"The degree of deceit involved in our decision to go to war on Iraq becomes steadily clearer. This was a foreign policy disgrace of epic proportions, and playing footsie on Sunday morning television does nothing to repair the damage. "It is now very difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tony Blair engaged in an alarming subterfuge with his partner, George Bush, and went on to mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn't want, and on a basis that it's increasingly hard to believe even he found truly credible."
What I found most interesting however, was Macdonald's reference to Blair's self-justification.
"Since those sorry days we have frequently heard him repeating the self-regarding mantra that 'hand on heart, I only did what I thought was right'. But this is a narcissist's defence, and self-belief is no answer to misjudgment: it is certainly no answer to death."
Expressions like 'I personally feel very strongly that...' and 'I had to listen to my conscience on this one' are pretty standard excuses used by people like Blair to justify their unethical positions on all kinds of subjects but as MacDonald puts it, self-belief is no answer to death. What consolation is it to the families of the 100,000 Iraqi civilians and the 1000+ soldiers who have died as a result of this conflict if Mr Blair claims to have done what he thought was right?
As the daughter of a former prisoner of conscience I do not need to be educated on the importance of following one's conscience (and yes I have had plenty of lessons from trendy liberal Catholics on that subject in the past, who would never have the guts to go through the hell my father endured) but I also know that the 'I'm following my conscience' line is all too often muddled with 'I just want to do whatever I want and nobody is going to stop me.' Obedience to conscience should never be an excuse for willful ignorance or self-justification, it is an act of obedience, it should involve seeking the Truth, discerning the Truth and obeying the Truth.
A woman at the steps of the guillotine once said: "Oh liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!" It is equally possible to say: "Oh conscience, what crimes are committed in thy name!"