From Associated Press:
Blair ‘on trial’ for leading UK to war
Tuesday Apr 24 11:24 AEST
These are trying times for Tony Blair. Literally so on the stage of a London theatre.
A new play that opened on Monday asks whether Britain’s prime minister should be put on trial for the invasion of Iraq.
Called to Account: The Indictment of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair for the Crime of Aggression against Iraq – a Hearing is the latest evidence of how far Blair’s reputation has fallen with Britain’s artists since he was elected a decade ago, in a landslide that ended 18 years of Conservative rule.
Then, the boyish, rock’n’roll-loving leader invited artists, writers and musicians to Downing Street receptions. Now, many of those artists are disappointed – and angry.
“He had an amazing opportunity,” said Nicolas Kent, the play’s director.
“He had a nation who had come together and were so excited about the dawn of his premiership, and he squandered that opportunity to do extraordinary things for this country.”
Kent said Blair could have done much for health services, education and the arts if he had not gotten sidetracked by “adventures” like Iraq.
“This foreign adventure has torn this country apart,” he said.
Blair, who is expected to announce his resignation soon, has said he values the judgment of history more than short-term popularity – not unwise considering that his Labour Party now trails the opposition Conservatives in opinion polls.
Domestic woes and the unpopular Iraq war have battered his once-iron clad reputation.
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Blair has been lampooned as US President George W. Bush’s poodle in countless editorial cartoons, skewered in the TV farce The Trial of Tony Blair and excoriated in plays such as David Hare’s Iraq drama Stuff Happens.
Even George Michael had a dig at Blair and Bush in the video Shoot the Dog.
Now comes Called to Account, the latest in a series of fact-based plays staged by London’s Tricycle Theatre, a small venue with a big reputation for hard-hitting drama.
Over the last few years, the Tricycle has staged a string of “tribunal plays” with scripts drawn from real-life testimony.
In 2004, for example, the drama was Guantanamo – Honour Bound to Defend Freedom, which transferred to the West End and ran off-Broadway in New York.
‘Called to Account’ weighs the evidence for charging Blair with a war crime.
Actors play lawyers and witnesses investigating whether Blair’s reason for war – the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction – was legally justified.
The central character – Blair – remains offstage.
And the verdict? After the lawyers have made their closing speeches, audience members are left to make up their own minds.
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