Ten years ago today, on March 18, 2003, Tony Blair delivered a speech to parliament prior to a vote that resulted in MPs authorising war on Iraq. The war began two days later.
Last month, a Guardian leader recalled Blair's role:
'A decade ago, Tony Blair was lifting his sparkling rhetoric to new heights, whipping up fears of an imminent threat, claiming to hear echoes of Munich, and encouraging dreams of a post-Saddam world where tyranny was in retreat. As the forgotten and fraudulent second dossier was being foisted on journalists, he was perfecting the lines that would soon carry a belligerent majority in the Commons, lamely indulged by Iain Duncan Smith's excuse for an opposition. Most politicians, and too much of the media, swallowed it all wholesale. The public, however, smelled a rat.'
They certainly did. At the time, however, a Guardian leader described Blair's March 18 performance as 'an impassioned and impressive speech by the prime minister which may give future generations some inkling of how, when so many of his own party opposed his policy so vehemently, Tony Blair nevertheless managed to retain their respect and support...'
The editorial added:
'Mr Blair spoke powerfully. He was serious in tone, respectful to backbenchers, and at times he reached levels of oratory that he rarely achieves in the Commons. He seemed to sense that, though the argument has not been won, it is swinging his way.'
About one-fifth of the article, four sentences, offered oblique, minor criticisms of Blair's 'failure to respect the arguments... In particular he remains deaf to the revulsion against the gratuitous actions' of his US ally with its 'disdain for international opinion'.
Read the rest . . .