[lit-ideas] FYI: The Guardian, "The Wrap"

  • From: Stephen Straker <straker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 08:51:34 -0700


FYI - As other newspapers do, The Guardian sends out daily
e-mail notices, one of which is "The Wrap". It is especially
good, citing the coverage in other UK papers. Here are some
excerpts from Thursday's "wrap" (about 60% of it).
(Instructions how to subscribe are at the end.)


The Wrap: 'Blair must go'


If I were Tony Blair, I would be rather alarmed this morning
to see how frequently my name appears next to words such as
"lonely", "damaged" and "go".

Every democratic leader has to take this kind of thing from
opponents and erstwhile allies - those who feel cast out of
the centre of power - but, if the newspapers are your
barometer of such sentiments, the fallout from the Iraq
prison photos and reports is seriously threatening to the
prime minister's career.

Times columnist Mary Ann Sieghart, who backed the Iraq war,
explains she is now fed up with justifying it. "I can't bear
watching good arguments for the intervention shrivel before
my eyes," she writes.  "I'm livid that the moral case I've
been making has been utterly undermined by the actions of
allied troops."

The "I backed the war, but now [insert name of your choice
here] must go" column is fast becoming a Fleet Street
staple. It is Blair's name that is frequently in the space.

A Guardian splash brings Gordon Brown, his ally and
perpetual rival, back into the frame. It says Mr Blair's
allies fear the chancellor is "growing more restless in his
ambition". The piece is packed with Westminster murmurs and,
for the PM, chilling phrases such as "Geoffrey Howe moment"
and "worst political trouble since 1997". It is what, if
these were al-Qaida suspects, the intelligence services
would refer to as chatter.

The actual lead, which gets a little lost in the background
noise, is that Mr Brown has visited Rupert Murdoch twice
this week.

The Independent reports that it is less the actual photos
from Abu Ghraib than the fact of Blair's closeness to George
Bush that is causing problems, which is why he is suffering
the "bulk of the political damage". It says that senior
serving diplomats and leading Labour backbenchers have asked
Downing Street to put some distance between No 10 and the
White House. But political columnist Andrew Grice says that
is not an option that appeals to the PM. He would rather
continue to try and influence Washington to agree to an UN
solution in Iraq than admit the Bush alliance was a mistake.

Amid the lows - the Mirror prints "Blame Me" above a photo a
tired looking Blair - there are the highs. Sun political
editor Trevor Kavanagh does not believe the PM will step
down any time soon. With the legacy of his policies looking
shaky, he may attempt a third general election victory to
assure his place in British political history, he writes.

It would be easy, but wrong, to overlook the fact that we
are in an election campaign - one that matters more to
Westminster than the people outside it. As the FT explains:
"The increasingly aggressive rhetoric reflects a cross party
recognition that Iraq will be a core issue in deciding the
outcome of the local and European elections on June 10.
Ministers privately accept that Labour will perform badly."

* Pressure grows for Blair to go

* Independent: Diplomats start to panic over Blair's support
for Bush

* Mirror: Blame me

* Times: Mary Ann Sieghart

* FT: Blair on defensive over Iraq allegations


In America, too, political careers appear to be at risk over
the Abu Ghraib photographs. Sidney Blumenthal, a former
Clinton adviser, writes that the US army is turning against
Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, and some officers
would like to see him impeached.  He quotes an unprecedented
editorial from the Army Times: "This was a failure that ran
right to the top. Accountability here is essential - even if
that means relieving leaders from duty in time of war."

Blumenthal says that if Mr Rumsfeld goes so does his deputy,
the "neoconservative Robespierre" Paul Wolfowitz, and, by
extension, the neoconservative project rooted in its
Pentagon power base.

This morning, things are still tricky for Rumsfeld. Senators
invited to a private viewing of the unseen Abu Ghraib
photographs described them as "appalling", the FT reports. A
report in today's New York Times says the CIA used "coercive
interrogation methods" against high level al-Qaida leaders
and operatives. It adds that the techniques were so severe
that the FBI directed its agents to stay out of the

* Sidney Blumenthal

* FT: Harsh CIA methods cited in top al-Qaida inquiries


Finally, the Mail tells the story of the gang that breaks
into your shed and tidies it. More than 25 homes in
Chesterfield have experienced their work: they lift the shed
door off its hinges before carefully sifting through the
contents, neatly stacking pots and putting garden equipment
away. Police, however, have warned that the gang could be
after something they really want, and have urged shed owners
to tighten security. Fishing tackle has gone missing from
two of the sheds.

The Wrap is one of Guardian Unlimited's paid-for services.
If you were forwarded this email and would like to
subscribe, go to


Stephen Straker 
Vancouver, B.C.   
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