The Guardian NOVEMBER 25, 2004 - by Simon Hoggart


The Impeach Tony Blair movement held a meeting followed by a press conference at the Commons yesterday. It was magnificently, supremely chaotic.

The meeting was private, but people listening at the door reported a row between the MPs involved and the various writers, artists and luvvies who had come to join in.

The MPs wanted to do all the talking at the press conference, but the luvvies wanted to get in the odd word themselves. The compromise was that the national treasures would be able to talk to the reptiles, but only after the presser was finished.

Some of us had gone along in the hopes of hearing Harold Pinter, a keen supporter of the move to impeach the prime minister. Perhaps he would read one of his poems:

'Bombs hurtle down.
'They split open the skulls of babies.
'George Bush fills the skulls with shit, the shit of shitty
shit-covered damnation'. Thank you.

Or words to that effect.

Sadly, Mr Pinter was not able to attend but had sent his good wishes. Instead we had the novelist Iain Banks, the rock musician Brian Eno, the famously left-wing actor Corin Redgrave and the equally famous right-wing novelist Frederick Forsyth. There was also Monsignor Bruce Kent, who used to be the head of CND.

Some of the more louche MPs, such as Boris Johnson and George Galloway, who have both been making the news in their various ways lately, are also listed as supporters, but sadly they were unable to attend either.

The meeting was originally scheduled to take place in a room just off Westminster Hall, but this was too small. So it was transferred to another room, which turned out to be even smaller. It was that kind of day.

We hacks forced our way in. Then some more elbowed their way in. After that, we squeezed in a few more. It was like the Northern Line after a rush-hour signalling problem at Camden Town, only without the old world stiff-upper-lip politeness.

A lawyer called Dan Plesch filled us in on the historical background. We haven't had a good impeachment for centuries, but that was no reason why we shouldn't have one now. They want to set up a committee which will consider the case for charging Mr Blair with lying over the Iraq war. The chances of this happening are frankly zero, but, as Alex Salmond of the SNP put it, the motion is on the order paper, and our flag is in the ground. His gist was that Mr Blair had fired Beverley Hughes and Peter Mandelson for crimes far less serious than this.

We nodded gravely and took notes, or would have done if that had not involved the kind of behaviour which, if attempted on the Northern Line, would have led the woman to whose groin we were adjacent to scream get away from me, you pervert!

Finally we were allowed to talk to the luvvies. I asked Frederick Forsyth how he felt about sharing a platform with Bruce Kent. And with Corin Redgrave! he groaned.

Goat-fucks, those tottering ziggurats of cameramen, sound men, reporters and photographers, formed spontaneously and began to rove menacingly round the room.

Eno was asked for an interview by the chaps from Sky. I don't do anything for Rupert Murdoch! he growled. The goat-fucks started to implode. Writers and actors who might be grateful for a request from Wrexham hospital radio were fought over by the BBC, Sky and, for all I know, members of the board of Transport for London.

It was mad, demented, crazy. If the campaign is organised along the same lines, Mr Blair is safe for the next century.