BBC Question Time
April 28, 2005 6:39 PM   Subscribe

BBC - Question Time Leaders Special [Windows Media or RealMedia]
- Panorama: Iraq, Tony and the truth [transcript]
posted by Pretty_Generic (23 comments total)
Blair says in the Question Time debate that he didn't release the Attourney General's advice to Cabinet, because the Attourney General was right there in Cabinet, and any of them could ask him about his advice. I'd like him to suggest any reason why the Attourney General didn't mention his myriad reservations about the legality of war, apart from the obvious suggestion, which is that Blair was pressuring him not to do so.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:15 PM on April 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

" Blair says . . . the Attourney General was right there in Cabinet, and any of them could ask him about his advice."

Blair is lying about that one too. It's part of the public record that no questions were taken that day, and Claire Short and others have said that their requests for clarification on the legal advice were refused.
posted by insomnia_lj at 8:17 PM on April 28, 2005

There are two other candidates before Blair--if you want to skip ahead he's at about the 57 minute mark.
posted by zardoz at 8:28 PM on April 28, 2005

Ah, here it is...

Yesterday Clare Short, a member of the cabinet at the time, accused Lord Goldsmith of misleading his government colleagues.

Mr Blair also misled MPs by saying the cabinet was able to ask Lord Goldsmith questions about his legal advice, she said.

In a letter to Lord Goldsmith, Ms Short said that at the March 17 cabinet meeting she had tried to initiate a discussion. But she claimed that she was told not to ask such questions "and no discussion was allowed".

posted by insomnia_lj at 8:38 PM on April 28, 2005

So, how big an effect will all this have? Is Tony a Teflon Prime Minister? Will more people go LibDem or (God forbid) Tory?
posted by amberglow at 8:59 PM on April 28, 2005

I can't see how more people would go Tory rather than LibDem. After all, their leader basically admitted to the fact that he would make essentially the same decision.

He'd just publically violate international law by declaring an illegal war, rather than doing so discreetly... After all, Saddam was just so damn threatening.

Oooga booga.
posted by insomnia_lj at 9:22 PM on April 28, 2005

It could be argued the ball started rolling on the "legal advice" when the Katherine Gunn and the UN spying case went to court. The Government dropped the Official Secrets Act case against her, and *sources* say it was over fear of exposing the Goldsmith brief.

On the advice itself, here's a pretty good annotated Goldsmith brief [PDF]. Lord Lester, a Liberal Democrat peer and Queen's Council, looks over the document that gave Tony a *clever excuse* for War. From the additional comments in that document, Lester says:

“When an important issue goes to cabinet they are given the balance of the argument both ways. If the reality is that a senior minister -- in this case the most senior law officer -- has at least a very qualified view, with lots of reservations in it, you can’t reach an informed decision without knowing what the qualifications are. We had a debate in the House of Lords about the legality of war -- that’s when they produce the summary of the advice saying the contrary. We were as much misled as the cabinet. It’s outrageous, actually. I’m sorry to be so indignant but I really feel that we’ve all been had.

That's my emphasis.

Will it effect Tony? It's pitiful, but I only hope it fucks up his own constituency, and a few of those other Blair clones. I think a bit of tactical voting is necessary here, unfortunately, the Tories are a known quantity and their leader is a little... creepy. With slimy policies and a kind of single issue politics catered to tap the "hate the other, rivers of blood!!" hindbrain thinking.
posted by gsb at 12:32 AM on April 29, 2005

What's going to happen is that Labour are going to win, but Blair's credibility is already shot. It's inconceivable that he'll serve another full term. Despite Gordon Brown's popularity, the fact is that he's just as culpable.

It's annoying that the LibDems are still not seen as a party of Government, so will continue to struggle to rise much above 20% in the polls.
posted by salmacis at 1:13 AM on April 29, 2005

It was decent viewing, Kennedy did pretty well for himself.
posted by fire&wings at 2:53 AM on April 29, 2005

I hate this election. I want to vote for a left wing or green candidate, but I don't want to let the Tories in by voting Lib Dem. Therefore, I'm a nosepeg voter.

The only good thing I can see coming out of this is that hopefully the Lib Dems have enough sway in the next government (a severly reduced Labour majority would ensure this) to get the Jenkin's report back on the agenda.
posted by johnny novak at 3:33 AM on April 29, 2005

johnny novak: Don't do it. Vote Lib Dem. Do *not* get caught in the trap of "Anybody but...."

