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"It would be a mistake to believe that Chilcot and current events are entirely unconnected," writes former Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond. "The link is through the Labour Party." (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/AP)

Is Coup Against Corbyn a Plot to Spare Blair from War Crimes Probe?

One politician posits that Labour Party leadership's turn against Corbyn is a move to protect Blair from damning Chilcot findings

Nika Knight

In the tumultuous wake of Brexit, why has the Labour Party turned on leader Jeremy Corbyn for campaigning for the "Remain" camp, while the Conservatives have welcomed new leader Theresa May for doing exactly the same?

Alex Salmond, former Scottish First Minister, has proposed one damning theory by suggesting that the Labour Party's coup against Corbyn is an orchestrated attempt to stop him from "calling for Tony Blair's head" when the Chilcot Report, the government's official inquiry into the Iraq War, is published on Wednesday.

In a blistering op-ed published Sunday in Scotland's Herald, Salmond writes, "It would be a mistake to believe that Chilcot and current events are entirely unconnected. The link is through the Labour Party."

"I had a conversation on exactly this point with veteran Labour firebrand Dennis Skinner. He answered in one word 'Iraq,'" Salmond adds:

The Skinner line is that the coup was timed to avoid Corbyn calling for Blair's head next Wednesday from the Despatch Box. Indeed many would say that when Corbyn stated that he would be prepared to see a former Labour Prime Minister tried for War Crimes then he sealed his fate as leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

As Common Dreams reported last summer, Corbyn campaigned on the position that the former prime minister could face war crimes charges based on his decision to partner with then-U.S. President George W. Bush in the invasion of Iraq.

And just over a month ago, the Labour leader reiterated his willingness to have Blair tried for war crimes after the Chilcot Report is released. 

In a recent interview, Salmond again pointed out to a reporter that the "Chilcot Report is coming out next week and by all accounts it's going to be a damning indictment of Tony Blair and his warmongering. And most of the people who are now gunning for Corbyn were Blair's closest supporters."

Journalist Glenn Greenwald has also noted that not only have those driving the coup been Iraq War supporters, but the chief contender to replace Corbyn, Angela Eagle, backed Blair's push for war in 2003:

Observers have pointed out that Eagle also opposed the government's investigation into the Iraq War.

"So I'm wondering if this was a pre-emptive strike against the Chilcot Report, because Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he would support Tony Blair being held to account, as he should be," Salmond said.

"Certainly I've never seen anything like it in a parliamentary party," the former First Minister added.

But has Labour's gambit to protect the warmongering Blair been successful?

Salmond thinks not, according to his writing in the Herald: "At this juncture it looks as if the coup has stalled and Corbyn will survive to fight just one last day on Wednesday. However, will the Chilcot account give him the ammunition he needs or will it be yet another establishment whitewash in the long litany of British cover ups from Suez onwards?"

"Chilcot will not be a verdict, that much is clear," Salmond writes. "However, it could still supply the damning evidence for the jury to bring a conviction in. In a triumph of hope over experience my political sense tells me to expect fireworks."

Indeed, the Independent reported Sunday that if Blair escapes censure after the report is released, some British MPs are hoping to impeach the former prime minister using an ancient Parliamentary law that could see Blair finally sent to prison for his role in the conflict.

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