Mandelson turns his eye to Blair’s Iraq folly

By staff

Blair became simplistic in his thinking as the Iraq war took its toll on him, Peter Mandelson has said.

In the latest part of his memoir to be serialised in the Times, the former business secretary and architect of New Labour recounted a story in which Mr Blair lashed out at him for questioning the policy.

When told that many Muslims did not recognise the link between September 11th and Iraq, Mr Blair allegedly hit back: “For God’s sake, have you been spending all your time with George Galloway?”

Lord Mandelson wrote that the incident revealed how Iraq had overtaken all other matters in Mr Blair’s thinking.

“They led to a kind of tunnel vision, which got in the way of his dealing thoroughly with some of the political nuances, and practical implications, of the campaign against Saddam,” he wrote.

“As military preparations intensified, those who had reservations of the sort I had raised were lumped together in his mind with anyone who felt he wasn’t 100% on board. The distinction between the two became blurred in Tony’s mind.”

When he challenged the prime minister on post-invasion preparations, Mr Blair revealed a reliance on the Americans which was to prove fatal.

“You can go in there, you can take out Saddam, but what do you do with Iraq?” he asked Blair.

“You’re going to have a country on your hands. I don’t know what your plan is. I don’t know how you’re going to do it. Who is going to run the place?”

Blair replied: “That’s the Americans’ responsibility. It’s down to the Americans.”

Asked if he was not damaging Labour by releasing the memoirs just as the party struggled to recovery from losing power on the Today programme this morning, Lord Mandelson insisted it presented a “very good and flattering” portrait of Mr Blair, Gordon Brown and the New Labour government.