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John Rentoul

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting fellow at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.

"The Independent's must-read man" - Daniel Finkelstein

You can contact John in the comments area or email him at j.rentoul@independent.co.uk

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We few, we happy few

Posted by John Rentoul
  • Sunday, 24 January 2010 at 04:35 pm
For some time, fellow journalists have tended to regard someone who believes that, on balance, Tony Blair was a good prime minister and that, on balance, the Iraq invasion was justified as the only gay in the village. This overlooks the findings of opinion polls which, while they mostly reflect received media opinion back to the media, also suggest that 32 per cent do not agree that Blair "deliberately set out to mislead the British public in the run-up to the war about whether Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction". Asking the question in another form, YouGov this month found that 48 per cent of the British public acquitted Blair of "knowingly misleading" them.*

It overlooks, too, the fact that Blair was the most electorally successful prime minister in our country's democratic history, being returned with a substantial majority less than five years ago. This may account for some of the anti-Blair rage: a psycho-pathology of "I supported him but then I realised that he lied to me", although why grown-ups should indulge in such Freudian self-loathing in public defeats me.

Fortunately, there are now 323 of us that have signed the petition to Ban Blair Baiting, a brave venture, which was always about quality rather than numbers.

Anyway, just to redress the balance, for those of you who have spent too much time on the internet seeing the bile spewed forth in the comments on any newspaper article mentioning Blair and Iraq, Blair Supporter has put together a collection of the comments on the petition, which I append here.

*YouGov for The Sunday Times, 17 January (pdf).
Which of the following best sums up your view of Tony Blair in respect of the Iraq war?
Even if some of the details were wrong, Mr Blair was right to warn that Saddam Hussein’s regime was extremely dangerous 31%
Mr Blair misled Parliament and the public about the scale of the threat from Iraq but did not intend to do so 17%



FROM IRAQ

 

I am an Iraqi and I will always be grateful for the help that TB and the British people provided to my country when we needed it the most. Saddam Hussein was an evil man. Many of my friends and family were killed by his regime.Horror, intimidation, murder of our families before our eyes. And he used chemical weapons on us too. That is NOT a lie!

 


GOOD MAN


I am totally opposed to any baiting of anybody in the public domain or not. The level and wickedness of getting at Tony Blair in the press tells us what a good man he really is. I am not fond of David Cameron but would I would never join any campaign to down him, except to work hard fairly to keep him out of No 10.

 

 

MEDIA SUPPORTED STOP-THE-WAR FOR YEARS


Why aren’t the media up there facing the music, too? We ought to start with the BBC as self-appointed jeer-leaders frothing for over seven years on behalf of the Stop-the-War Coalition.

 


THE GREATEST – EVER


Tony Blair..The greatest PM, us, British has ever had

 


NO PLACE FOR PERSONAL ATTACK


there is no place in a modern political arena for this type of personal attack

 


SHOULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED


I believe this should have been stopped a long time ago.

 


MEDIA, HEARING WHAT IT WANTS TO HEAR


I feel that the media is not interested in finding out the real truth in the IRAQ enquiry just what it wants to hear

 


STOP DEMONISATION


It is important for democracy that any media demonisation of Tony Blair and Labour with regards the Iraq enquiry be checked until the results of the enquiry are published.I would say the same if the Tories were in a similar predicament.

 

 

BIASED MEDIA


Media combine with anti-war: see how biased coverage of Campbell testimony was.

 


HATRED & VICIMIZATION – STOP PERSECUTING ONE INDIVIDUAL


With the level of hatred & victimisation that Tony Blair has been put through I am surprised that anyone is willing to be Prime Minister of Britain!!

If you want peace then you must work for it and the persecution of one individual isn’t the way to achieve it.

 


CAMPAIGN TO DENIGRATE WHOLE LABOUR PARTY – EXPOSE IT

 

It is a campaign not merely to denigrate Tony Blear but to undermine the whole party in the run up to the General Election. We must expect more of this type of activity from the Tories and their supporters and be prepared to expose it.

 


“WAR CRIMINAL” JIBES A DISGRACE


It is fantasy to call Blair a war criminal. Its wrong and a disgrace on our society to label a man who put the interest of this country first.

 

 

A FINE LEADER


Nobody can assume they would not reach the same conclusion with Iraq and its why Blair was a leader and a fine one at that.

 


BEST PM


The Best PM this Country had. Shame on the media.

 


UNTRUTHFUL MEDIA. WATCHING THE SAME INQUIRY?

 

I watch the inquiry every day on-line and also see press/media cover and must say I wonder if we have been watching the same thing?I despair of ever having a truthful press/media in this country again!!