That's what liberals in the US did. "Anybody but Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Dole, Bush..." What happened?

Well, the Dems (quite correctly, I must add) realized that since they had those votes locked up, there was no reason to bother trying to keep them happy. So, they didn't, and the whole democratic party shifted Tory-wards, I mean, rightwards.

By the time we realized what had happened, it was too late.

Can't happen in the UK? It's already happening!

Vote Lib Dem with pride. Maybe you'll pay with another Tory government -- but Labour will stop being Tory Lite if, and *only if* you vote against them. Then, next time, properly chastened, you can vote Labour with pride.

If enough of you nosepeg voters vote Lib Dem, you'll get the best of both worlds -- you'll crush Blair *and* the Tories, and make the Lib Dems the opposition, and Labour a minority government. This would be huge in getting what you want out of government.

If enough of you nosepeg voters vote Labour, you'll get a strong Labour majority and five more years of Blair, who will assume that he has your support in what he is doing, since, after all, you keep voting for him.

If you vote Blair, the message you send is simple -- you support what Blair did. You support what labour has become. You have to treat each election as a confidence vote on the current government.

Because, you know, if you're going to hold your nose and vote Labour, why should Labour change? They've got your vote locked up. Why not invade Iran? Why not ID cards? Why not raise school fees again? Obvious, Labour supporters agree -- they voted for us! Whatever Blair is doing, it will have won him three elections solidly. Why should they change what they are doing? Why would they change what they are doing?

Short answer. They won't. Don't do it. I beg you. "Anybody but..." means you'll try to elect anybody -- even the clone of what you claim to oppose.
posted by eriko at 4:23 AM on April 29, 2005

The two lawyers and Charlie were given half an hour each to be questioned individually by the TV audience on Mr Dimbleby’s “Question Time” program. It was done this way because Mr Lawyer wanted to be separated from the leader of the A.O.L.I. because of he is frightened of spitting and hot pokers. By the end of the program, Mr Lawyer definitely had the two week old shrimp and custard feeling and I think the leader of the A.O.L.I. will think very carefully about letting his own bottom get near to hot pokers. Charlie, on the other hand performed superbly. He fairly revelled in saying some things he knew I wouldn’t like and came over as human being with some failings.

I’m going to vote LibDem.
posted by cassbrown1 at 4:59 AM on April 29, 2005


Well said, but unfortunately it's a straight fight between Labour and Con in the constituency in which I live. A Lib Dem vote would be wasted here as they are 3rd by a long, long way.
posted by johnny novak at 5:07 AM on April 29, 2005

Why is a vote for a losing candidate any more of a "waste" than a vote for a winning candidate, assuming he wins by more than 1 vote? Neither makes any difference. That's first-past-the-post for you.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:33 AM on April 29, 2005

Did anyone see Newsnight where they interviewed three "floating voters" who were quite clearly rabid supporters of each of the three parties, just trying to get on TV? Top stuff.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:40 AM on April 29, 2005

Excellent coverage also given by Channel 4 in their exploration of "Why politicians can't tell the truth" which was as much an exploration of how similar the parties policies are when you scrape away the rhetoric, and how afraid politicians are of alienating anyone, with policies being determined by pandering to focus groups.

The BBC, on the other hand, where coaching people in the dying art of the heckle, which featured ageing proper politicians (not afraid to upset people from time to time) lamenting the loss of what they saw as an essential and valid mode of democratic scrutiny and debate.

So, how big an effect will all this have? Is Tony a Teflon Prime Minister? Will more people go LibDem or (God forbid) Tory?

Not much. The British love to hate their politicians, and will happily berate them and vote for them simultaneously. To the quirky British, this is not hypocrisy. Tony might have been a little economical with the facts when it came to the war on Iraq, but at least that gives us something to shout about. Deep down in the British psyche is our pride in our bloody heritage, the fact that we don't mind people lying so long as they do it soundly. We may grumble a bit, but phrases like "national interest" and "defence of the realm" whisper in the back of our minds. We simply like a nice bit of war now and then.

Labour have sailed the good ship Economy soundly, albeit through relatively clement climes thus far. They seem to be spending a suitable amount of money on schools and hospitals, and although we grumble about high taxes (they're not that high at all, really) we do like a struggle in the name of a good cause. Tories might say it's being misspent but good old aunty Eileen's hip replacement went swimmingly and she said the nurses were all very nice, so...

