you being a Tory MP) that the Tories offer anything better to the electorate. You are right that the war in Iraq has caused more and not less terrorism. But there are other reasons why terrorists hate the west, some fair and some not.

    On the bicycle thing. The tube may be hot but you’d have to be mad to forsake it for anything other than a short bicycle ride or walk. Riding a bike in London at rush hour is an insane thing to do. London’s drivers are in such an endless, road rage filled, rush. They never stop on zebra crossings, rarely indicate and ultimately are driving big weapons around but are thinking about other things. Plus it is probably pretty hot in all that lycra surrounded by all those pumping engines.

    I don’t think that traveling in london is capable of being nice full stop. But it may improve the more people ride bikes I guess. Though I hold out little hope for anything very much.

  6. Hey Boris! you are being invaded by the radical left. Come and join us as we abolish the house of Lords, send the Windsors to work in a baked bean factory in Lowestoft, and fly the red flag on top of the Telegraph building. Redistribution of wealth, an end to the class system, and Henley to become the world headquarters of the love and peace movement.

  7. Be careful what you agree to Melissa, Vicus’s ‘love and peace movement’ might not quite be what you had in mind. It sounds suspiciously psychedelic to me, but maybe that’s just me.

  8. 1. I don’t believe large numbers of people are avoiding the tube out of fear of terrorism; if they are doing so, they’re daft.

    2. What should Blair have done differently, on a. Iraq, b. Muslim extremism?

  9. IRJM
    A: Iraq…No invasion, but aiding the Iraq’s themselves to dopose Saddam Hussein.

    B: Muslim extremism…No invasion, no Muslim extremism in England on the scale it appears to be now.

    Simple isn’t it.

  10. Steven_L you genius

    Hadn’t thought of any potential psychedelic element to it.. Well, Vicus — over to you: tell us you free-lovin’ soul of the earth…

    I must admit that most of his comments are slightly psychedelic off the radar and I like them but they ought to be put under the microscope — so, where are you Vicus?!

  11. I don’t think that traveling in london is capable of being nice full stop. (Goosefat).

    How many times do I have to say it? The solution is a Personal Rapid Transport / Urban Light Transport system.

    Sadly, the likes of Red Ken will never go for it because it would spoil their enjoyment of seeing us plebs herded into communal transport systems over which they have total control.

  12. You show me a Londoner who has recently converted to cycling and I will show you someone who is a refugee from the Tube – not just because the Underground is now an armpit-nuzzling inferno of heat, but also because at the back of the mind of many new cyclists is fear.

    Of course, a desire to escape the heat is understandable (I avoid the NYC subway system most of the summer for that very reason ) but fear? Do you really imagine that there is someone thinking to themselves, “Gosh, I really need to get from point A to point B but I my knees knock and I quake at the thought of a knapsack or a unseasonable coat. I know! I’ll get out the old bicycle and enter the fray among the drivers. I’ll be MUCH safer on the roads.”

    Piffle. Isn’t it just possible that they have converted to cycling after being inspired by your own pedal-pushing example, Boris?

  13. Melissa, my little doughnut, most of my lefty friends have left, (Never did like the Trots much, too argumentative) so you are LEFT with me.
    Yes, it is par for the course. Suggest love and peace as a sensible policy, and suddenly the goose-stepping tendency emerges to suggest that tolerance and harmony are nothing to do with the fundamental nature of human beings, and that unless we compete with each other, fight with each other, and in consequence maintain a work force of the underprivileged, then society is bound to collapse.
    Melissa. Cast off that drab formal attire (not in public, you remember what happened last time), put some flowers in your hair, adopt bright colours, sing Melanie songs to David Cameron, skip happily barefooted through the daisies in your lunch hour, get Boris to grow his hair down to his waist and put an Incredible String Band soundtrack on this blog, and then tell me that you don’t feel much better.

