Impeach Tony Blair
August 26, 2004 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Impeach Tony Blair. Backed by a large dossier, supported by a handful (so far) of UK members of parliament. Summarised by The Spectator.
posted by iffley (21 comments total)
In the eloquent words of Boris Johnson:

It is not so much that he lied (though many of his statements were at odds with reality): it is rather that he used all his lawyerly arts, and all the trust that is naturally reposed in his office, to communicate to the public a vast untruth.

He told us that Saddam Hussein was a present and growing threat to British interests, when this was not the case. He told us that his information was based on reports that were "extensive, detailed and authoritative", when the intelligence services - for all their failings - had inserted crucial saving clauses.

The charge against Blair is that he wilfully misrepresented the facts to the Commons and to the country when we voted to go to war.

posted by iffley at 11:20 AM on August 26, 2004

This Tony Blair, is he, like, a Senator or something?
posted by psmealey at 11:50 AM on August 26, 2004

Oh God. I'm agreeing with Boris fucking Johnson.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2004

From what I understand, the House of Commons has to vote through the impeachment, with a majority.

Considering the number of evil schemes New labour has voted through with majorities despite opposition from within their own ranks, I reckon this'll just fizzle to nothing when it comes to the vote.

But, man, it'd be "sweet", as I believe is the common parlance, if the forked-tongue f***er was impeached.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2004

hmm, I was under the impression TB could be sort of "thrown out" by his party if he didn't have enough support in parlement. I guess I was wrong?
posted by delmoi at 12:07 PM on August 26, 2004

I don't think Blair has much support left in the Labour party, but his party knows that getting rid of him would almost certainly lead to Michael Howard becoming the next Prime Minister.

It's also worth remembering that the Conservatives all voted for the war. They've been trying to 'do a John Kerry' by saying that they only voted for it because it was misrepresented to them, but that's obviously BS, especially given that lots of Labour backbenchers and the whole Liberal Democrat party voted against the war.
posted by reklaw at 12:17 PM on August 26, 2004

I can't quite remember [biffa almost certainly can...] what the mechanism is, but it's something like this - the PM is whoever leads the largest party in the House of Commons. The position is decided by a complicated electoral college, in which the Labour MPs [the Parliamentary Party] are weighted heavily. If an election is triggered - by petition, resignation or whatever - I do think that Blair is vulnerable, with Gordon Brown being odds-on t succeed him.

The likelihood is that that would occur long before any impeachment, no matter how resonant that sounds on the colonial side of the pond. It is not a regular process, in this country.

In fact, I'd say it sounds profoundly undemocratic: let him stand at the next election and get the shaft, not scuttle away like Thatch did.

posted by dash_slot- at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2004

looks like they've got more than enough on their hands trying to connect to their local SQL server, nevermind impeaching the current prime minister.
posted by nylon at 1:13 PM on August 26, 2004

I never understood why the Conservatives voted for the war. Traditionally, it's the role of the opposition party to do exactly the opposite of the controlling party, even if the question is about if Blunkett's dog should be allowed 'comfort' breaks.

When they were as unpopular as they were, I didn't undertsnad why the didn't go against the war, and (potentially) keep all their loyal supporters and gain the anti-war Labour guys.
posted by twine42 at 1:50 PM on August 26, 2004

I can't see Blair being booted any time soon. New Labour are well aware that the teflon boy is their golden goose. Brown is too old-school for "Middle England" and Howard is such a non-entity that the Conservatives are all but powerless. New Labour are positioned in such a way on the political spectrum that the only challengers are the Lib Dems (which might be nice for a change) or the BNP (lord help us).

If only John Smith had lived - there was a great Labour Party man...
posted by longbaugh at 1:53 PM on August 26, 2004

...who may or may not have won one election. Nice guy, but...
posted by dash_slot- at 2:15 PM on August 26, 2004

This is political grandstanding by a nonentity Plaid Cymru Member of Parliament (the Welsh nationalists) - it's telling that the co-author of the paper is noted for having written "The Beauty Queens’ Guide to World Peace"

