War Crimes of Tony Blair Redux

I hate to have to say so, but I am disappointed it has become mere entertainment, and yet this was probably all that would ever have happened. – ‘So much murder death kill on my TV’ I wrote back in September, and tonight I am watching a tele-novella style sit-com called ‘The Trial of Tony Blair’. It is so badly acted, but in a way amazing that Channel 4 have got away with so much (its on E4 satellite right now, on terrestrial later in the week). The best line so far has been Blair berating the guy who was going to publish his memoirs with the line about how leftists and the chattering classes were the ones who hated him. Well, this TV show is definitely chatter TV. It’s such a shame it washes over us with minimal effect. Blair is in jail now, about to be extradited to the Hague, probably gonna get out of it through becoming a catholic or having a seizure. So I figure I should retrieve, if only for some sort of twisted version of what passes for the record, my post from last September. Now the fantasy has come true I want fiction to be even more real [and Josiah Bartlet to run for Prez again]. Here below I repost and run shrieking into the wild…

18.9.06

People’s Tribunal on the Many and Varied War Crimes Trial of Tony Blair


I was invited to a small workshop at Tate Modern last friday (with folks like Chantal Mouffe, Mike Shapiro, John Armitage, Naeem Mohaiemen and many others – the ‘overly romantic’ Bernadette Buckley was enthusiastic) to discuss the possibilities for an ‘Art’ event next year at Tate. One of their big events, well funded, they were looking for suggestions and dominant thinking was along the lines of having a conference on Art and War and maybe commissioning an artist to do a ‘piece’. My humble contribution, based on frustration and fury at so much murder death kill on my TV, was to denounce the idea of yet another coffee chat and champers soiree for the elite about artists and contemporary conceptual arabesques that are worthy but do little but pat us on the back for being alienated angry and helpless art lovers. The issue for me is what would be adequate to win the war against the terrorists and criminals that run our lives and ruin so many others (cf Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran…). So, lets instead have an event in the turbine hall that does something that at least suggests the direction in which adequacy might be found – the People’s Tribunal War Crimes Trial of Tony Blair. Gore Vidal as the prosecutor, I guess Chris Hitchens as the defence. Who to get as judge to do the thumbs up or down at the end still open? And some other logistical matters to be decided… The thing to do afterwards will of course require more than touching faith in legal process, but a successful people’s tribunal at the most successful gallery in the world could also then help legitimise the people’s march on Westminster to ….

The point was made that it does not matter if this degenerates into farce or parody of ‘the law’ or ‘the courts’ – when the law suggests there might be a non-criminal way to bomb Afghanistan/Iraq etc, then anything that gets masses of people fired up enough to do more than march past Westminster to Hyde Park is better. Thus instead to rather march into the halls of power and turf out the jokers that sit on those plush chairs (boards of directors, lords and lairds) means something that seems more like justice (not legal justice, but people’s justice) might be on the cards.

Idealistic? Overly romantic? Perhaps. But always possible, and necessary now more than ever.

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posted by John Hutnyk at 9:04 AM 18.9.06

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Comments

  • Anonymous  On 15/01/2007 at 11:48 pm

    hmmm. not wonderful satire. pretty easy targets and dodgy panto acting. It lost all of it’s dramatic impact by painting too broad strokes and being too much like a cartoon. Tony’s visions and his reaction to them became crass and so meant little. funny to start with it felt in the end like the writer really enjoying putting his protagonist in awkward situations and having him behave like the writer wish the subject would… dubious and a bit fishy

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  • John Hutnyk  On 16/01/2007 at 12:18 am

    I agree it was dodgy panto acting. Pity. And agree with your thought about the writer’s desire. It sadly all ends up in danger of being a double bluff – as if Blair’s spin doctor wrote this in some sort of bastard dialectic attempt to make viewers feel he’s been maligned. Dastardly double-think. And there was only ever one protester (by 2010 that’s what the STW coalition will have reduced us to – marching on to Hyde Park and only Brain Haw left to hold a banner where anyone can see it…

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  • Anonymous  On 19/01/2007 at 8:45 pm

    A double bluff, I hadn’t thought of that. God I hope not. What do you make of Gordon Ghandi? And of the (un?)real Shilpa shenanigans? And of the Tom Harrison doco last night?

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  • John Hutnyk  On 20/01/2007 at 12:16 am

    Gordon Gandhi is funny.

    Shipla… I liked Hari Kunzru’s piece and hated Germaine Greer’s.

    I offer my own rant including from tonight a comment, on the links page, here.

    be well
    John

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  • John Hutnyk  On 03/08/2007 at 3:42 am

    Why I want Gore Vidal on the team is clear from this.

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