A Bony Tear Twist…

29 01 2010

So, as I write good ‘ol Tone is talking to some important people. You know the guy, was in charge of our country for a few years, took us to war, sorted out Northern Ireland forever, introduced minimum wage and told us that half the school leavers should go to university. That guy.

The trouble is, unemployment remains sky-high, the PM is struggling to solve the resurgent Northern Ireland problem, and the war which we were taken into is still raging.

So now he’s back, from wherever the hell he went to make an exoribant amount of money, and he’s talking. Not in straight sentences I’m sure, but talking nonetheless. Nick Robinson’s blog is the most revealing insight into Blair and his morning in front of the panel. The key thing, Robinson notes, is that regime change was always going to happen, regardless of the ’45 minute’ claim, regardless of whether WMD’s were ever found. War, it seems, was an inevitability.

The outcome of the inquiry is a long way away. But it does make for an interesting theoretical. Is it legal to go to war? Implicit in itself is the notion that war has to be a legal act. Can it really be such a thing? Obviously those up top think it can. I’m not convinced, and whilst I accept that perhaps certain motions have to be carried out before the declaration of war itself, I remain skeptical as to whether these can ever be completely listened to.

The simple fact is this. You will always have people in positions of power who will disagree with such a thing as war. It’s natural. If you listen to these people you never go to war. The consequences of this are that some dictator somewhere goes on killing his own citizens and developing the technology to blow you sky high.

Or you stop it. You do all the necessary talking, which, naturally result in ultimatum. You then have the courage of your convictions and follow through with your threats. This, I think, is what Blair did. It’s an odd situation I find myself in, supporting Blair. But I do think that whilst the grounds for the war fed to the public were slightly dubious, war was an inevitability.

War is never simple. There are pros and there are cons. This is the nature of the beast. But sometimes, just sometimes war is necessary. It’s what soldiers understand when they sign up. It’s what politicians understand when they encounter massive problems in foreign fields. It’s what the public of 1914 understood when they signed up in their thousands to join in the war effort. It’s what the public of today do not understand.

Yes, there does have to be an enquiry into it, because there was lying and false accusations. But no, it doesn’t mean that the war was any less justified. What has come afterward is natural too. The removal of a dictator means that there will be a power vacuum. It will be filled with the people who can intimidate the most. Thus peace-keepers were needed in the country. Indeed, they still are needed in the country. Whilst the democratic rebuilding exercise continues, the troops will be needed to help. Of course there is a problem if the democracy leans too heavily on the troops for support, but that’s a different problem.

The inquiry is an interesting thing. It will, most likely, find the war to be illegal, but won’t do much to remedy this. The overall result is that we went to war. Now we must deal with it. Not reflect on whether it was legal to do so. History will judge Blair and Bush, in the course of time. Lets deal with the cards we have on the table and not worry as to whether the cards should exist in the first place.

Two thoughts…

4 01 2009

I have just a couple of ponderances to give to you today.

1. With the trouble in the middle east kicking off one more with disappointing gusto, just where is Britain’s middle east envoy? That’s right, he’s over in America telling everyone how part of everything is luck. According to Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye Tony,  the other half is fate. At a time when the middle east is crying out for help from anyone who is willing to give it, wouldn’t it be nice to actively see Blair doing something about it rather fattening his own wallet by participating in student conferences?

2. At the moment I have nothing to confirm this, as I’ve heard it only in conversation, but guess who the biggest advertiser is on the tv? That’s right, it’s the government. Various governmental campaigns such as the “know your limits” campaign, the car-tax advert or the new obesity advert all come from those at the top concerned with our well-being. It goes a long way to explain just why most people get really annoyed with adverts, and, naturally enough, change the channel.

The Greatest…?

26 09 2008

An image on the BBC Homepage caught my eye as I was performing my usual review of frequented websites this morning. The caption beneath the image read “Who’s our Greatest Post-War PM?”.

Certain names immediately present themselves. Thatcher, Blair, Churchill (although his post-war legacy is somewhat sketchy), Attlee. All have a certain iconic status to them. All contributed to shaping Britain, however much you may disagree with what they did and how they did it.

The article asks you to list in order of preference, who you consider to be “the greatest”. It’s a simple task really, which PM do you like the most?

The trouble is, it is not a simple task for a plethora of reasons. I will list but three:

1. Few people who will vote will remember all the candidates (there are comments to be made here about the average age of internet users, and the age of people who will be able to remember all the candidates). Therefore the judgements they make will be based upon books/ recordings/ papers etc, ie, all second hand material (I will return to this point later).

2. It very much reflects the political views of those who vote, that is, if more Conservative voters take part in the poll, there will be inevitable skew (almost certainly in favour of the Iron Lady).

3. A good leader and success rarely go hand in hand (Churchill was, I believe, a good leader, but his overall record, as mentioned above, was sketchy). Leaders will get judged more on their failings than their successes (perhaps this is the right way to do it?), and for example Blair’s reputation will be forever tarnished with the gloomy spectre of the Iraq war, despite some notable success (Ireland for example).

So, it is with difficulty that one can choose who is “the greatest”, which, in itself is something of a misnomer as it encourages people to compare like with like (obviously impossible as the Britain of Macmillan, for example, is hugely different to that of Brown.)

Returning therefore to my first point of contention, the use of second hand material to judge people. The whole issue of source material is one which, as a history scholar, I have become very aware of during my academic life.  Warnings from teachers to not take the source at face value seem a long time ago, but still are (and forever will be) hugely relevant. When reading a newspaper, or watching the television, I seem to be thinking more about the angles things are portrayed at now than ever previously. I think you have to be very careful about so nonchalantly critique-ing people based on the value of a brief synopsis of their career written by a hard line left-winger, for example.

I therefore have refrained from voting in such a poll simply because it is a simple piece of time-wasting which companies such as the BBC can leap upon and claim that “Thatcher is the Greatest Post-War PM” (replacing ‘Thatcher’ with any such suitable candidate – for the record, I do think Thatcher will win such a poll, with Chuchill and Blair completing the top three). Obviously the poll is entirely inconclusive, and reflective of little more than the people who vote (shock horror, for example, that a poll in which 59% were Conservative voters, Thatcher won).

If, unlike me you do wish to vote in this poll, the link is here. Perhaps you are confident of making an informed, unbiased decision on who was the greatest post-war PM. I can’t, and I’m reasonably certain most people couldn’t either.

We stand and salute…

18 02 2008

I am, by my ‘word origin calendar’, reliably informed that today is Presidents’ Day. This is meant to be, according to Wikipedia at least, a day where the former Presidents are celebrated and remembered. It is meant to be a public holiday and was, initially a celebration of George Washington (Remember him? The guy who fought Jebediah Springfield in The Simpsons? Yeah, that one.) but now has grown to include all Presidents (unless you are from Massachusetts).

In honour of this jovial day, I propose a toast.

Will you all rise and raise your glasses to our great and esteemed former-leader…

President Blair.