In any case, even if Tony Blair was impeached it would not mean necessarily that he would stop being Prime Minister. The law is quite simple in relation to the appointment of the PM and the government (in that order), although in practice there is some complexity:
  • The Monarch (currently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II) is the only person able to 'hire or fire' the PM
  • The PM may stand down at any time
  • The Monarch will require the PM to stand down if a motion of no confidence has been passed by parliament
  • When the PM stands down, the Monarch will normally ask the leader of the largest parliamentary group to form a government.
After a general election it is commonly assumed that the 'winner' automatically gets to form the new government - not so. If the PM (from before the election) chooses not to stand down then they may attempt to form a minority government - only if they return to parliament and a motion of no confidence is passed will the Monarch force them out. I believe that Canada has a similar system and has many minority governments over the past 50 years (the UK had a minority Labour government for about 6 months in 1974)

Fairly recently, a majority of Labour members quite clearly still supported Blair. Also, recently, Tony Blair is still 8% ahead of Michael Howard in terms of who the UK populace think would make the best PM. TB might not be very popular, but the only person who might be preferred would be Gordon Brown (and I don't belive that he will ever make an overt move to oust TB).

At the moment, Michael Howard is one of Labour's greatest weapons - he was a joke as Home Secretary and since then he has become worse!

Note: In addition to being editor of the Spectator, Boris Johnson is also a Conservative Member of Parliament.
posted by daveg at 2:52 PM on August 26, 2004

daveg -- Not quite true, in this case. Yes, most of your facts are dead on, but Impeachment [PDF] in the UK is special. The short form:

Commons may debate impeachment. Should they put that to the question, and it pass, a member of the house goes to the Lords and formally announces that the person, Peer or Common, has been impeached.

Then, a committee of Commons draws up the formal charges, and presents them to the Lords. The Lords then can make written questions of the accused, who may reply. Those replies are forwarded to Commons, who may reply to the reply. After that, the Lords vote, from most junior Baron to the Lord High Steward.

Should they vote that the charges are valid, this is forwarded to the Commons, who decides punishment (and, if they don't punish, there is none.)

The kicker -- under the Acts of Settlement, the Sovereign has no right of pardon from impeachment. Impeachment may continue between sessions, or even across Parliaments -- so Blair couldn't even call elections to avoid the proceedings.

It was suggested in 2003 that Impeachment be formally eliminated from the law -- it hasn't been used in quite some time. But that suggestion was never acted upon.

Should Tony Blair be impeached, he becomes a felon, unless pardoned by the Commons, and he could not sit in Commons nor the Privy Council -- both which would end his tenure as Prime Minister.
posted by eriko at 4:35 PM on August 26, 2004

priceless - i notice the first google ad on the sidebar goes to

impeachment: there's no better way to say thanks.
posted by nylon at 5:59 PM on August 26, 2004

Surely the question on everyone's mind must be, is the impeachment dossier "sexed up"?
posted by clevershark at 11:31 PM on August 26, 2004

I for one would pay to see Blair arrested by Blackrod. The pageantry!

Also, anyone who thinks that Blair standing down/being booted out would lead to the Tories winning the election is clearly utterly fucking insane. There's more chance of Dennis Skinner becoming PM than Michael Howard.
posted by influx at 1:40 AM on August 27, 2004

If Gordon was leader of the Labour Party then they're still 10 points ahead of the tories according to this poll

That said, when it comes to an election the tories are in a terrible situation because people aren't scared* of a labour government the way they were when Thatcher was around.

*Except for Blunkett, that man scares everyone.
posted by fullerine at 2:00 AM on August 27, 2004

Fucking BLIAR!
posted by acrobat at 3:28 AM on August 27, 2004

eriko: good catch - my battered copy of Constitutional and Administrative Law has nothing on impeachment. Erskine MayFilter!

That said I don't see how it could possibly happen. Like a vote of no confidence it would require a Commons majority and as turkeys don't vote for Christmas Labour MPs won't vote for their party's humiliation.

If Peter Kilfoyle, Jenny Tonge et al think that they have a case procedings in the High Court would seem the sensible way in which to procede. If they can prove on the balance of probabilities that the allegations in the Case to Answer report Blair's position becomes untenable.

Elsewhere, a fantastic resource on the death of standards in public life. Lizzie, it seems, was wasting her time.
posted by dmt at 11:17 AM on August 27, 2004

I don't think impeachment would be popular with the Labour party. Labour spent so many years in the wilderness due to in-fighting and impeaching your own leader doesn't give the impression of harmony.

I think Blair will be allowed to stay on, he'll doubtless lose loads of MP's in the next election and that will be when the knives come out.
posted by dodgygeezer at 3:12 PM on August 27, 2004

I'm trying to find a way to steer the conversation back to Boris Johnson...
posted by wibbler at 8:28 AM on September 3, 2004

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