I had been wondering where Gorgeous George Galloway might pop up next. Defenestrated from his seat in Bradford West, humiliated in the London mayoral elections — where he received 1.4 per cent of the vote — and no longer apparently an attractive proposition to the reality TV producers, his public life seemed sadly to be drawing to a close. But nope, here he is with a film about the person all left-wing people hate more than any other, Tony Blair. It’s a good film, too, in the main.
The Killing$ of Tony Blair was partly crowdfunded and it may well be that the only people who watch it will be those who forked out to have it made. Which is a shame, because while it does not tell us anything particularly new about our former prime minister, it is a meticulous documentation of Blair’s odious, immoral and almost unbelievable money-grubbing-from-despots venality — and indeed the process which led to the catastrophic and illegal invasion of Iraq, the deaths of perhaps a million people and the region being plunged into sectarian chaos.
Galloway is a terrific presenter, dapper in his left-wing hat, all boilerplate rhetoric, biblical quotations and growled sardonic asides. It has to be said that there is not much equivocation: George does not go in for ‘on the one hand’ sort of stuff — but it may well be that the time for equivocation is over. Instead he interviews a long succession of people who hate Blair — former allies, such as the lovely and decent Clare Short, political enemies such as David Davis, a succession of appalled lawyers and former diplomats and, rather irritatingly, one or two boring luvvies like Will Self and Stephen Bloody Fry. They all dutifully stick the boot in, some with great insight, others (Fry) with less.
By far the most damning sections of the film are the clips of Blair himself, wreathed in false sincerity, that Messianic arrogance burning through. Particularly emetic is the clip of him praising the Kazakhstan dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev for his ‘toughness, subtlety and ingenuity’ — shortly after the repulsive tyrant had overseen the murder of striking oil workers. Blair was paid £16 million for handling Nazarbayev’s international PR, but he trousered a lot more over the years from Kuwaitis and Saudis and the international contracts he ‘facilitated’ for J.P. Morgan — no former British prime minister has come close to Blair for sheer, naked avarice. If there was a fortune to be made at the bottom of a sack of shit, Blair would dive in head first (having been given a helpful push by his wife).
There is not much room for nuance, sure. Galloway’s thesis is that this amoral wheeler-dealer ruthlessness lay at the very centre of Blair’s political make-up and so the point is rammed home at every available opportunity, with the usual far-left dissing of Rupert Murdoch thrown in for good measure. And this is where I have some disagreement with the film’s thrust. While I do not for a moment doubt Blair’s greed — who could? — I think Galloway overlooks another of Blair’s faults in his monomaniacal insistence upon greed: utter stupidity. The invasion of Iraq was based on a calamitous misreading of the Muslim world, the arrogant and plainly wrong assumption that they want the same as the rest of us, the same hankering for liberal democracy, the same aspirations. An idiocy Blair took with him to his new, post-PM role as — so hilarious it defies satire — Middle East peace envoy.
But it is Iraq for which we will remember Blair; for the million dead, for the chaos that ensued, for the chemical weapons we used (white phosphorus and depleted uranium). As the former UK ambassador Craig Murray puts it in this film: ‘If Tony Blair isn’t a war criminal, then who is?’
You can download Galloway’s film on iTunes and Amazon for about a tenner. It’s worth it. Galloway is very good at this — someone give him a series. And an editor.