Election Blog (11)
I think Jeremy Paxman had his collar felt after the Charles Kennedy interview. The one with Blair last night was firm but he didn't ask for detail's of Blair's doctor's latest medical assessment.
On Iraq, Blair said he never saw the Foreign Office legal team's opinion that the war was illegal (one of them resigned over this issue). We can't say this was a lie because we simply don't know. But we can say that it would be extraordinary if a Prime Minister did not see such advice. Of course, Blair, as a lawyer, often resorts to fine distinctions in these situations. Perhaps he didn't 'see' the advice but was simply told about it.
He suggested we read the Butler report because it had completely exonerated him. But when Paxman quoted Butler's damning indictment of Blair's style of Government, Blair blithely said that he didn't agree with it.
He again said he would serve a 'full term', a piece of nonsense I've referred to before. But Paxman didn't ask the obvious question: 'what do you mean by a full term? You can't stand down a few weeks before the next election.'
Paxman's question about Aids was a good one. 'Do you agree that condoms prevent the spread of AIDS? And will you say this to the Pope when you meet him?'
Blair did what he always does when he's bowled a googly or, for American readers, a question from the left field. He grinned from ear to ear as though Paxman had said 'Have you heard the one about the Pope, the Rabbi and the Ayatollah?' Naturally, he didn't answer such a bizarre and comic question.
It's not the fact that Blair smiles that irritates people. It's the use of the smile as a defence mechanism, the smile in inappropriate situations, the smile as weapon.
I'm always reminded of Shakespeare's Richard III: "I can smile, and murder whilst I smile."
The 100,000 dead in Iraq would appreciate the truth of that.