Impeach Tony Blair. The proposal was made not by some member of the awkward squad, but by the Father of the House himself, Sir Peter Tapsell. Oxford, it has been said, whispers from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Age. Sir Peter is an Oxford man, but does not whisper. With sonorous clarity, though without pronouncing the letter “R”, he evokes the last enchantments of the 1950s. He was first elected to the House in 1959. His manner is that of an earlier and more expansive age.
Labour members love listening to Sir Peter, for like Jacob Rees-Mogg, he corresponds to their idea of how a Tory MP should look and sound, and conveys in his whole demeanour an implicit rebuke to the sham classlessness of the present Conservative leadership. And after all, many Labour members detest Mr Blair. They agree with Sir Peter that their ex-leader misled the House when making the case for going to war in Iraq.
But David Cameron declined to take up the idea of impeaching his predecessor but one. The Prime Minister knows he too will one day be an ex-Prime Minister, and has no desire to promote the idea that such people should be threatened with impeachment for grotesque errors made while in office.
Ed Miliband asked a series of ostentatiously bipartisan questions about Iraq. He wishes to see “a more inclusive and representative government” in that country. Mr Cameron agreed that “a more inclusive approach” was required, but indicated that he does not favour “direct intervention” to bring it about. The respect with which the Prime Minister behaved towards the Leader of the Opposition made a pleasant change from the withering contempt with which he usually treats him. But Mr Miliband was only able to secure this more favourable treatment by agreeing with everything Mr Cameron said.
The Prime Minister was instead witheringly contemptuous about Jean-Claude Juncker, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg who is hoping to become President of the European Commission. Mr Cameron abandoned his support for former Prime Ministers and declared that Mr Juncker was totally unacceptable: “I will fight this right to the very end.” Tory backbenchers cheered this bid to junk Mr Juncker. Perhaps some Conservative statesman could next week call for an election-winning double impeachment of both Mr Blair and Mr Juncker.