What Blair omitted to say
Sir: Mr Blair’s latest in these pages, like his recent Foreign Affairs Committee appearance on Libya, papers over so much history that one hardly knows where to start (‘What I got right’, 12 December). His own Libyan history will do. We all know the ‘deal in the desert’, whereby Gaddafi relinquished a feeble ‘WMD’ programme to come in from the cold, lift the sanctions, and pave the way for oil deals. What was not known until 2011 was the real price of this bargain. The price was a UK-US-Libyan conspiracy to kidnap two whole families from exile and ship them to Gaddafi.
Had we not seen the proof in black and white after the dictator’s fall, who would have believed it? But documents don’t lie. In them, Blair’s counter-terror head cheerleads the delivery of the ‘air cargo’ — a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife — to Gaddafi’s dungeons. On the next plane were four kids, the eldest 12, the youngest six. A member of the committee blandly asked Mr Blair whether, where Gaddafi was concerned, ‘the ends justified the means’. He should have spoken plainly. The means were the ‘rendition’ of women and children to a tyrant.
Mr Blair writes of hard choices. But if British values, progressive or otherwise, are to mean anything, there must be a red line. Kidnap crosses it. Did Blair approve this? The ‘deal’, after all, was his. Those involved must answer for it. In time, perhaps they will.
NGO Reprieve, London EC3
His big break
Sir: How jolly to see our former prime minister in the Spectator Christmas issue. Anthony Blair’s first contribution to the magazine, as you noted on your contents page, appeared in 1978, after I introduced him to the then editor Alexander Chancellor. At the time I was an occasional Spectator columnist and he was a junior barrister.