Page last updated at 14:57 GMT, Friday, 29 January 2010

Tony Blair at the Iraq inquiry - your views

Tony Blair at the inquiry

Tony Blair appeared at the Iraq inquiry to answer questions about the UK's decision to go to war in Iraq.

Feelings about the former prime minister's role in taking Britain into the war run extremely high which is why the inquiry had to run a lottery to allocate tickets for the public gallery.

Two members of the public who won tickets to attend morning part of the hearing share their thoughts as they sat within touching distance of Mr Blair.

The first thing I noticed about Tony Blair when he walked into the room was that the colour of his face didn't match the colour of the skin on the back of his neck.

He was obviously well aware of just how important this TV appearance would be.

Anya Rowson
Anya Rowson sat through the morning session of Blair's testimony

I was sat between two parents who'd lost sons in Iraq.

It's hard to sit between the man who sent soldiers off to war and the parents whose children were killed as a result.

I felt humbled and as a mum myself, it's difficult not to be moved.

Tony Blair is the consummate politician. He was there to make his case which he did, sometimes perhaps unaware of just who was sitting within metres and watching him.

He tried to make light of an interview he gave to Fern Britton in which he talked about the reasons for going to war.

He smiled and said that even with all his experience, he still had something to learn when it came to giving interviews. No-one else in the room appeared to find it remotely amusing.

Mr Blair also seemed to skate over certain issues and talk people down.

At the time Hans Blix was the UN's chief weapons inspector but Blair just seemed to want bat away what Mr Blix had said at the time.

Blair said that he couldn't wait longer for Hans Blix to carry on trying to look for weapons in Iraq.

He said that the risk from Saddam posed too great a threat for him to be able to just wait.

Rose, the mother I was sat next to, who lost her son in Iraq, said to me afterwards "but what about the risk to my son who was killed fighting in a war that we rushed into?"

How can anyone answer that question when the consequence is the mum next to me whose son is dead?

I am glad I went although I think it's going to take a few days before I can properly understand everything that I heard and felt.

Protesters in Westminster


A staid room with no theatrics, just Tony Blair facing a panel of people who, for three hours, asked him question after question.

There were no heated exchanges like American congressional hearings - it was all just polite and well-mannered.

It was, in short, very British.

Mr Blair just seems to refuse to accept the possibility that he may have been wrong

Throughout Tony Blair appeared calm and collected. He had all the notes he needed in the right order.

He appeared to have a message that he wanted to deliver and he was determined to get it across making the same point over and over.

The war in Iraq was about weapons of mass destruction. It was about the threat Britain faced after September 11th.

He kept trying to say that the one justified the other. In Britain's case I can't see how that was so.

I, like millions of other Britons at the time, suspected Blair was wrong about the threat that Saddam posed.

I don't say that now with the luxury of hindsight. All that is different now is that history has proved us right.

Tony Blair at the inquiry
The former prime minister appears at the Chilcot inquiry

It is incredible that Tony Blair simply will not entertain any other opinion other than his own.

He refuses to accept any possibility that he could have been wrong.

He seems to refuse to accept any other interpretation of the intelligence at the time.

At one point he was asked about the phrase "beyond doubt". Mr Blair said that he believed the intelligence beyond doubt.

But one of the members of the panel shot back "beyond your doubt but was it beyond anyone's doubt?"

There was audible applause from the public at this point.

Mr Blair, ever the smooth operator just seemed to look down and shuffle around his well-ordered notes, well aware of what would be seen on TV.

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