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EDITORIAL Hoon revelations succeed in uniting the nation – against Blair

IF POLITICIANS of all descriptions trust that their mistakes and misdeeds, crimes of omission and commission, and private conspiracies remain secret, none desire more the silent passage of history than the Right Honourable Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair KG.

As public opinion strips the gloss off his regally induced rehabilitation, it is to his doubly disgraced minister of defence Geoff Hoon that we owe the further confirmation — which comes as no surprise whatsoever — that the former prime minister was not just a liar but one with a close eye to the future possibility that his mendacity might be revealed.

Hoon claims that he was ordered by Downing Street to destroy a secret memo from the attorney general that warned that the 2003 attack on Iraq was illegal. 

The instrument of Blair’s will, we are told, was Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, who transmitted the orders to the MoD permanent secretary.

The “dodgy dossier” of “sexed-up” fake intelligence reports which gave Blair the edge in persuading gullible and gormless Labour MPs to join the Tories in backing the Iraq invasion was the product of the ingenious and malign imagination of Blair’s liar-in-chief, Alastair Campbell, whose own media-managed rehabilitation will suffer a setback with this confirmation that the nation’s suspicions were bang on target.

If there were some ministers in Blair’s cabinets who served with decency and discretion, we can be sure that Hoon was not one of them. 

In his earlier roles he was among the most dogged of New Labour’s servile servants in backing Gordon Brown’s categorical refusal to depart from the previous Tory regime’s cuts agenda.

As defence secretary, Hoon was infamous for his remark that the mothers of Iraqi children killed by RAF cluster bombs, in retrospect, might one day thank the British military.

Today it is the mothers of British soldiers killed in imperial wars who see Blair’s knighthood as an insult to the memory of their sons.

Lest we credit Hoon’s delayed reaction to being humiliated by Blair with any elevated sensibility, remember he was defence secretary while British forces intervened militarily in Sierra Leone (2000) and Macedonia (2001) and launched wars on the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq. 

He kept shtum at both the Hutton and Chilcot inquiries. He left Parliament after being caught in a lobbying sting operation by Channel 4’s Dispatches. 

Parliament’s standards and privileges committee banned Hoon for a minimum five years. As is customary with the empire’s loyal servants, he got a job shilling for a military helicopter firm.

Today he has a book to sell.

Just three in 100 people “strongly approve” of Blair’s knighthood. Among Labour supporters, 56 per cent disapprove. A substantial 79 per cent of Tories disapprove of Her Majesty’s award and the only sector where anything substantial in the way of approval for her invitation to Blair to enter her Order of the Garter is among Liberal Democrats. Even in that poisoned well of opinion, a majority disapprove.

On this issue alone prospects for a so-called “progressive alliance” that might include the Lib Dems seem compromised, although the figures suggest — as do so many indicators — that the place where opinions of right-wing Labour and Lib Dem MPs coincide almost never corresponds with the opinions of a great majority of British people.

If we take that highly fallible index of “progressive” opinion — the division between Leavers and Remainers — a full 77 per cent of Leavers are joined by a respectable 55 per cent of Remainers who disapprove. Just one in 12 Leavers and one in four Remainers back the Queen on this one.

The nation has reached a substantial unity.

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