Thursday, July 15, 2004

zen governance

Prior to his report, there was much speculation that Lord Butler didn’t like the way the senior civil service had been put under the whip of various Blairoid arrivistes and cronies and was determined to administer a good kicking in response. Instead, he’s given our callow PM a smooth demonstration of what the Mandarin classes are actually good for.

Step aside Hutton, and look how a real pro goes about soothing troubled waters. “Doubtful” claims, “unsubstantiated” allegations, “vague and ambiguous intelligence”, “strain” between the government and the intelligence services. And yet no one was to blame. Failure was collective. In fact, it was a kind of platonic essence floating about the place until exorcised by Lord Butler ‘s report, at which point it evaporated with a faint hiss. Both sides of the argument can find satisfaction in the report, but neither are vindicated. Perfect equilibrium has been reached. Are chemical warheads a fantasy in the mind of Tony Blair? Or is Blair a simply a figment of the imagination of a warhead? Who can say? Shall we move on?

Well, maybe. The problem is that both Hutton and Butler have revealed a lot about how this government actually goes about its business, and specifically the business of taking the country to war. And it’s this, I think, rather than the war itself which has put people off the government. People have turned against Blair in the same sense that people who see sausages being made turn towards vegetarianism.