Sun-Earther

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Clean sheet?

January 29, 2004

You know, I'm starting to think that Tony Blair is good mates with corrupt slippery media tycoon and Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi for a reason. He's getting escapology lessons. Silvio's managed to dodge many a huge clump of ordure flying his way many a time (although the recent squelching of his ministerial immunity law means that he's back on the back foot now), and somebody must have been giving Blair some tips. (Of course, it'd be cynical and low of me to mention that Berlusconi's in trouble for bribing judges.)

The sobriquet "Teflon" is no longer really adequate for Blair - I'm left wondering what the perfectly frictionless hull of Disaster Area's stunt ship was made from. Has he been hanging around playing guitar at a crossroads at midnight or something? (Probably playing come by fucking yah, the twunt.) Still, perhaps he's following the neocon lead again: I bet Dick Cheney'll get as easy a time from the US Supreme Court as Blair did from Hutton.

The most gobsmacking thing about Hutton's verdict is the bit where he says that John Scarlett might have been "subconsciously influenced" into strengthening the wording of the dossier by Blair's desire to have backing for his predetermined war. That's a good one isn't it? You could apply it anywhere.

"The prisoner was subconsciously influenced to fall down the stairs your honour."

Lesser men than Hutton might suggest that you might similarly conclude that Dr. Kelly might have been "subconsciously influenced" to top himself by Blair's desire that Kelly shut the fuck up and the revelation of his name, but of course that'd be an awful thing to say.

It's almost as if Hutton had been set a brief of producing a report that most closely matched Blairite political needs. After an initial flurry of rhetoric about punishing the BBC via the charter renewal process, the Government backed down after criticism that they were seeking to stifle BBC independence. Now that Hutton's laid the blame for the row that led to Kelly's death directly at the door of the Beeb the Government has a powerful weapon if it wants to give the corporation a thorough and sustained reaming with a broken meths bottle. If Alastair Campbell does have a grudge against Andrew Gilligan then I certainly don't fancy Gilligan's chances of keeping his job much.

The one good thing about this is that it's so spectacularly one-sided and so much evidence contrary to its conclusions has been publicly ignored by Hutton that very few people seem to be taking it seriously. It certainly doesn't seem to be giving the Blair his much-desired closure of the Iraq war/WMD subject. Still, maybe if he desires it hard enough the rest of us will be subconsciously influenced to move on.

Posted by Jonah at January 29, 2004 3:46 PM