Perhaps we’ve now learned a valuable lesson in trust

Tony Blair
Tony Blair

Hero Ollie Hall stood up and was counted: would you?

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It was a tale of two birthdays: the first, on March 13, my dad’s; the second, on March 20 – put it in your diary – mine.

I’m casting my mind back to the year in which I turned 23, living in Bristol and starting down the journalism career path which would ultimately lead me here.

But there was something else remarkable about that year.

That was the year that Britain and the US went to war in Iraq for the second time.

As the Chilcot Report has just revealed, it was on my dad’s birthday (happy birthday dad) that the then Attorney General found legal grounds to invade.

And it was on my birthday, just a week to the day later, when that invasion officially began.

Happy birthday to me.

You might think I’m making it up, but I promise I’m not.

In the run-up to those happy, happy days we had sit-ins at the student unions from militant Stop The War types who would, ultimately, be proved right.

We had marches and protests galore and, in fact, I had to run away from a large one being staged in the centre of Bristol so that I could rescue my car and get to my own birthday meal without being late.

In hindsight I should have taken my freshly-cut hair and joined in with the protest.

In my defence I remember having sympathy with the sentiment of the protesters, if not exactly agreeing with their tactics.

Sitting down in the Students’ Union reception is hardly likely to persuade Tony Blair and George Bush not to leap into war, is it?

But as well as sympathy I had faith that the leaders of the free world had access to information we simply didn’t.

Crashing naivety perhaps, but if you can’t trust the people you elect then what’s the point of government?

It’s taken 13 years, but finally the families of those who died in the Iraq conflict have some answers as to why we went to war on a whim, if not all.

And perhaps there are others now who, like me, have learned a valuable lesson in trust.


Recent events just go to show that if you stitch up your mates, you’re probably going to come to a sticky end.

Especially if you’re Michael Gove, the mate you stitched up is Boris Johnson and the rest of your political party are having to deal with the fallout from the monster you co-created.

Cue just 46 votes for Gove to be the next Tory leader in the second round of voting.

In recent years the party seems to have been run on well-defined rules: go to a particular school, become a member of a particular club, and you will get a particular job.

Gove was different. But the ex--president of the Oxford Union debating society hasn’t been able to talk his way out of withdrawing support for Johnson to run for leader.


Timmonsville is my hero!

It’s a tiny town in the US that has banned the wearing of overly-baggy trousers worn with no belt and what can only be described as disappointing boxers.

Can we all join in?

Often called jailing, the ‘style’ is supposed to have come from the US prison system when inmates were given oversized trousers with no belt, leading to a disappointing amount of be-boxered butt being on display.

You see it here all the time and I’m really not a fan. It can’t be comfortable, and it’s called underwear for a reason – to be worn underneath.

It’s just not classy to be wandering about with your bum on display, is it? And when trousers finally give way to gravity, you just can’t un-see that kind of thing!