 

 


TRIAL BY MEDIA

 

Been a huge supporter for the last 12 years. Had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions and have worked for him in the past too. It’s the most unbalanced debate against Tony Blair I have ever seen. The anti war mob seem to be on a crusade to prove Tony lied so it doesn’t matter if there were a million Iraq enquiries, they are willing to believe all the evidence against Tony and dismiss anything that suggests otherwise. This is trial by media & totally unfair! www.tony-blair.org

 


ACCUSERS IGNORING ALL EVENTS PRIOR TO 2002-3


I find it significant that almost all the accusers of Blair in the matter of Iraq ignore all events prior to 2002-3. The decade of Bush Snr., Major, and Clinton, who also had to deal with Iraq is never mentioned. Invasion of Kuwait, murder, torture, rape and pillage of that country (rich, so does not count), the long years of the ‘no-fly zone’ and repeated United Nations votes, blocking U.N. inspections and so on, are as nothing to them.

 


RABID BLOODLUST SICKENING

 

Have become increasingly sick and disgusted at the easy assumption (based on prejudice or herd mentality) that Blair took us to war for some kind of personal gain, and that he’s an unprincipled liar. Also at the rabid bloodlust against Blair being demonstrated by so many paid and unpaid commentators. I do not believe any of this, though – unlike them – if any facts are presented to make me change my mind, I will. That’s what the inquiry is for, and I will accept its findings.

 


WE ELECT THEM – THEY SHOULD NOT BE PENALISED FOR DOING THEIR BEST

 

Prime Ministers have to make hard decisions. We elect them to do that on our behalf. They should not be penalised for doing their best in impossible circumstances.

 


BEST PM EVER – THANK YOU, DAILY MAIL


he was the best p.m. ever. thank you daily mail for leading me to this site

 


THANK YOU QUENTIN LETTS


I would like especially to thank the Daily Mail tand Quentin Letts for leading me to this website.

 


JEALOUSY – WE SHOULD LEGISLATE AGAINST THE DISGRACEFUL TABLOID PRESS

 

It seems that a former Labour PM is not permitted to make money on the world stage. The vile media campaign relates to jealousy that he is making more money than previous premiers. We should instead welcome the fact that one of our citizens and former leader is renowned world wide and his views welcomed. I am appalled at the misreporting of much of his comment. Disgraceful press standards and it is time that we legislated to control the tabloid press.

 


BLAIR IS A GOOD MAN, NOT A WAR CRIMINAL BECAUSE SOME DISAGREE OVER IRAQ

 

Blair was elected to make informed decisions on our behalf. Some may disagree with the decision to go to Iraq, however, that does not make him a war criminal and i think it is crossing a line to have him scrutinised in this way. I trust he did what he thought was right based on the intelligence that he recieved. He is a good man and this whole inquiry is a circus!

 


FROM IRAQ – “I AM AND MY FAMILY ARE DEEPLY GRATEFUL (to) MR BLAIR”


I am and my family are deeply grateful for the salvation from Saddam’s terror by Mr.Blair. I don’t understand why so many people attack him. He only wanted to help. He did not tell lies. Saddam’s regime was as terrific [sic] (“horrific?”) as explained by Mr. Blair. It is easy for people living in the West to criticise. They don’t have to live here and don’t get killed by terrorists. Islam is peace!!!! Down with the fundamentalists!!!

 


FROM AN IRAQI – “DON’T LEAVE US NOT YET”


When Saddam’s people came to our village a nightmare became reality.Today,my country is a changed place. But please do not leave us to the mercy of the suicide bombers. They are not true Iraqis or true Muslims. We are not ready for you to go yet. Not yet.

 


FROM AN AFGHAN – “OUR ENEMY IS NOT TONY BLAIR BUT THE TALEBAN”


When the Taleban took over we left the country to flee from their terror regime. Only the insurgency groups stop us from being a real democracy years ago. We hope our country wins the battle against terrorism with the great help of America/Britain. Our enemy is not Tony Blair but the Taleban.

 


STOP MAKING BLAIR’S LIFE HELL

 

You should stop making Tony Blair’s life like a living hell. You should show some respect for him. Look what you have now as a Prime Minister. Wake the hell up England.

 


HE HAS BEEN TAUNTED AND TERRORISED ENOUGH

 

I believe that Tony Blair has been taunted and terrorised enough over the Iraq war, I want to see it end.

 


BLAIR SAVED THE UK

 

I think if I was the First Ministre of this time, I will exactly do the same. Cause It’s not a war about money or petrol like say the bitches, but it’s a necessity in this period where there’s terrorism. And if you don’t believe in it, forget all you know and let me ask you this question: Do you think what could happen if the terrorists of Al Quaida made a pact to attack the West with Saddam ?And I want to say again I don’t believe than Ben Laden made all this in the name of Allah.Blair saved UK

 


JUDGE IT IN THE ROUND

 

The decision to invade Iraq was taken in real time to free the people from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. It achieved this with little suffering and damage. It must be judged by what might have been expected to happen in the region without it. But very poor governance has caused much avoidable suffering. I blame Bush for this. But Blair’s faith in current Western secular democratic values has not helped. But many overvalue these especially Bush!

 

 

WORLD CLASS STATESMAN

People have short and selective memories – what about Kosova, Sierra Leone and Northern Ireland? Tony Blair is a world class statesman, and the EU should consider it an honour to have him as President.

Comments

Happy
quietzapple wrote:
Sunday, 24 January 2010 at 05:29 pm (UTC)
to be quoted. We'll build a majority in time.
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