‘Bliar’: Former PM bears brunt of protest

Posted on January 4, 2010


Anti-war protestors gathered outside the Chilcot inquiry to voice their displeasure at former Prime Minister Tony Blair on the day that he gave his evidence.

The protests were less vociferous and less well-attended than in the past, however, with those bearing placards and chanting anti-Blair slogans heavily outnumbered by police and journalists.

Those that were there still made themselves heard, with banners bearing the slogan ‘Bliar’ and songs labelling the former Prime Minister, who stepped down in 2007, a war criminal.

Facing the inquiry, Mr Blair defended his actions in taking Britain to war in Iraq, saying he would do the same thing again. He described Saddam Hussein as a “monster”, and said Iraq posed a serious threat to “not just the region but the world”. He also made references to new alleged threats, including Iran.

The protest was attended by groups such as Stop The War and the Socialist Workers Party, who handed out leaflets and sold dossiers listing questions the general public wished to ask Mr Blair.

Yet while those that did attend were clearly passionate about their cause, the protest was indicative of the decline of the anti-war movement, which was able to attract nearly one million people to the first protest against the Iraq war back in February 2003.

On that occasion, there were a range of supporters, including then-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the Daily Mirror and Greenpeace. But, even though the war rumbles on and people continue to die in Iraq, it seems that many have lost interest.

A police officer confirmed that there had been more people protesting against Blair earlier in the day, at the time when he was due to arrive, but that the crows had slowly ebbed away. Protesters did not get a chance to directly confront Mr Blair, as he entered the building away from the crowds.

Those that were there were keen to promote the importance of making their voices heard and continuing to protest against the ongoing war.

One said: “I came down here today because it’s something I believe in, and I think it’s important to show our faces and show that there people who don’t want them to get away with what they did.”

One particularly committed campaigner donned a Blair mask and stood in a makeshift cage all day, waving his blood-smeared hands at passers-by. This proved of particular interest to photographers, but it is likely that he found it just as difficult to rally any more support than his colleagues.

UKIP candidate Margot Parker, who attended the event to show respect for those who lost family members in Iraq, agreed that the event was poorly attended and unlikely to yield any results.

“It’s a shambolic protest,” she said. “It was a rotten war, and very badly handled. We have been tricked.”

The Chilcot inquiry was unlikely to give the British people the answers it wanted, she said.

“Blair is a superb actor. I can’t see there being any tangible result from this.”

Posted in: Politics