Nick Clegg defends Tony Blair over Iraq

John Rentoul

Nick+Clegg+on+LBC 300x199 Nick Clegg defends Tony Blair over IraqLike most reasonable people who disagreed with the invasion of Iraq, Nick Clegg must be embarrassed by the unreasoning haters who have been speaking increasingly on his behalf. Inevitably, he came across one on his phone-in on LBC radio this morning.

Dave from Ladbroke Grove: Nick, good morning it’s about another enquiry, this time it’s the Chilcot Inquiry.  Back at the Hay-on-Wye Festival in 2010 you said that the [inaudible] enquiry was completely legitimate and in other words gave out all the papers that were asked for, unless there was real meaningful disclosure it wouldn’t be a legitimate enquiry.  Yesterday in the Guardian they report that it will not be, giving out the papers that have been so long asked for by Chilcot, showing what Tony Blair promised George Bush in the run up to the Iraqi War.   Would you now say therefore that what you were saying back at the Hay Festival in 2010 it will indeed be a whitewash and that you will not be respecting its legitimacy?

Nic Ferarri: David just for new listeners starting here, in a sentence, I’m sorry Deputy Prime Minister, for new listeners starting here in a sentence, and please appreciate I know this obviously is hugely important to you, why is this so important or what might this contain or why is this so key David?

D:           Well of course millions of us who believe in this country we have a former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who we believe to be a [inaudible] for lying and deceiving a country into the Iraq War, so we want to know why the legitimacy of this you would question it back in 2010.  Are you now saying it will be a whitewash because Whitehall have said they will not be making it a legitimate enclosure of what he said to George Bush?

Nick Clegg: David forgive me I didn’t see the piece in the Guardian and one piece in the Guardian, it might be a very distinguished piece but I need to look at this carefully.  At the end of the day you can’t ask me, and I would suggest you shouldn’t either as somebody who is clearly interested in this, as am I because as you know I was staunchly opposed to what I considered to be not only illegitimate but illegal invasion of Iraq, that’s my own personal view.  I want this Chilcot enquiry to be complete as soon as possible but whether you think it is a good job or not can only be decided when you see it.  And I’m not going to second guess the thoroughness of the report from this Chilcot enquiry which has been going on for so long until I see it.

NF:         Ah yes when are we going to see it?

NC:         Well that’s entirely up to them it’s an independent enquiry, I need to check I think they’ve said they’re going to report finally towards the latter part of this year but I need to double check.  That’s my memory but I haven’t looked at it recently.  But David I would simply urge you to in a sense hold your fire in providing your own judgement about whether the Chilcot Inquiry has been conducted thoroughly.

NF:         Quick response from you David, go ahead sir.

D:           Well the only problem of course as well is that there’s the other question of the corruption.  We all know they went there for business, I mean to think that George Bush and Blair didn’t discuss business opportunities will not come out of that enquiry because it’s not a criminal investigation which was what you, if you’re against the War Mr Clegg, should be demanding if they’re not releasing the papers.

NC:         Well you’re making a number of assumptions, some which I don’t necessarily agree with, I mean however much I might strong disagree with Tony Blair’s rationale for joining in with the invasion of Iraq I don’t actually happen to think that there’s much evidence that it was a business enterprise.  It may have been spectacularly misguided and it may have flouted both international opinion and law but it’s not… it seems to me David you’ve made up your mind already entirely and I would just suggest to you that the whole point of an enquiry is to answer some of those question which hitherto haven’t been answered.

I have no sympathy for Clegg. If he uses the rhetorical language of an “illegal invasion” to mean “invasion with which I disagreed”, he will incite the likes of Dave to spout this kind of garbage in the expectation that the Liberal Democrats will agree with them.

I came across the “illegal war” fallacy last night, from Ian McWhirter on Newsnight Scotland. I said I didn’t know what he meant by the phrase and suspected that he didn’t either. His attempt to explain why he supported the Kosovo intervention in defiance of the United Nations confirmed my suspicion.

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  • JohnJustice

    Keep riding those horses, Susan. It obviously gives you real thrill particularly if you are dosed up on righteous indignation as you obviously are.

  • Shadowworld

    John Rentoul, I am more than happy to explain why the war was illegal. I will even draw annotated simple diagrams.

  • Stupidity Exterminator

    It is sad, isn’t it. Thank God for, at least to very limited extent, public scrutiny! Did Chilcot inquiry brought anything to the table? ;-)

  • Freke

    John Justice is what Stan Rosenthal is calling himself when producing comments like this. He is one of John Rentoul “best friends” and anytime that John is loosing a discussion about Blair one can be sure that Stan like a modern day Sancho Panza will try to come to Johns resque.

    They both are, in Johns words, “slavishly admiring” Tony Blair and have produced a web site called “banblairbaiting” where they are calling for the banning of people criticizing Blair. Unfortunately the quality of their web site is lower than that of two teenage girls setting up a Justin Bieber fan-club site.

    John and Stan have no arguments so instead they have to resort to ad hominem attacks and call everybody that criticize Blair for “haters”.

    It is all quite sad really. Two grown men acting like teenage Justin Bieber fans …..

  • Vitaly Klitschko

    The slang “haters” is an interesting example of the corruption of the English language by social networking media. It’s slang which substitutes for thinking or argumentation. If you look at the Urban Dictionary you get a pretty apt description:

    “…people that use the term “haters” are the lowest stage of the
    evolutionary scale. They bleed the fastest and have thought processes
    similar to that of a mentally underdeveloped cat.”

    It’s characteristic that the illiterates who use this slang to abuse others also prefer content-free clichés such as “high horses” and “turns you on” and purple prose such as “vale of self-deception”, which wouldn’t be out of place in a comic book.

  • Vitaly Klitschko

    Definition of ad-hominem attacks from the Free Dictionary:

    ‘Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason: Debaters should avoid ad hominem arguments that question their opponents’ motives.’

    Mr ‘JohnJustice’, why are you lowering the level of debate to the school playground? It doesn’t just demean you, it demeans this blog.

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