Readers’ letters - July 11

Tony Blair responded to the Chilcot report during a press conference at Admiralty House, London, See letters
Tony Blair responded to the Chilcot report during a press conference at Admiralty House, London, See letters
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Time to leave Blair alone

The latest news regarding the Chilcot Inquiry and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, concerning his role in the war in Iraq, has also been a ‘war of words’ – some 2.6 million of them apparently.

For seven years, Mr Blair has had to put up with a most hostile level of ‘Blair-mongering’ in the media, whilst he has had to remain silent until the report was concluded, a situation endured by his good friend Sir Cliff Richard, who also had to keep schtum until exonerated by the courts.

It was good to see Mr Blair speaking out at last in his own words, extremely sensitive about the people who were killed, yet pointing out the difficult position he was in.

No doubt there will always be people who continue to vilify Mr Blair, like those heard on the television news reports who shouted “War criminal!” brandishing placards with the word “Bliar”on them or citing him as “the world’s worst terrorist.”

I had the privilege to prepare food for Mr Blair when he was Prime Minister, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in 2002 when he was conducting peace talks in the Middle East and I was a chef at the Tel-Aviv Hilton.

Saddam Hussein was a serious threat back then and I had to have a gas mask and underground bunker along with my Israeli friends, both Jewish and Arab, when the Iraqi tyrant was threatening to send a barrage of scud missiles and poison gas onto Tel-Aviv.

He wasn’t just sabre-rattling.

With the benefit of hindsight it is always easy to apportion blame, but Mr Blair has stood by his convictions and has shown integrity in the face of his detractors. Let’s hope after seven long years, a special Biblical number, that Mr Blair and his family can enjoy a bit of ‘Sabbath-rest’ after such an ordeal.

I was living in the city when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by his own people in Tel-Aviv because there were those who opposed him so vehemently for his actions, which were carried out with the intent also to help an intractable situation. I think now it’s time to leave Mr Blair alone.

Colin Nevin via email

Well done to Wales team

May I say well done to the Wales team, who put the over-paid, selfie-obsessed, so-called ‘celebrities’ of the England team to shame. Likewise their fans who have been, apparently, the epitome of politeness and good humour compared to some of the England fans.

The Welsh players made a point of applauding their fans at the end of the Portugal match, which is more than some England players bothered to do.

The fans have expressed their thanks to the team for doing so well and for providing such hope and entertainment (one of the main reasons sport is supposed to exist, let’s face it).

So, well done and thanks for entertaining me, a person who can, most of the time, get by quite happily without taking the slightest interest in footie.

T Maunder, address supplied

Let’s now change the vote system

If anything good has come out of the events of the last few weeks one thing is very obvious – for the first time in many people’s lives their vote has actually counted.

There has been much talk of the undemocratic nature of the EU but ironically MEPs have always been chosen by a far fairer system than our own MPs – by proportional representation.

Now that people have realised that their vote can count, it is surely time to replace our outdated and unfair first-past-the-post system which effectively disenfranchises many of us. Our governments are chosen by a few voters in a few marginal seats.

No wonder there is widespread apathy. It is time to change the system and take control.

Alison Harris via email

Wrong decision ended tragically

The long delayed Iraq War report lacerates what remains of Tony Blair’s reputation.

Chilcot confirms that the legal and intelligence evidence used by Blair to persuade Parliament to back invasion was ‘overplayed’. In short, exaggerated.

All diplomatic means to resolve the main issues were not exhausted. Saddam’s supposed WMD were also grossly exaggerated. Letters between Blair and Bush make it clear that Blair and Bush agreed to invade Iraq more than a year before the invasion.

Blair deliberately based the case for war on evidence that was flawed. The UN was treated by both leaders as of no consequence. The report confirms that, despite several warnings, post-invasion plans were extremely poor and led to sectarian violence on a massive scale. That violence continues today. Senior British and US military were to blame for some of this.

The failure to provide heavily armoured patrol vehicles is described in the report as ‘ intolerable’. The demands of the Afghanistan operation led to a decision to reduce troop levels in Iraq as soon as possible, a disastrous decision.

The invasion resulted in 150,000 Iraqi deaths by July 2009, these were mainly civilians. Over one million Iraqis were displaced.

Few if any come out of this report with credit. It is a damming indictment of politicians and some senior military. Over-arching the report is the fact that, after 9/11, Bush was determined to exact revenge on the ‘axis of evil’. Tony Blair was only too happy to support him with tragic results.

Dr Barry Clayton via email

Power addling Blair’s brain?

The Chilcot report would take as long to read it as it did to prepare it. A simpler line of investigation should have been taken into the mental state of Tony Blair at the time of the Iraq war.

Why would you risk the lives of thousands of people, and your future reputation, by following the policies of a man like George Bush? Here was a President who spoke in cliched versions of Hollywood B scripts on the most serious of topics. He could not even leave a room without walking into the broom cupboard.

Perhaps, not only fixed Parliaments of five years, but a similar time span for the Premiership should apply, thus reducing the possibility of prolonged power addling the brain.

Denis Lee, Ashton