  14. Here’s a thought, whilst Tony and his cronies couldn’t wait to go swanning into Iraq, does anyone honestly think that the Tories would have done any different? It’s a competition to see which party (Labour or Tory) can get the furthest up the American arse. Just once I’d like to a leader who is capable of standing up to the Yanks. They don’t give a damn about us!

  15. Boris, you old English cock-sparrow type person,

    It’s all very well indeed going on about Islamic ‘martyrs’ being all hot and bothered under the collar about Iraq, but what about Palestine? You, like your old school-tie chum David, are always strangely silent on this matter.

    I know those naughty AIPAC men own the US government but have they enlarged their portfolio to encompass the stiff upper lips and quivering chins of British government too?

  16. Vicus – I like your observation:

    Suggest love and peace as a sensible policy, and suddenly the goose-stepping tendency emerges to suggest that tolerance and harmony are nothing to do with the fundamental nature of human beings

    And I would love to see DC’s face if Melissa started singing Melanie songs to him, barefoot, with flowers in her hair. I’m sure he would be gracious and a perfect gentleman.

  17. Leigh – Boris is more than capable of standing up to the Americans and has the added advantage of being born there.

  18. On Vicus’ comment & those after referring to it, please read ‘the STONED ape’ theory of evolution by Terrance McKenna (Wiki). The use psychedelic mushrooms in our primitive diets may well have been the ‘missing link’; it certainly makes sense to me anyway… which brings me to my point…
    I feel that many problems in our society arise from the segregation of said society through prohibition. If people were not prohibited from such relatively harmless things as marijuana & even mild psychedelic substances such as ‘magic’ mushrooms ( I mean, they’ve only been used throughout history for around 8000 years or so and have been proclaimed to “be of NO significant danger either to health or society” by a Dutch risk assessment team, hence the EU has labelled them a real FOOD! Contrary to alcohol & tobacco ey!) This country could be a more peaceful place in many respects, for a start more real criminals would be locked up and absolutely pathetic ‘justice’ such as our 68 year old, self-medicating marijuana user, Pat Tabram being charged, would not be an issue any longer. Now what has this got to do with anything? Well, how the hell can we possibly initiate world peace, if we can’t have peace here amongst ourselves? I really don’t think Hawaiian magic mushrooms are a necessity for peace, but the whole prohibition thing needs facing with a real perspective, people are wiser and more informed about everything nowadays, we are aware of the truth and the risks of our own actions, we know what are essentially lies told to us to make fit the draconian system as it was ‘intended’. This prohibition, semi-Nazi mentality, stretches far far away from the simple effects of marijuana in my opinion. Pharmaceutical, alcohol, cigarette & petro-chemical companies are just the beginning of the corruption we live with… Out with Bush and the Regan regime, out with Blair Blair Blair… In with natural recourses, Chinese medicine, hemp trousers & happy stoned people… When will the people get to choose what WE want???
    PS. And please remember that you don’t have to do it because it not illegal!!! Education & Choice is the key!

  19. JJ – I find your argument very interesting.

    It’s been suggested, by some pretty persuasive argument, that one particular book in the Bible was influenced heavily by the ingestion of hallucinogenics that grew naturally in the area and were normally contained in the diet of that region in which the book was written (in Greece I understand). Boris has some interesting information in his ‘Dream of Rome’ book to add to this debate.

    Also, on the subject of prohibition, I recently compared our own culture to other animals (here) and couldn’t help noticing that the erosion of the prohibition of sex in our culture is being heralded as the root of all evil in society and the tightening embrace of some to restrictive religions is the direct result. But when compared to other primates, such as the Bonobo monkey, this doesn’t seem to hold true and so seems to be a mask for the real, possibly more complex, problem and a completely different solution.

  20. Seems fair, Boris. Let’s see… the war started in 2003 if I remember correctly. It’s 2007 now. I’d suggest putting Tony in charge of Iraq for a comparable number of years. With no time off for lecture tours, either.

    Meanwhile, what Vicus said.

  21. “…anyone so foolish as to claim that Britain had got better on his watch…”

    Obviously this doesn’t apply to British companies and/or individuals providing inter alia products and services to the British Army.

