October 26: Blair’s apology hids the truth on Iraq

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A consummate master of spin

SHOULD JEREMY Corbyn require a lesson in spin, as he attempts to sell his Labour Party to the British public, he could do worse than study the latest interview given by his predecessor, Tony Blair.

As pressure grows on the former Prime Minister prior to the long delayed publication of the Chilcot report into the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Mr Blair has issued an apology for some aspects of the conflict. But it is hardly the apology that his many detractors have been demanding.

Mr Blair, however, has clearly decided that it is time to prepare the ground for the damaging criticism he is expected to receive when the report is eventually published.

He has therefore chosen his words very carefully, apologising for some mistakes in intelligence and planning prior to the invasion and conceding some truth in the charge that the war caused the rise of the self-styled “Islamic State” terrorist group.

Yet this is a mealy-mouthed version of reality. A proper apology would, at the very least, involve an acceptance of responsibility for allowing Washington to get away with a lack of proper planning for the aftermath of the invasion.

It would also involve an acceptance of the disastrous decisions to ban the Ba’ath Party from having any influence in post-Saddam Iraq and to disband the Iraqi security forces, thereby creating the pre-conditions for chaos and a host of willing recruits for armed terrorist groups.

There would also, surely, be an admission that the Blair government was directly responsible for the woeful way British troops were under-equipped and under-prepared for the tasks they had to perform.

There are many, of course, who would want Mr Blair to go even further. But rather than accept full responsibility for his role in the Iraq debacle, the former Prime Minister has merely told us what we already know, that he is a consummate master of spin.

Shoddy service: It is a public duty to speak out

DESPITE ALL the recent publicity given to the tide of complaints against energy companies, it seems that the full extent of consumers’ unhappiness is still hidden from view.

According to an investigation by the Ombudsman and the charity, Age UK, almost a million older customers are tolerating poor service and refusing to speak out about it, either because they simply hate to make a fuss or because they fear intimidation.

The traditional British stiff upper lip, the belief that minor irritations are to be suffered in silence, is an admirable virtue and one, these days, to be found almost exclusively among members of the older generation.

But, when it comes to refusing to confront those companies that are offering poor service to the public, it is often simply irresponsible not to take matters further.

An unwillingness to switch energy suppliers, revealed in new figures from Ofgem, is another indicator that complacency, rather than a desire to confront poor providers, is winning the day.

The reality, however, is that, if companies are giving bad service, they cannot be allowed to get away with it. When it comes to shoddy service, the duty to suffer in silence is far outweighed by the duty to speak out.

Arise Sir Geoffrey: Knighthood beckons for Boycott

TO MANY Yorkshire cricket supporters, of course, he has always been “Sir Geoffrey”.

Yet it now seems that the way may be clearing for an actual knighthood to be bestowed on one of the most popular and controversial characters in British sport, Geoff Boycott.

For nearly 20 years now, his name has been besmirched by a conviction in a French court for assaulting his then girlfriend. Yet now further evidence has emerged to suggest that he may have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

If this is the case, and there is much evidence gathered to support Boycott’s side of the story, then it is a huge boost to the campaign for this great Yorkshire and England batsman to be given the recognition that his sporting record merits.

Since the court case, Boycott has battled to rebuild his broadcasting career and also fought and defeated throat cancer with all the bloody-minded determination that he formerly showed on the cricket field.

He has also worked hard to support cancer charities and only recently succeeded in persuading Chancellor George Osborne to commit £1m towards the cost of a new air ambulance for Yorkshire.

High time, then, for Geoff Boycott’s reputation to be reconsidered?