Blair is oblivious to what the public think of him – many believe he should be on trial in the Hague, not attempting a comeback argues Lindsey German in the Guardian
Five years after he left Downing Street, Tony Blair's attempted comeback to political life shows how little he understands about what went wrong with his career, and about the level of opposition to him that still remains.
He has planned a series of fundraising events to facilitate his return to grace, including an "in conversation" with Tessa Jowell and a £500-a-head dinner alongside Ed Miliband tomorrow. Jowell had to hastily cancel her appearance for fear of demonstrations. Tonight's Blair event at Arsenal's Emirates stadium in north London will be met by protests organised by the Stop the War coalition over his role in the Iraq war.
It appears that his old friend and partner in crime, Alastair Campbell, will be there. While we have to assume that those attending will not choke on their dinners, many Labour members and voters will find all this too much to stomach.
Blair was determined to follow George Bush into war, regardless of the evidence of its necessity or the consequences. He and Campbell, along with head of MI6 John Scarlett, constructed a dossier that claimed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that posed a direct threat to Britain. It was a lie.
He refused to put the full and balanced advice on the legality of the war to his cabinet, let alone to parliament or to the public. Instead he insisted that it was legal, a fact disputed by many international lawyers.
Blair ignored public opinion, which repeatedly showed majorities against the war, and the largest peace demonstration ever in British history.
He bullied and bribed many Labour MPs into voting for war in March 2003, against their better instincts and the wishes of their constituents.
Everything that Blair predicted about the war turned out to be false: there were no WMD, there was widespread resistance to the invasion, and the country and its people have suffered terribly, with hundreds of thousands dead and 4 million made refugees.
Labour lost 1 million votes in the 2005 general election, generally attributed mainly to opposition over the war.
Blair has gone on to make a fortune estimated at £50m. He is a star of the US lecture circuits. He now wants to re-establish his reputation here.
But he can never escape the war. The millions who marched will not forgive him for it. Many would like to see him on trial in the Hague, not feted by big business or given a prominent political position again.
The protests organised by us are about holding Blair to account for the past, but they are also about the future. In his role as envoy for peace in the Middle East (surely only Bush would be a less suitable candidate?), Blair has backed the US neocons and hawks in support of Israel and in advocating war against Iran and Syria.
He has never shown any contrition for his destructive policies, nor apologised for anything. He is a serial offender, who justifies his behaviour by saying that he believed he was right.
Surely we have a duty to protest against someone who has caused such damage, who persists in doing so and who wants to be rehabilitated in order to put the case for more wars?
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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