At the Leveson Inquiry, were they too soft on Tony Blair?

All blog posts 2012 + Original, from 2006 to 2012

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5th June 2012

There were, in the main, two versions of Tony Blair at the Leveson Inquiry last week –

  • 1. “He was brilliant, as usual.”
  • 2. “He was despicable, as usual.”

In between there were, to be fairer to the press than some have been to him, some variations.

DOWN TO BUSINESS

Tony Blair at Leveson. Question: Was he thinking – “Hope I’ve got my glasses”? OR -“I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse”?  Answer: Depends who’s writing about him.

SMIRK (NOT) A LOT. YOU’RE ON CANDID CAMERA

As I watched the Leveson Inquiry (see it here am and here pm if you missed it) even I wondered at times if he was being given rather an easy pass. I suppose that’s because I’d like him to be more ‘guns-blazing’, to shut up the antis. This is no criticism of the Inquiry itself.  I’ve never criticised those involved in running the Inquiry or its procedures. Never apart from the other day when I mentioned the young lady on the left in the picture below.  Alone amongst the legal beavers and journalists behind Robert Jay QC she seemed to think an interloper at the Royal Courts of Justice was something to smirk about. I notice she hasn’t been around in that prominent position since then.

Mr Blair, on the other hand, never smirked or even smiled at inappropriate moments as I pointed out in this post. But if he had come out all guns blazing it might allow me some time to get my life back for a start. But enough of this selfishness.

  • He did come out at the Inquiry with the Daily Mail in his sights. For that we can all be grateful.
  • He also came out with reasons why he ‘flirted with’ Murdoch’s press. For that his party can be grateful.
  • He reminded us that he had mentioned much of the Leveson Inquiry’s issues in his feral press speech a couple of weeks before he left office. For that reminder some in the press will not be grateful.
  • He also pointed out that opining does not equal reporting, and that its differentiation has never been required to be made clear in the British press. For that… press… ungrateful etc.
  • He also made it clear that he understands the issues around today’s social media & lies-halfway-round-world-before-truth-boots. For that some semi-informed tweeps may not be so grateful.

In fact there was little in his evidence that could be countered as not being valid or of value.

As to my question – were they too easy on him? Only if you thought he was there to account for and justify the umpteen issues various factions of the press have with him. He wasn’t. He didn’t.

Much of the press couldn’t actually answer Mr Blair’s criticisms. Instead they chose just to pose some questions in quotation form. Yes, we get the innuendo.

If Mr Jay and Sir Brian Leveson treated him as though he were a civilised human being with some life experience rather than a barbarian (as some would have us believe) it is because the legal people are right, and the excessively opinionated wonks are wrong.

Mr Blair had laid out beforehand in his written evidence to the Inquiry most of what he had to say. They had clearly taken much of it onboard. By the time the Inquiry had got around to interviewing the former prime minister they knew much of the bones of the political viewpoint already. His evidence only gave that skeleton some flesh.

Tony Blair’s Witness statement to Leveson prior to his appearance.

Exhibit to Witness statement –  As in The Guardian (London), July 17, 1995 – BLAIR’S NEW LEFT WARNING TO MURDOCH, by Michael White And Christopher Zinn. Excerpt:

“TONY BLAIR warned the high command of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire last night that the Thatcherite free-market policies they espoused in the 1980s had failed to provide the social and economic stability needed to manage the technological revolution they unleash.”

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