The Chilcot report

July 7th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told US President George W Bush eight months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq “I will be with you, whatever”, and relied on flawed intelligence and legal advice to go to war, a seven-year inquiry concluded on Wednesday.

It strongly criticised Blair on a range of issues, saying the threat posed by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction had been over-hyped and the planning for the aftermath of war had been inadequate.

Blair responded that he had taken the decision to go to war “in good faith”, that he still believed it was better to remove Saddam, and that he did not see that action as the cause of terrorism today, in the Middle East or elsewhere.

“The intelligence assessments made at the time of going to war turned out to be wrong. The aftermath turned out to be more hostile, protracted and bloody than ever we imagined,” the former prime minister, looking gaunt and strained, told reporters.

The lesson from this is that a nasty dictator might be better than the turmoil that comes from removing him.

The 1991 war was absolutely justified as Saddam had invaded Kuwait. The 2003 war was based on the premise that Saddam had WMDs – something that turned out to be wrong.

Lunch with Blair

July 28th, 2011 at 4:12 pm by David Farrar

At Auckland Koru Club on the way back down to Wellington after going out to Eden Park for a lunch with former UK PM Tony Blair.

Had a very brief chat to him before the lunch, mainly about a mutual friend who used to be his children’s nanny.

Blair’s presentation wasn’t stunning – I suspect he is a bit jet lagged, but the content was excellent. I swear the man is more Tory than me. What I mean is that he gave one of the best repudiations of Keynesian economics around, explained why a fiscal stimulus in response to the financial crisis doesn’t mean one should go back the days of big Government.

He spoke about how the need for reform in public services is continual, and quipped that if Clement Atlee was alive today, the only part of society he would still feel comfortable in would be the public service, as so little had changed since the 1950s.

Talked about Iraq and Afghanistan. He thinks both will still end up better off than if there had been no intervention, however is very worried about the meddling and influence of Iran.

I asked him a question on which of the five or six Opposition Leaders he had seen off, did he respect the most and why. I quipped that he could include Gordon Brown in the answer to that question, which he seemed to find amusing.

Someone at our table (the Telecom table), asked whether he thought David Miliband should have challenged Gordon Brown for the leadership, and would the election result have been different. Blair hesitated about answering this, and asked if any journalists were in the room. It was hilarious to observe as in unison all the journalists in the room yelled out “no”, which meant Blair went on to answer. He was a master though of re-writing questions, so the answer he gave was that if Labour had remained New Labour, he thinks they had the potential to get a different result.

Blair also had interesting observations on the Middle East and the Arab Spring. He has a belief that so called western values of democracy and freedom are in fact universal values, and we are seeing this take place through the uprisings.

The company which was the major sponsor of the lunch, is Visy. They are one of the world’s largest paper recycling and packing companies and believe that responding to climate change is a business opportunity, not a cost. their Chairman spoke also to the lunch. Interestingly not a single question to Blair was on climate change though.

Blair on Brown

September 1st, 2010 at 5:30 pm by David Farrar

Oh these are good. The Telegraph reports:

The former prime minister’s memoir discloses that a “maddening” Mr Brown effectively blackmailed him while he was in No 10. He suspects the then chancellor of orchestrating the investigation into the cash-for-honours scandal.

The pressure on Mr Blair to step aside became so great that he admits he may have become reliant on alcohol as he faced coup attempts from Mr Brown’s supporters. He discloses that he began drinking every day and needed the “support” that alcohol provided.

I’m still making my way through Mandelson’s memoirs. Blair’s will come next.

Advice from Keating

June 5th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports that Paul Keating once tried to teach Tony Blair how to hate his opponents. He also advised:

Keating also had some tips for Blair on economic issues, telling him that if he ever became prime minister he should avoid income tax hikes at all costs.

“Tony, promise me you won’t raise income tax. It’s death.

“Labour parties around the world have enough to contend with without hanging that round their necks. It’s not worth it.”

Luckily in NZ, Labour is suggesting they will campaign in 2011 on a policy to increase income tax for rich pricks.