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“Someone is wrong”

John Rentoul

wrong 280x300 Someone is wrongA brief reply to Francis Beckett, in which I fall into the “Wrong” trap (right). But he says, of our appearance on Sunday Morning Live, about which I commented yesterday, that I had said that the BBC should have censored Anne Atkins and prevented her from calling Tony Blair a “war criminal”.

Unfortunately he was not paying attention to the programme, which I realise can be difficult if you are in the studio because you do not always see the taped segments. But the compilation voiced by the presenter, Susanna Reid, said that Blair “had been dubbed a war criminal” because of the Iraq war. That was what prompted Atkins to repeat the phrase, and it was the BBC’s use of it to which I objected.

PS. Reid redeemed herself in my eyes at the end, after Beckett criticised Blair’s donation to the British Legion because it was a way of saving tax (I wouldn’t want him as my accountant), wrapping up the discussion with a crisp: “Tony Blair pays his taxes willingly.”

Cartoon from xkcd

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  • JohnJustice

    takeoman, a small number of cranks dubbing someone as a “war criminal” is no reason for the BBC to suggest that this is a legitimate widespread opinion. It gives respectability to an absurd minority point of view, much in the same way that Fox News has given credibility to right-wing fundamentalists who have dubbed Obama as the spawn of Satan who will bring about the End of Days.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnRentoul John Rentoul

    Comment from Francis Beckett:
    So John Rentoul struggles to understand “the socio-psychology of Blair rage.” Which shows how living for years in the Westminster village can make the real world look very strange.
    He says I hate Tony Blair because he’s not Clement Attlee. I don’t: I hate him because he is Tony Blair, the most vacuous Prime Minister Britain has had since Ramsay MacDonald.
    Either you can stomach a Labour Prime Minister who takes us to war on a lie; who does it so casually that he never bothers to think, or force his American allies to think, what the endgame and the exit strategy are going to be; who so misuses his power that he is willing to impose what amounts to censorship over a national broadcasting station, the BBC; who makes us all complicit in torture; who nonchalantly throws away Labour’s one chance in at least a generation to make a fairer society, and leaves the gap between rich and poor wider than he found it; or you can’t. I can’t.
    He says my political hero Clement Attlee (I have written biographies of both Attlee and Blair – I admire the former and despise the latter) is “the figment of rose-tinted labourist imagination.” Is the National Health Service, the welfare state and universal state education a figment of my imagination, or did John’s friends and relations benefit from it too? Attlee had just six years and changed the way we all lived. Blair had ten and his rule was merely a continuation of Thatcher’s.
    That said, I’ve an apology to make to John. The BBC’s presenter did use the words “war criminal” about Blair on the Sunday morning programme I appeared on; I missed it, and John kindly points out that it’s easy to do when you’re in the studio yourself. The presenter said Blair “had been dubbed a war criminal.” It was not just a studio guest who used the words.
    Even so, what’s wrong about the presenter saying it? I don’t happen to think it’s a proper description – like John, I think you devalue the phrase by using it of Blair. But it’s manifestly true that he “has been dubbed” a war criminal, and by a reasonable number of people too.

  • Guest

    Odd that the best comment you have posted (or repeated) on Tony Blair is written by Francis Beckett and is, to the large part, in opposition to your own.

    As an ex-serviceman with a degree in law I have looked into this subject; though the articles I have read have shown it has been analysed by far more learned members of the bar than I am. Blair appears to have committed offences which, by the legal definition, are War Crimes. Though it has yet to be proven in court.

    The most accurate part of this statement by Mr Beckett may be that journalists who spend a lot of time in Westminster Village, or who have as close a relationship with the person they are writing about as you do with Tony, may not have the objective distance to properly consider how much suffering has been caused.

    Of course this returns me to the position of trying to analyse your unceasing support for the harm done by Tony Blair. Which I promised I wouldn’t do because it certainly is beyond my meagre capabilities to see it as anything other than deceitful.

  • Guest

    I think it’s reasonable to consider much of what he has done to be War Crimes. I think the most obvious one is to conspire with another nation (USA) to create a build up of forces on the border of a third nation (Iraq) prior to a formal decleration of war. Though the rendition, dishonest basis for war, the profiteering from war during the process called rebuilding, etc. are all present.

  • Guest

    A large number of people have said he has committed war crimes, some of who are qualified to make the statement. I cant say that the Independent blogs are a representative sample, but they appear to oppose the idea that it is merely a minority which consider Tony Blair to be a War Criminal. I know that the local pub I visit is from an entirely different socio-economic class than the people considered the target audience by the Independent and the almost unanimous majority of the blokes in the pub also think Tony Blair is a War Criminal. Seems to me it’s a widespread opinion.

  • takeoman

    Neat swerve bringing in Fox News and Obama, but it doesn’t change the fact that Blair having been dubbed a war criminal by a large number of people, it is pefectly acceptable for the BBC to report this and Rentoul’s objections can only be seen as yet another attempt to stifle debate and whitewash his idol.

  • JohnJustice

    Oh come off it Mr Price! Blogs, and the views of the chattering classes generally come to that, are hardly representative of public opinion. Neither are the views of your drinking buddies, particularly when they have had one too many. In that state some are inclined to defame the name of Mother Theresa or even Jesus Christ.

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