    It’s an ill wind… as they say.

  22. Haven’t we all missed the issues? Boris can see loadsa bikes out of his window because the weather’s brill thanks to global warming, and were being taxed senseless by grim Gordon, and need to save the readies. For the analysts out there, CO2 + IRev = Bikes.

    Actually, has anyone done a study on how the human processes car fumes – do we breathe them out cleaner than what we inhale? Could this be a cunning Labour plan ….

  23. The only thing all you have to remember here is this… all people in this country or in the world have the right to live and live as they feel neccessary to fill their needs.That is suitable housing and living conditions and very little else, because i believe that people achieve their own goals but we cannot be dictated to by the likes of politicians who live their lives out of other peoples money like Boris Johnson who has made millions out of t.v. appearances but has done nothing for his community. After all there are just not a load of rich people in henley.. there are council and housing accosiation houses so lets not waste any more time ,, lets let people know we are the people [Ed .. comment moderated] DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT !!!!!!

  24. im sorry boris

    but there has been islamic extremism before iraq,before afghanistan,before 9/11 before israel was created— terrorists just use iraq as an excuse they will find other excuses , the main problem as michael gove put’s it in his excellent book is that we never stand up to western culture ,we dont bother trying to assimilate people into our country , we dont bother trying to win the cultural side of the war on terror ,by showing moderate muslims and young muslims there is no future in islamic extremism

    omar khayam for example his plot to bomb had nothing to do with iraq .

    i dont agree with the war on iraq for different reasons ,because it has made iran more powerful , it has not created islamic extremism it is already there

    i find people’s appeasing attitude to muslim extremists because of iraq abhorrent . what you should be saying was you were doing stuff before iraq Well we’re not going to stand for it because our culture is a peace loving culture . maybe if people like clinton took the terrorist threat seriously then we would have been in a better situation to deal with terrorists.

    there are many things i disagree on , but my first thought isn’t to kill innocent people,and i dont think anything can ever be used as an excuse to kill innocent people

  25. if people are avoiding the tube , because of a terrorist attack, they are letting terrorists win by letting terrorists change there lives

    people are more likely to die crossing the road then be killed by terrorists.

  26. also islamic extremism was here well before iraq because we let london especially become londonistan

    it took us 5 years to ban hitz ul tahir

    the only supposedly moderate leader of the muslim council of britain said about salman rushdie ,killing him would be to kind for him –and has spoken in favour of terrorist atttacks in israel

    the muslim association of britain has links to the muslim brotherhood a terrorist group

    we let omar bakri mohammed and Abu Hamza preach there hate for ages not doing anything about it — look the terrorist of 7/7 had links to both

    we had abu quatada in britain and did nothing about it

    it is our failure to act earlier on the terrorist threat ,which has lead to it being embedded deeply in a minority of muslim society

  27. I’m sorry if I made an inappropriate remark. I haven’t been following Boris Johnson’s career in huge detail I admit. I just think stirring up a witch hunt over the Iraq war is bad politics. Blair may have made the wrong call– only time will tell but at the time Blair, Bush and Howard all thought it was important from a number of different perspectives. Furthermore, decisions like that simply do involve an element of risk. Blair had to make the call–that’s his job. I’m not a fan of Blair at all but in this instance it’s unfair and unreasonable to have a go at him for a decision he made using the best information that he had at the time.

    Didn’t Boris support the war initially?

    Surely attempting to ensure that a relatively normal democratically elected government presides over the world’s second largest oil deposits was in everyone’s interests? At least they have tried. I wouldn’t have done it myself because I didn’t think it would work but I can see why it would have been a fantastic thing to do.

  28. Vicus, your work here is done. Melissa is advocating [Ed: xxx]in public with Bonobos.

    I, personally, draw the line at [Ed: xxx] in public with Bono.

  29. Raincoaster – Vicus is a perfectly harmless fruit bun and we love him to bits – just don’t think we mean to take this argument that far..

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