Questions for Blair

Tony Blair’s appearance at the Iraq inquiry on Friday has proved a gift to journalism: “Questions Blair must answer” has become the standard outlet for outrage over the botched invastion. Even the BBC is trying to anticipate what questions Blair will actually be asked.

Here’s a selection:
Was it all tied up at the Crawford meeting with Bush?
Would he have invaded anyway even if he knew there were no WMD?
The 45 minutes claim and the rest of the dodgy dossier: was pressure put on the spooks to fabricate evidence?
Did he put the thumbscrews on Lord Goldsmith to make him approve the legality of the war?
Was the army under-resourced?
Did he even thinkabout the aftermath of the invasion?

Examples include the Telegraph, Guardian, Telegraph readers, the Observer, Evening Standard, Left Foot Forward, the 38 Degrees Campaign, and Philippe Sands,

Funnier, though less likely to be right, are Richard Ingrams, who wants to be pointed to the biblical passages George W. Bush might have referred to at the Crawford meeting with Blair, and Iain Martin, who wants to know what Blair had to eat at the famous Granita lunch where he stitched up the leadership with Gordon Brown. Norman Geras’s irony is well applied to one of the questions. The best serious analysis of the genre, though, comes from John Rentoul at the Independent, who goes through the questions and dismisses them point by point.

Of course, almost no one expects Blair to actually answer the questions, no matter what he is asked.

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Christopher Cook is an FT editorial writer. Before joining the FT in 2008 as a Peter Martin Fellow, he worked for three years for the Conservative party.

Lorien Kite is deputy comment editor, a post he took up in 2009 after four years as a commissioning editor on the analysis page. He joined the FT in 2000.

Ian Holdsworth became assistant features editor in 2009 and was previously chief production journalist for the features pages.


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