In the wake of the publication of the Chilcot report, this book reinterprets the relationship between British public opinion and the Blair government’s decision-making in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It highlights how the government won the parliamentary vote and got its war, but never won the argument that it was the right thing to do. Understanding how, why and with what consequences Britain wound up in this position means understanding better both this specific case and the wider issue of how democratic publics influence foreign policy processes. Taking an innovative constructivist approach to understanding how public actors potentially influence foreign policy, Strong frames the debate about Iraq as a contest over legitimacy among active public actors, breaking it down into four constituent elements covering the necessity, legality and morality of war, and the government’s authority. The book presents a detailed empirical account of the British public debate before the invasion of Iraq based on the rigorous interrogation of thousands of primary sources, employing both quantitative and qualitative content analysis methods to interpret the shape of debate between January 2002 and March 2003. Also contributing to the wider foreign policy analysis literature, the book investigates the domestic politics of foreign policy decision-making, and particularly the influence public opinion exerts; considers the domestic structural determinants of foreign policy decision-making; and studies the ethics of foreign policy decision-making, and the legitimate use of force. It will be of great use to students and scholars of foreign policy analysis, as well as those interested in legitimacy in international conflict, British foreign policy, the Iraq War and the role of public opinion in conflict situations.
Tony Blair was the political colossus in Britain for thirteen years, winning three elections in a row for New Labour, two of them by huge majorities. However, since leaving office he has been disowned by many in his own party, with the term 'Blairite' becoming an insult. The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader in 2015 seemed to be, if not an equal, at least an opposite reaction to Blair's long dominance of the centre and left of British politics. Drawing on new contributions from most of the main players in the Blair government, including Tony Blair himself, Jon Davis and John Rentoul reconsider the history and common view of New Labour against its record of delivering moderate social democracy. They show how New Labour was not one party but two, and how it essentially governed as a coalition, much like the government that followed it. This book tells the inside story of how Tony Blair worked out, late in the day, his ideas for improving the NHS and school reform; how he groped towards, and was eventually defined by, a foreign policy of liberal interventionism; how he managed a difficult relationship with his Chancellor for ten years; and how Gordon Brown finally took over just as the boom went bust and the New Labour era came to an end. Rentoul and Davis reveal how the governing tribes dealt with each other in the New Labour years: not simply the 'Blairites' and the 'Brownites', but the 'temporary' ministers and the 'permanent', under-reported civil servants who worked alongside them. Many of the arguments that raged within and around the Blair government of 1997-2007 remain very much alive: reform of public services; the right course for the divided Labour Party; and the Iraq war. The Blair Government Reconsidered aims at a balanced account of how decisions were made, to allow the reader to make up their own mind about controversies that still dominate politics today.
Alastair Campbell's diaries have the quality of Pepys ... people will be looking for insights and finding them in 100 years' time." Lord Alex Carlile Caught in the no man's land between being a key figure in Downing Street and the relative anonymity of the world outside politics, Alastair Campbell finds himself being torn in several directions. Having succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown wants Campbell at his side. Campbell resists, flooding his reservoir of guilt as a general election looms and Brown's indecision and fluctuating moods suggest the Labour administration is seriously threatened by the Tory 'posh boy', David Cameron. Soon Campbell is earning not only praise but big money from motivational speaking and writing novels which darkly reflect the personal mood swings that continue to concern to both him and his family. Serious journalism across platforms old and new puts him back in the public eye and together with live appearances and a love of sport - his enduring love affair with Burnley Football Club still smoulders - sees him board a celebrity merry-go-round that often leaves him far from his comfort zone. With politics constantly tugging his sleeve, he eventually returns to the front line to marshal a party in disarray. The intensity of the months leading up to 6 May 2010 is as dramatic as any screenplay, with Campbell chronicling Brown's struggle to win over a disillusioned nation and then his dignified departure from the main stage. For Campbell, another chapter closes. So what next?