TONY Blair continued his high wire act on Iraq in his monthly media conference yesterday morning. Once again he spoke of his “passionate conviction” and “belief with every fibre of my being” that the war was justified and that evidence of weapons of mass destruction would be found. Yet when it came to the most telling question on this topic he failed to answer. The representative of Channel 4 TV said that in a programme due to be broadcast last night the families of servicemen who lost their lives in Iraq would be asking why had they not received a letter of condolence either from the Queen or from Mr Blair himself, and also why, if an inquiry was justified into the death of one man (Dr David Kelly), there would not be one into the deaths of British servicemen in what were sometimes questionable circumstances? The Prime Minister waffled and answered a different question he had not been asked.
Robin Oakley of CNN drew attention to this week's opinion poll which showed that two–thirds of those questioned believe the BBC is more trustworthy than the government, and asked whether perhaps Downing Street had inflated the Gilligan affair unnecessarily. The Prime Minister's response was: “All we wanted was an incorrect statement corrected.” Neither journalists nor the public are naive enough to believe that. Still Mr Blair (and perhaps Alastair Campbell?) should be given credit for the innovation of these media conferences. Tehy are certainly an improvement on the old privileged and almost secret lobby briefings and, importantly, they include foreign media representatives.

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