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By some strange trick of fate I ended up watching Tony Blair’s press conference in the wake of the Chilcot report last week.

The word that came to mind was “hubris”.

It’s from the Greek. It means “arrogance before the gods”. It refers to a person in a powerful position who, deluded about his capabilities, and with extreme arrogance, performs an act that offends the natural order and who is then punished for his crime.

Such a man is Tony Blair. Vain. Conceited. Ambitious. Over-burdened with a sense of his own self-importance, serving power rather than questioning it, a stooge for the global ambitions of the neoliberal elites.

His performance before the TV cameras was painful to behold. The tremor in his voice, the look of practised sincerity as he made his apology and then retracted it immediately, saying that he would do it all again, made me sick with anger.

It was obvious that he had prepared his defence in advance, having had access to the report for many months. In fact it was probably Tony Blair’s interference that was partly responsible for its long delay.

He had clearly laboured long and hard over his speech: not just writing and rewriting the words, but working on every inflection to get exactly the right tone into his voice.

Chilcot had exonerated him, he said. The report showed that he had acted in good faith.

In fact, Chilcot says no such thing.

Here is an actual quote: “The judgements about the severity posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction were presented with a certainty that was not justified.”

I remember quite clearly Andrew Gilligan on the Today programme on the 29th May 2003, a few weeks after the invasion, quoting a senior intelligence source saying that the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been, in that unforgettable phrase, “sexed up” by the government.

The intelligence source turned out to be Dr David Kelly.

Later that day Alastair Campbell was doing the rounds of radio and TV stations, just as he was on the day of the Chilcot report, vigorously defending Blair.

As a consequence of this Gilligan lost his job and Dr Kelly lost his life, but Blair and Campbell remained in place to continue their relentless spinning of the news.

Does that sound like “good faith” to you?

Coincidentally, while I was researching the notion of hubris I came across another word which is indelibly linked to it. That word is “nemesis”.

Nemesis is the spirit of divine retribution carried out on those who succumb to hubris.

In modern terms a nemesis is someone who is a long-standing rival: an arch-enemy.

How apt. It’s almost as if we are watching a Greek tragedy unfolding before our eyes, as Blair meets his nemesis, in the form of Jeremy Corbyn.

The two men couldn’t be more different. Blair is charismatic, duplicitous, manipulative and deeply dishonest; Corbyn is mild, uncharismatic, a little bit boring perhaps, but fundamentally honest.

It’s almost certain that Blair is behind the attempt to remove Corbyn from the leadership of the Labour Party.

We will just have to see how the drama plays out next.

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The Whitstable Gazette.
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