With intense sadness and disappointment I begin the documentation of the transformation of my adopted city to its new status as a battlefield. When I arrived in 1997, London was suffering the last of the IRA. I got a bit worried; one bomb was close to where I used to work. But there were always warnings - the IRA wanted to cause economic damage, rather than kill people. Which in the light of 2005, is all rather gentlemanly. I'd rather do something else with my Saturday than write about terrorism - but I don't seem to be able to think about much else.
link: Protests erupt across the Muslim world
link: 'Plot to blow up planes' foiled - and hand luggage banned - that's right Tony, you go fight your neocon crusades, we'll just sit back and watch you wreck our lifestyle, OK?
link: Indonesians urged to buy weapons for Hezbollah, Hamas
|"[Blair] has become totally bereft of original thinking ... the single greatest triumph of what he calls Islamic terrorism has been in Iraq, which is a direct consequence of his own policy and that of George Bush." -- Former Conservative Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, August 2 2006
Tony Blair's astounding foolishness in picking a fight with terrorists - whoever they are - and exposing his own country, citizens and electorate to their embitterment is only matched by his astounding failure to acknowledge that this was a mistake. And now, when his citizens need leadership and vision the most, he and the rest of parliament go on holiday, for nearly 3 months.
Asked for comment on the second Tube attack, Blair said, "I'm not going to give a running commentary", and referred queries to the emergency services.
Hold it a second. A few years back, a running commentary was precisely what was coming out of Downing Street. Saddam Hussein (remember him?) was this really bad guy and just look at all these (forged) documents we have to prove it. Press conference? No problem, what time?
Now when the heat is on, Blair the lying coward ducks his responsibilities, not only as leader of the country but as the main reason the UK is exposed to these threats in the first place, and runs away, leaving the city to swirl in the fear and loathing that he himself created.
I am certain almost all the other 8 million residents of this city dearly wish they could do the same. That the privileges of power enable Blair to both create this problem for others, and then effortlessly escape it, is a bitter pill to swallow for the rest of us who are essentially trapped in this maelstrom of his making.
"Under clause 3 of the 1848 Treason Act ... it is a felony to 'express, utter, or declare, by publishing and printing or writing ... or by any overt act or deed' anything that supported anybody wishing to 'levy war against Her Majesty ... within any part of the United Kingdom'" (Daily Express, August 9) .. I don't see how Blair's behaviour is dissimilar to this description of treason. His illegal acts of war have increased the threat of terrorism in the UK; or in the words of the Act, Blair's acts of war have supported the growth of those wishing to levy war against the United Kingdom. Or is it only Muslims who can commit treason?
That 1 million people marched in London against the invasion of Iraq meant nothing to Blair. Those 1 million people were wrong, he said. I know better, he said. The chances of him knowing better, all else being equal, were of course 1 in 1 million, but despite these odds he persevered. Now, those 1 million people are among the 8 million who have been targeted twice by terrorists.
The effect of these terrorist attacks is to slow the city down. On a trouble-free day, London generates over half a billion pounds in GDP. If this city slows down, that figure falls. The net effects of Blair's misjudgements can now be measured in cash.
But perhaps the most telling of Blair's miscalculations was the claim that the enemy needed be defeated abroad before he attacked at home. This statement implies the enemy is in one place, while we are in another. But this is not how guerilla war is fought. In guerilla warfare, the enemy comes to you, whereever you may be, and at a time of their own choosing. That Blair failed to understand this is inexcusable.
When London was actually attacked and a chorus of experts said "we told you so" Blair's response was to flatly deny the assertion that his military adventures had endangered the UK; no doubt Icarus too remained steadfast in his resolve, even as his wings melted.
Perhaps Blair would prefer the testimony of a focus group to the evidence splattered inside a tunnel on the Piccadilly line?
The problem is that now, the country is under attack. The country cannot afford, in this time of crisis, a leader who makes gross mistakes, a leader who fails to acknowledge his mistakes, or, a leader who deserts his citizens when they need him.
In short, the country can no longer afford to accomodate the incompetence of Tony Blair. His non-participative, consultant-led style of government has been criticised in the past, and this is precisely the reason why; because without the checks and balances of open government, misjudgement on this scale can lead us to the situation we are now in.
This city is bleeding. A vote of No Confidence is the minimum I suggest.