Azara Blog: Greg Dyke sticks the knife into Tony Blair

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Date published: 2005/05/02

The BBC says:

Another Blair government would be a danger to democracy, former BBC director general Greg Dyke has said at a Lib Dem campaign news conference.

Mr Dyke said he had switched from Labour to the Lib Dems because he could not support a party led by Tony Blair.

Charles Kennedy said Iraq had "polluted the body politic" and that Britain would judge Mr Blair on Thursday.

Mr Blair insists he acted in good faith over Iraq. The Tories accuse him of lying over the case for the war.

Mr Dyke, who lost his job over a BBC report on the argument for the Iraq war, said it was now clear that Mr Blair and his Downing Street staff "did the same to the legal advice on the war in Iraq as they did to the intelligence".

"They chose parts that suited their case and conveniently failed to tell Parliament or the nation about the rest.

"In doing this they have undermined trust in our whole political system.

"After eight years of Mr Blair one can only conclude that our democratic system is in crisis as a result of his style of government."

Mr Dyke also likened the Labour government during the Iraq period to the Nixon Whitehouse.

"If you were a journalist and you didn't support their side, they tried to get you. If you supported them, they gave you stories.

"That's a very dangerous position for a democratic party to get into. You're either on our side, or you're the enemy."

Et tu, Brute? It's not that surprising that Dyke has turned on Blair, given the dreadful way in which Whitehall and the Blair spin machine managed to force his unwarranted resignation from the BBC. But the ferocity of his comments are amazing. And well aimed. Perhaps with all the sustained assault on his character, Blair will think twice about misbehaving further after the election (but unlikely, given his plans for further assaults on civil liberties).

Although most voters do not (seem to) care (much) about Iraq, it has been the big issue of the campaign. Usually the big issues in campaigns are about government spending, directly or indirectly. Some special interest group wants more money spent on something and manages to make a splash in the media pleading their case. This often happens with health issues. An aggrieved relative lambasts the government minister for not spending enough on the NHS, or more specifically, the disease (or whatever) that afflicts their loved one. The media lap this up, but of course never bother to ask the person whether they are willing to have their own taxes doubled to pay for it. Of course not, someone else should pay for it (the slogan of the modern political era).

This morning on the Today Programme on Radio 4 we had sculptor Antony (or Anthony, depending on the source) Gormley pleading his special interest, an "arts manifesto", i.e. more money for the arts. He said that arts spending had doubled under Labour from 200 to 400 million pounds, but that the next few years the budget would be frozen. How dreadful. He said he was not asking for the State to subsidise the arts but instead to act as a patron. New Labour should hire this guy, what a master of spin. Unfortunately to be a patron you need to spend your own money, and government is only spending other people's money, so it is a subsidy. Of course Britain is largely lacking patrons (universities also suffer from this problem) so without government subsidy many arts facilities would close up. However it would be nice if occasionally the BBC would give these special interests more of a hard time. If you added up all the money which the Today Programme thinks the government should spend on behalf of all the special interests of the world, the country would be bankrupt twice over.

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