06/07/2016 The Papers


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let nobody down at all. That is it from us. Coming up next, The Papers.


Hello. Welcome to our look ahead to what the papers will bring us


tomorrow. I'm joined by Lance Price, political commentator and the


political commentator at the Evening Standard. Let's look at the front


pages. We can start with the FT. They read on the Chilcot report.


They also have a story about French attempts to lure highly paid bankers


from the UK after Brexit. Unsurprisingly, the Metro leads with


the Chilcot report, focusing on Tony Blair's defence of his decision to


invade Iraq. The Telegraph has a similar front


page, with the former Prime Minister saying, I would take the same


decision. The Times labels the fallout from the Chilcot report as


Blair's Private War. The Mirror puts Blair and George Bush side-by-side


on its front page. The Guardian is quoting Blair's memo


of support to President Bush in the lead up to the Iraq war. The Express


also focuses on Mr Blair's insistence that he would go to war


again. Here is the Daily Mail. They go as far as to call Tony Blair a


monster of the allusion. Let's begin, and as we can see from that


run through, clearly, one story is very big, unsurprisingly. Lance,


let's start with you, because you'd knew Tony Blair very well. The


Mirror among others choosing to focus on these memos that have been


declassified as part of the enquiry, particularly the relationship


between Tony Blair and George W Bush. I think this is probably what


people were most looking for from the report, what it would say about


whether or not Tony Blair and George Bush had made an irrevocable


decision months ahead of when any announcement was made to go to war.


And the nearest you get to that is this memo, which we hadn't seen


before, in which Tony Blair says, I'll be with you, whatever. Which


is, as a quote, pretty firm sounding. It goes on to say all the


difficulties involved in what is coming up. It also puts a lot of


pressure on Bush to go for the United Nations option. Actually, if


you take the memo in the Browns, I don't think it amounts to an


absolute firm and definite commitment that there would be war.


People were looking for this to be the smoking gun. As Lance points


out, the memo runs to several pages. I don't think anyone will really


have had their opinions changed about Tony Blair or the decision to


go to war in Iraq as a result of the Chilcot enquiry. I think that those


people who at the start of the day were very antiglare and --


anti-Blair will feel that Chilcot's opening remarks on publishing the


report were very damning of the former Prime Minister, but equally,


Tony Blair's superlative is an Tony Blair himself, Alistair Campbell,


one of your former colleagues wrote a blog saying that Chilcot


vindicated him because he did not live. I think very few people would


have had their opinions changed by this. The memos were the most


interesting part in that some of us were looking for some sort of secret


deal that was signed up to buy Tony Blair with George Bush, and there


was nothing that was found by Chilcot that suggested a smoking


gun, as Lance says. It was interesting in terms of what it


showed us about the relationships, nevertheless, between the two men,


and the psychological insight into Tony Blair and how he felt about


George Bush. Chilcot picked up on that when he talked about how one of


the lessons that could be learned was how we dealt with our allies,


notably the US, UK relationship, and reminding his audience that Britain


and the United States had a very long and close relationship that


could withstand occasionally not having absolutely unconditional


support, and suggesting that, in future, leaders might want to bear


that in mind. Tony Blair obviously always had the reputation of always


being George Bush's poodle. Some would say, unfairly. Many people,


having read those memos today will think he went a bit too far and was


overconfident. Chilcot said that as well. He was trying to get as close


as he could to George W Bush in order to be able to influence him,


and the arguments will continue to go on, even after the Chilcot


report, about whether he stood any real prospect of doing that. But it


is pretty clear, and Chilcot credits him with that, that he certainly


tried to soften George W Bush and to push in the diplomatic direction for


as long as he could. The other issue that divides people, and it is


covered in the Times, is Tony Blair's internal struggle. Was there


one? A lot of people, today, looking at the press conference, people who


never liked Blair wanted to go to war were saying that those were


crocodile tears. Other people, saying that Blair has been crushed


and there has been a personal cost. Crushed is probably too strong a


word, but he has been deeply affected by the impact of the war


and how it went wrong. When he says that he felt it very personally and


thinks about it every single day, I am sure he is sincere. How could he


not? It hangs over his reputation, which of course, he cares about,


like all politicians. It makes it difficult for people to form a


balanced judgment about him as a prime minister. His private war goes


to the heart of whether or not it was one man's decision and whether


or not he was circumventing Cabinet Government. He was then using every


power of persuasion that he had at his disposal to almost sort of force


Parliament and public opinion to go with him. I think there is a little


rewriting of history there. There was an awful lot of discussion in


Cabinet, as many of his Cabinet colleagues have been saying today.


And there was a full debate in parliament, a full debate in public,


and people forget now, with hindsight, that the polls were


suggesting that the majority of the British public were in favour of the


action, and if you look at the front pages of the newspapers, including


the Daily Mail, they were strongly in favour then and they have changed


their children. The point Tony Blair made today, the decision rested with


him alone. Even if he consulted. Whatever the rights and wrongs of


the decision that he came to, his main mission was to try to persuade


people and issue a plea to people to say, don't say I am -- I am a liar


and I miss lead you. It was none of those things. You might disagree


with why I did it, and he conceded that there were many problems, and


in specific areas, he apologised for specific problems that arose that


could have been avoided, but the bottom line for him is: I am the


decision-makers and I needed to make a decision. Ultimately, I would make


the same decision again, knowing the fact that I knew at that point.


There is an interesting hypothetical question, which is whether a


different Labour Party Prime Minister would have made a different


decision, faced with the same evidence. We are short on time. The


Daily Telegraph also has Chilcot, but Pippa, just to finish off, if we


go down to the bottom, it is the Tory leadership contest, and a


suggestion of tactical voting ahead. An e-mail from Nick Bowles, Michael


Gove's campaign manager, suggesting people might like to vote for


Michael Gove in order to stop Andrea Leadsom. Michael Gove is prepared to


take a thrashing from trees AFP gets down to the last two, and we will


find out who those are tomorrow night. -- a thrashing from two Reza


may -- from Theresa May. Yellow light it shows they are a


Machiavellian bunch, the Tories. Thank you very much. We will have


more later. Thanks to Lance and pepper. Time now for a look at the


weather. --


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