The trouble is, 8 years ago and the wounds are still fresh. The memories from the Tories' last two terms in office are at least as strong as those under Labour despite them being longer ago. Why? That made such an appalling mess of it, and, 8 years on, a massively plausible time in which to legitimately shift policy, they still sound like utter pillocks talking about investment in schools and hospitals. The same faces are feeding us the hypocrisy. The Tories are making big deals out of hypocrisy and Tony Blair being a liar. We have legitimate concerns on both scores, but we are well aware of them 2 years ago, and banging on about them know smacks of desperate opportunism. Mr Howard comes across slightly smug, and after his role in implementing the poll tax he has the least reason of anyone in government to look it.

We like the LibDems. We like them a lot. We can't take them entirely seriously. We're not sure that their anti-war policy wasn't as opportunistic as anything coming out of the Tory camp since and we're not sure it's entirely realistic in the modern world order. Oh, it's all very respectable, of course, commendable even. But when the bombs start going off we don't want a leader that's afraid to do what's necessary. Besides, they don't have a proven track record on anything and so, are essentially, all talk. They have a few recognisable faces, but do they even have enough serious manpower to fill a cabinet room? We have no idea. Maybe we should give them a try. I am sure, for many of us, the pen will be poised next to the LibDem candidate's box but, at the last minute, we'll see sense. There is only one sensible option.

Not my views, necessarily... just attempting to channel Joe Public, here
posted by nthdegx at 7:21 AM on April 29, 2005

Yes, I agree with much of what nthdegx says. For our friends across the Atlantic hoping for a huge swing to the LibDems, it just isn't going to happen. They aren't going to form the next Government, and they aren't even going to come close to unseating the Tories as the official Opposition.

jonny novak: yup, based on your constituency, you must vote Labour. Luckily, Oxford East is a LibDem target, so I can happily vote for them without letting the Tories in.
posted by salmacis at 7:54 AM on April 29, 2005

"unfortunately it's a straight fight between Labour and Con in the constituency in which I live..."

Then my advice to you would be to go to and "swap votes" with a Labour voter in an area where the LibDem have a chance at winning, or perhaps call up a few random people in, say, Sedgefield, and ask if they'd be willing to vote for Reg Keys in exchange for your Labour vote elsewhere.

P.S. - Don't worry too much about the Conservatives coming to power. It's not gonna happen. Blair will be back, even if he gets just 29% of the vote... Blair could become PM even if Labour came in third in the election, infact.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:34 AM on April 29, 2005

Sooner or later, Labour will lose an election. There is no guarantee that the Tories will be any better then than they are now. Vote against the Prime Minister who took the UK into an illegal and unjustifiable war. Do not, like Polly Toynbee, allow the comparatively minor benefits that Labour may offer to British children to outweigh the slaughter of the innocents in Iraq. A clear message should be given to British politicians that they cannot have a free hand in foreign policy. A clear message should be given to the Labour leadership that we will not elect them to be the supporters of imperial adventurism.
posted by TimothyMason at 12:44 PM on April 29, 2005

Interesting. The British magazine, New Statesman did a reader survey with 1004 replies, and found that 34.3% are backing the Liberal Democrats and 28.4% are backing Labour.

The same poll showed that a solid 50.5% backed Labour in the last election. Ouch... especially considering that this polling took place before the leak of Attorney General Goldsmith's legal advice on war in Iraq.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new polls throughout the upcoming week, and fully expect the LibDem to top 25% in the election.
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:55 PM on April 29, 2005

What eriko and TimothyMason said.

Please, Brits, do not vote for a war criminal and the craven war crime enablers who backed him. Or for that foulness Howard, who would, as has been pointed out, have done the same damned thing. Punish the bastards. Please vote Lib Dem. So they won't win? Then at least let those severely narrowed margins scare the festering crap out of that smug, egomaniacal little war criminal and his supine crew of spineless shits.

I already did my bit. Postal vote.
posted by Decani at 2:19 PM on April 30, 2005

Well if you voted Lib Dems is it not concievable that them and Labour could form a coalition? Don't the Lib Dems have a proposal that they'd bring in Proportional Represntation if they ever get into government?

That would solve the wasted vote issue forever.
posted by daveirl at 4:50 PM on April 30, 2005

I'm sure many of you have seen the 'whoshouldyouvotefor' style sites where you express your views on policies and then they tell you which party you really should be voting for based on their respective policy positions.

What if we actually did away with the idea of choosing a candidate and just asked people to fill in a policy questionnaire at the polls? It'd be far healthier for our democracy!
posted by drewlondon at 8:01 PM on April 30, 2005

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