Monday, 1 February 2010

New poll: 8 in 10 say Blair lied

The results of a new poll about Tony Blair and the background to the invasion of Iraq are damning. The Mail on Sunday reports: 'Eight out of ten people believe that the former Prime Minister lied in his evidence. They feel he made a ‘blood pact’ with George Bush to invade the country as he wanted to impress him – not because he believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). And nearly one in three thinks Mr Blair should be tried for war crimes. Those are the damning conclusions of a Mail on Sunday poll conducted by BPIX after Mr Blair’s testimony to Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry on Friday.'

The article continues: 'Asked if they believed Mr Blair when he told the inquiry that his Government had not been guilty of any ‘lies or deceit’ during the build-up to war, an overwhelming 80 per cent said that they did not. And questioned about the most infamous claim made by the Blair Government – that Saddam could mount an attack within 45 minutes – three- quarters said they did not believe Mr Blair when he denied trying to promote the notion.

As he gave his evidence inside the Westminster Conference Centre, demonstrators outside waved placards calling him ‘Bliar’ and a ‘war criminal’. The poll makes clear that – despite his polished performance at the hearing – similarly trenchant views are shared by the country at large.'

The poll also reveals that 70% think the war was illegal, with 28% judging that Blair should be tried for war crimes. It is clear, as even the Mail on Sunday acknowledges, that Stop the War's protests on Friday expressed a deeply felt and widespread public sentiment. They made visible the views and feelings of the majority of people in this country. It is also worth commenting on the extent to which people reject the dominant ideological arguments in the 'war on terror': significantly, 61% agree that war in Iraq 'increased the terrorist threat to UK', contrasting with the arguments of Labour and Tories alike that the war was designed to do precisely the opposite.

The Mail's article states: 'The survey makes clear Mr Blair will go down in history as the man who took us into a bloody war in Iraq –87 per cent say the conflict will ‘always overshadow’ his decade at No 10. Worryingly for Gordon Brown, nearly one in four say it will make them less likely to vote for him.' This reminds us of the centrality of the war on terror to domestic British politics in recent years - and indeed its continuing political relevance.

Also, check out this very good report of Friday's protests - the Sky News coverage includes powerful words from relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq such as Peter Brierly, who we have speaking at a Stop the War public meeting in Newcastle next Wednesday.

It's also great to learn that charges of desertion against Joe Glenton have now been dropped. His hearing was on the same day as Blair's appearance at the Chilcot inquiry. I shared a platform with his wife Clare in Sunderland last November, just 24 hours after he was arrested. His campaign is a vital one for our whole movement - and, while this latest development is very welcome news, one that will continue.

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