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'Blair had no doubts over Iraq invasion'

Campbell, Blair’s chief media adviser, says that other figures in Blair’s Govt had serious doubts about following the path set by Bush, reports Vijay Dutt.
Hindustan Times | By Vijay Dutt/ Agencies, London
UPDATED ON JUL 09, 2007 10:49 PM IST

Tony Blair, who recently made way for Gordon Brown as Britain's prime minister, was the only member of government who did not have any private reservations about the March 2003 decision to go into Iraq.

Alastair Campbell, Blair's chief media adviser, said that other figures in Blair's government had serious doubts about following the path set by United States President George W Bush.

"All of us, I think, had had pretty severe moments of doubt but he (Blair) hadn't really, or if he had he had hidden them even from us," Campbell wrote in his diaries, published on Monday.

After Bush agreed to seek another UN Security Council resolution before invading Iraq, Campbell said the President joked, "I suppose you can tell the story of how Tony flew in and pulled the crazed unilateralist back from the brink."

Under intense pressure over Iraq, tuition fees and the Queen Mother's funeral, Blair was ready to go in 2002. "Two terms is all you get in the modern world."

Campbell notes what Blair told him, "In truth I've never really wanted to do more than two full terms," and knew at that point that "he would sometime announce it".

Blair eventually set a limit to his time in Downing Street in September 2004 — announcing he would serve just one more term — months before securing a historic third general election win.

The former prime minister expressed sympathy for Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. "Every leader's got to be able to let go a bit, and Bill — that was his way of letting go a bit."

Embarrassing moment

On a trip to Japan while in Opposition, a minister said to Blair, "Japan is looking forward to your erection (election?)", to which Campbell interjected, "Yes, we're hoping for a big one."

Campbell says, "There were times when Tony and I could not afford to catch each other's eyes."

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