Monthly Archives: January 2010

Jim Pickard

Channel Four and BBC’s Newsnight are vying to host a high-profile “chancellor’s debate” during the general election campaign, I’ve been told. Read more

Update: For early reactions to Blair at the Iraq inquiry, read this post from the ftdotcomment blog.

5.16pm: That’s it from me and Alex. I think Blair had the better of this: a refined defence and one, says former Lib Dem leader Ming Campbell, that was aimed at his legacy.

Some of those who heard him will be far from happy, particularly at his decision not to voice regret. Sky reporting Blair was jeered as he left the inquiry: “You are a liar,” shouted one person. “A murderer,” shouted another. Those who wanted to hear regret, says the BBC’s Nick Robinson, will be disappointed.

5.14pm: Well, there you have it. He’s sorry – for being divisive – but firmly believes the war was right. Sure, some things could have been done better (the intel and the planning), but with or without WMD, toppling Saddam was the right thing to do. We’d all be worse off if he was still there, not least because of the growing threat from Iran. Read more

2.56pm: OK, we’ve slowed the refresh time on the post and will set up a new window for rest of coverage. Should make it easier to read. Give us a minute. Click here to read Live blog: Tony Blair at the Iraq inquiry – part 2.

2.54pm: Blair says what he needed to know from him [Goldsmith] in the end was what was his conclusion? Was this lawful? “Incidentally, he wasn’t alone in international law for coming to that conclusion. As I say, if you read 1441, it was pretty clear this was Saddam’s last chance.”

2.52pm Classic politician’s trick from Blair: how can you not believe me? “When you go back and read 1441, it’s pretty obvious you can make a decent case for this,” he says, inviting agreement. Sir Rod will not be drawn. “Let me not pass judgment on this. I’m asking questions. I don’t have an opinion to state on this.” Read more

Jim Pickard

Pensioner poverty has fallen by nearly a million under Labour, says the ONS

“Learn to laugh at yourself” and “control aggression”: Anti-stress advice to Treasury officialsRead more

Jim Pickard

Geoff Hoon is worried that his local party activists will oust him ahead of the general election as punishment for his useless coup against Gordon Brown. I’m not sure he should be. Read more

Jim Pickard

The deputising Harriet Harman slipped in a neat riposte to William Hague during PMQs when she said: “His reversing is even worse than mine” – a reference to her spot of bother down in Peckham a few weeks back. Clearly she thought she should make the joke before Hague did.

She was less sure-footed when David Jones, a Tory MP, quoted the famous Mandelson quote about Labour being “intensely relaxed” about people getting “filthy rich”. In this light how did she feel about the commercial success of the former PM – ie Tony Blair? Read more

Jim Pickard

If you don’t follow Nick Robinson’s excellent blog it’s worth reading his last two offerings, about a secret meeting between the DUP, UUP and the Tories. There’s more in the Irish Times.

The venue was Hatfield House, home of Lord Cranborne, the former Tory MP* and peer who opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement negotiated by Margaret Thatcher and has long been regarded as a “friend of unionism”. Read more

Jim Pickard

Former legal adviser at the Foreign Office believed the Iraq invasion would be illegal

But don’t expect a smoking gun this week, argues Philip Stephens Read more

Jim Pickard

A reader calls to point out that Motorway Man even has his own theme tuneRead more

Jim Pickard

The former prime minister is not taking up an advisory post or directorship at Lansdowne Partners, as others are tweeting, or so the company insists.

However, he will give four “geopolitical” talks to staff at the hedge fund. At about £50-£100,000 per speech that still adds up to a generous payment. There are also well-placed suggestions that this could be extended in the future into a more permanent role. Read more

Jim Pickard

Trying to label the vital voters who make all the difference in a close-run general election is not always easy.

But a new demographic character called “Motorway Man” has been defined by Rob Hayward (you may remember the ever-wise Hayward told you about the potential clash between football fixtures and the election TV debate long before it made the news this weekend). Read more

Jim Pickard

Tories back off from plans to give Sir Richard Dannatt a peerage and job as defence minister

Lord Mandelson explains how he bought his abode: “If you ask me whether I would rather have my nice terraced house…or have my mother still alive today, I would prefer my mother still to be alive”. Read more