The US media barely covers the world anymore – except stories that involve those countries that the administration is actively considering attacking and, of course, those lands that have already been invaded and occupied. As a result, many Americans have no idea that a critical election is taking place in Britain, where George W. Bush’s closest ally, Prime Minister Tony Blair, is taking a battering on the issue that should have been central to last year’s US presidential election: the lies that led to the war in Iraq.
Blair’s Labour party is unlikely to be voted out of office in Thursday’s voting, in part because the main opposition party – the Conservatives – also supported the war, and in part because a third of the Labour Party’s members of parliament opposed Blair’s efforts to sign Britain on for Bush’s war.
But while his party remains viable, the prime minister’s personal approval ratings have tanked. A number of recent polls show that a majority of British voters believe Blair lied to the British people–and his own Cabinet–in order to get Britain on board for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And when Britain’s MORI polling agency asked voters whether they approve of how Blair is handling the current situation with Iraq, 63 percent of those surveyed indicated that they disapproved while only 28 percent supported the approach of the man who is derisively referred to as “Bush’s poodle.”
And as election day draws near, the headlines in the British press, which, unlike the US media, does not take its cues from the spin machines of the various campaigns, has kept the focus firmly on Iraq.
The headline in Tuesday morning’s Independent newspaper dismissed Blair’s attempts to dismiss the war as a primary issue: “48 hours to go: Iraq, the issue that won’t go away”
Other headlines read:
“Widow of soldier says Prime Minister to blame for his death”
“Mother plans court action over Blair’s ‘war crimes'”
“Iraq war ‘will haunt Blair’s legacy like Suez'”
“Revealed: documents show Blair’s secret plans for war”
British political campaigns are blunt and to the point. They also include a multitude of parties — including the Liberal Democrats, the nation’s third party, and the Scottish and Welsh nationalists, all of which are anti-war. Even the Conservatives have sought to exploit the popular feeling that Blair deceived the country on the eve of the Iraq invasion. An anti-Blair poster seen throughout Great Britain last week featured an image of Blair and the declaration: “If he’s prepared to lie to take us to war, he’s prepared to lie to win an election.” Another deliberately misspells the prime minister’s name as “Bliar.”