Two decisions, not one

by Daniel on April 25, 2005

I’ve just been watching the Newsnight item on the Attorney General’s advice furor, and it seems to me that this issue is a lot more clear cut than people are trying to make it. Blair keeps saying “look, I had to take that decision”. But there were two decisions taken in the first quarter of 2003, with the intelligence they had, the legal advice they had, and a UN resolution not coming along as fast as wanted. Those decisions were:

1. The decision to get rid of Saddam
2. The decision to sell decision 1 to the public by misrepresenting the evidence.

With regard to the first decision, there is a case to be made that it had to be done, and that it had to be done right then. As regular readers know, I don’t agree with this case, but it can be made forcefully.

But the second decision … well, there’s no defending it, is there? The war might have needed to be fought, but it didn’t need to be lied about. Tony Blair controls the British Army, not us. He could have fought that war on the basis of Saddam having to go. And it would have cost Labour votes, so he didn’t sell it that way; he took a gamble on the likely existence of WMDs and lost. So in other words, decision 2, was a decision that had nothing to do with saving the Iraqis; it was a decision to mislead the British public in order to help the Labour Party’s electoral chances. Somebody took that decision; very false claims were certainly made and they weren’t made by accident (or by mistake).

There’s no justifying that, is there?

This Year’s Model

by Daniel on April 25, 2005

A week late and a dollar short, I am now ready to unveil my election forecasting model. Gosh what fun it was to make; there really is no substitute for wading in and making a model if you want to learn about a dataset. I am not uploading it here, because the bloody thing is a 1MB Excel file and I suspect that the bandwidth consequences of this for CT would cost me my stripes. However, if you email me at daniel dot davies at gmail dot com, I’ll send it across to you if you like. Or alternatively, you can download the data yourself from Martin Baxter‘s site and produce your own version which may be safer from my trademark incomprehensible spreadsheet design and boneheaded calculation errors. Below the fold, the recipe for my model, the forecasts themselves, and a bit of psephological analysis which suggests why I think that the Liberal Democrats are really, really badly screwed.

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Lost in translation

by Henry on April 25, 2005

I saw The Interpreter last night, and had distinctly mixed feelings; it’s an interesting film, but not a very good one.(warning: spoilers ahead).
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