Blair’s Body Count

At a Downing Street reception not long ago, a guest had the temerity to ask Tony Blair: “How do you sleep at night, knowing that you’ve been responsible for the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis?” The Prime Minister is said to have retorted: “I think you’ll find it’s closer to 50,000.”

The New Statesman cover story by John Kampfner speaks of the alacrity with which Blair has approached the use of force. The article is more than merely a breakdown of the 71,617 death toll taken on Blair’s watch. It is also a indictment of the degrading of Britain’s moral standing while Blair has been in power.

If you thought Blair and his cabinet’s conduct over Iraq set the tone, then Blair’s steadfast denial of any accountability over the destruction of Lebanon takes political hubris to a whole new level.

Now, as Blair hides behind banalities about “good and evil” and the familiar, crude definitions of “terrorism”, his ministers look on helplessly. They talk openly to journalists - in the “you can print it, but just don’t name me” deal that is the coward’s life at Westminster - of Blair’s “Bush problem”. Shortly before MPs left for their summer break, one senior member of the cabinet accosted me in the corridors of the Commons, and asked: “How much further up their arses do you think we can go?” I suggested that this was more up to him than to me.

At least over Iraq someone resigned. This time, ministers do nothing. Their private complaints have no moral or political value, because they will not stop Blair. Under cabinet rules of collective responsibility, they are endorsing the Israeli assault.

I haven’t pasted the figures from the New Statesman. They’re at the end of the article, take a look for yourself. I’m getting tired of this tawdry and meaningless debate on the numbers and comparisons on the quantity of dead rather than for a sea change in leadership.

How did we get to this?

60 Responses to “Blair’s Body Count”

  1. leon Says:

    ‘How did we get to this?’

    18 years of a Tory government made some of us desperate for change. So much so that we didn’t truly compare what we were exchanging the Tories for…

  2. sonia Says:

    Party politics that’s how, and career politicians. ‘Toe the party line’ and all that crap.

  3. sonia Says:

    good point leon - and of course, it looks like it may well be another swap coming up..people so desperate to get rid of Blair we’ll have to vote another bloody fascist dicator in. that’s what it boils down to - once the votes are in, that’s it. Between then and up until the next election, we’re virtual prisoners of the ‘administration’. so much for democracy - if we the people are supposed to be ‘in charge’ then how come we can’t comment on the job someone’s doing? oh right hang on - it’s because they’re the authority - welisten to them. Seems to me a pretty up-side down version of dem