The Trial of Tony Blair
|The Trial of Tony Blair|
|Created by||Alistair Beaton|
|Directed by||Simon Cellan Jones|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||72 minutes|
The Trial of Tony Blair is a satirical drama recounting hypothetical war crimes proceedings brought against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair by an international tribunal, following his departure from 10 Downing Street. Directed by Simon Cellan Jones, it was first aired on More4 on 15 January 2007 and repeated on 5 March 2007 and during Blair's last week as Prime Minister on 23 June 2007.
The Labour Party, of which Blair is leader, is trailing David Cameron's Conservative Party in the polls. However, within hours of Blair's departure, the polling trends dramatically reverse with respondents overwhelmingly supporting Labour's new leader, Gordon Brown. Fearing that his legacy is under severe threat, Blair attempts to sabotage Labour's election campaign, leaking an inflammatory e-mail sent from Brown to Blair wherein the former admits that tax hikes are "inevitable". Blair's plan works, in that Labour wins the election with a majority of just two Members of Parliament, smaller than Blair's majority and with Cameron in a much better position.
Meanwhile, Blair is having problems of his own. Both he and his wife, Cherie, are having financial problems. He is obsessed with his legacy, but neither his former supporters nor the U.S. government — led by President Hillary Clinton — want anything to do with him. Finally, Blair is haunted by disturbing visions of dead Iraqi civilians and British soldiers in the ongoing Iraq War. His troubled conscience makes him try to convert to Catholicism, though in repeated visits to church he finds himself unable to confess to any sins. Blair is portrayed as being partly in denial that a world which once hailed him as a great leader has largely turned against him.
To compound Blair's problems, the International Criminal Court is looking to bring war crimes charges against British and American leaders in relation to the war. Now that Blair is no longer Prime Minister, he no longer has diplomatic immunity from prosecution, and since George W. Bush cannot be prosecuted due to America's unwillingness to extradite former Presidents, Blair would become the main scapegoat of any such trial. Brown is initially uncertain of what to do, but his hand is ultimately forced when he is informed that several Labour MPs have threatened to defect to the Liberal Democrats — thereby destabilising Labour's minority government — if he fails to act.
The United Nations Security Council votes on the decision to bring Blair to court. Ordinarily, this would not have been an issue as the United Kingdom, a permanent member of the Security Council, would have been able to veto the resolution. Unfortunately for Blair, Brown's assistant orders Britain's Security Council representative to be absent when the resolution is voted on. The resolution passes, with all other Security Council members — including the United States — voting in favour.
Under the stress of events, Blair suffers a recurrence of heart problems, but everybody believes this is play-acting. The programme ends with Tony Blair being flown to his trial in The Hague.
Historical changes for the programme
Several historical events have taken place before the programme begins. These include the following:
- Tony Blair staying in power until 2010. He gave notice that he would resign as Prime Minister by mid-2007, and refined this to 27 June on 10 May. This is explained at the beginning of the programme, when Tony Blair announces that because of military action by British, American and Israeli armed forces against Iran followed by suicide bombings in Britain, he needed to remain in power to ensure "stability" in the country.
- Hillary Clinton has won the 2008 presidential election and is now President of the United States. To hold onto her position, she agrees to vote in favour of the UN resolution which sees Tony Blair sent to trial.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen on the photos at the UN building in New York as the latest Secretary-General, following Kofi Annan. Unlike the other two points, this is obviously more for humour than accuracy, as Annan's successor was already known to be Ban Ki-Moon.
- David Cameron is shown as a politician believing in nothing and promoting everything – an accusation made against him by numerous newspapers in the UK.
- Gordon Brown is shown as moody and insecure. He is pressured into allowing the UN resolution to pass.
- Cherie Blair is shown, complete with her career as a leading barrister and her chambers.
- Brian Haw is a minor character, who takes to sitting outside the Blairs' home in Connaught Square, London, shouting "War Criminal" every time Tony or Cherie appear. His camp grows more expansive over the course of the story, with more accusing banners and placards appearing, perhaps symbolizing the rapidly increasing anxiety and pressure that Blair is under.
Although the Blairs have four children in real life, none of the children appear in the programme.