Saturday 29 March 2003

Blair's Massive Blunder

by Paul Routledge

The families of Sapper Luke Allsopp and Staff Sgt Simon Cullingworth have not only lost their loved ones.

They have learned a cruel lesson in reality from this dreadful war: Tony Blair will lie when it suits him.

Without any corroborating evidence, the Prime Minister announced that these brave soldiers had been "executed" by Saddam Hussein's troops.

This was hard to bear for the families. It suggested they had been murdered Mafia-style, rather than falling in battle.

Every soldier's relatives know they run mortal risks. They do so in the best traditions of the British military. Loss of life in war is inevitable.

So when the men's colonel in 33 Engineer regiment told them Luke and Simon died in combat while sweeping for mines they were naturally furious with the Government.

How can Tony Blair sink so low as to make political capital out of their deaths, parading on a platform at Camp David with George Dubya Bush?

It is one thing to lie, as the Prime Minister does routinely, about the rough and tumble of politics. Crime figures. Hospital waiting lists. The numbers of asylum seekers.

Such fibs are a staple diet of of public life. They rarely impact on ordinary people trying to get on with their lives.

This is different. These are close family. They have suffered a grievous loss. Blair gets on his hind legs in Parliament to convey his condolences to the bereaved.

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