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Monday, 07 November 2005

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>> President Bush must take most of it, but 'Tony' Blair

You may as well be formal about it, and refer to the former as 'President' Bush.

Naughty one, Jack, but a nice one, too!

I should warn you that 'Son of Duff' is preparing the mother of all graphs to confound everyone on the subject of the Iraqi death toll. "Take cover - that's incoming!"

David,

To be fair to Oliver, I am not at all sure that there is a big groundswell of opinion behind his views on Tony Blair & the war in Iraq at present. He does write impressively, it’s true, but not – I think – in a style that necessarily engages the sympathies of your average reader. He reminds me of the quote in Foucault’s Pendulum. “Not that the incredulous person doesn’t believe in anything. It’s just that he doesn’t believe in everything. Or he believes in one thing at a time. He believes in a second thing only if it somehow follows from the first thing. He is nearsighted and methodical, avoiding wide horizons.”

Whether or not events in Iraq are proving him wrong (& personally my instincts are, almost unvaryingly, to go diametrically against popular opinion in just about everything regarding Blair, from 1997 onwards), the sad truth is, most ordinary people would be much happier reading, say, a professional soldier saying “we’ve started something and we’re duty bound to finish it now,” than an academic reaching the same practical conclusion because it follows axiomatically after 12 chapters as a logical consequence of his starting premises. That’s the way that people react; and depending on your level of fellow-feeling, you could say it’s either because they’re an emotive mob easily swayed by demotic language, or alternatively that they’re a cynical bunch with an intrinsic mistrust of logic and syllogisms, at least when used by academics to tell them how they ought to behave.

Anyhow. If Oliver’s an idealist, I’d say it’s because he hopes people will gradually come round acting more logically in line with a supposed general trend since the Enlightenment. I’m afraid I attribute this to his not having done a science degree.

Hilary,
I must confess that I have been, and still am, completely at sea as far as Mr. Blair goes. I do think that he is the most fascinating and complex prime minister I have ever lived under - and I go back as far as Chamberlain, although I was only one at the time. I knew he was a twister from the first moment he described himself as "a pretty straight sort of a guy". It immediately put me in mind of the old City injunction that when a man tells you his word is as good as his bond, take his bond! But then he utterly confounded me when he stood four-square next to the USA after 9/11 and backed them to the hilt in Afghanistan and Iraq. That took real political courage, but even in 'doing the right thing' he behaved disgracefully with his Campbell-inspired exaggerations that just fell short of lies. The result now is calamitous. No-one trusts his probity, and more to the point (and deserved) no-one trusts our intelligence services, or indeed, any of the higher ranks of the civil service, which means that our country is likely to be paralysed in any future situation of danger.

However, my main attack on Oliver was aimed at his belief that the liberal consensus that has, in effect, ruled us for the last 40 years has made us more civilised. I would suggest that syllogisms, logic and a degree in PPE form 'Oxbridge' are superfluous, all you need are eyes and ears; hence my suggestion that Oliver goes a little further afield than Hove, Westminster and the City.

In essence, I think his one-man crusade in support of Mr. Blair has led a highly intelligent man astray, and I for one, am sorry for it.

"still with me Larry?"

Who me?

Who else?

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