Jan 21, 2011
Tony Blair told one of his closest advisers a year before the invasion of Iraq that his government should be “gung-ho on Saddam” and had to “reorder our story and message” to convince public opinion of the need to get rid of him.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
His concern about the lack of support in the Labour party for regime change in Iraq is reflected in documents declassified by the Chilcot inquiry which show how Blair and his closest adviser were anxiously wondering how they could “make the case” for war.
“I do not have a proper worked-out strategy on how we would do it,” Blair told Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, shortly before his summit meeting with George Bush at the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas in April 2002.
After referring to the need for a “game plan”, he added: “I will need a meeting on this with military folk.”
Blair told Powell: “The persuasion job on this seems very tough. My own side are worried. Public opinion is fragile … Yet from a centre-left perspective, the case should be obvious. Saddam’s regime is a brutal, oppressive military dictatorship.”