In his arrogant, sentimental and atrociously-written book Inside Story, Greg Dyke offers his considered judgement:
I suspect Blair's legacy will be summed up in two words: "Iraq" and "spin".
Only if he's lucky will Greg Dyke's legacy be summed up in the two words "Roland" and "Rat". You wouldn't learn it from this book, but Dyke presided over and practised a grotesque breach of professional ethics and plain competence in the Gilligan affair. Instead of maintaining a discreet silence appropriate to his position he has published an apologia so full of self-love that the font-size of the title is approximately one-twentieth of that allocated to the author's name, the blurb refers to him as a "much-loved Director-General of the BBC", and the dust-jacket is emblazoned with the Royal Television Society's award citation that Dyke "brought [the BBC] the unaccustomed smell of competitive success" and achieved "personal popularity" within it. The notion that the Director-General's purpose is to provide public-service broadcasting cost-effectively is less prominent, and with good reason, for it wouldn't be easy to discharge that remit and still be "much-loved", at least among BBC staff.
As for Iraq and spin, consider this classic of audacious editorialising: the BBC reports on politicians' reactions to the Liberal Democrats' further grandstanding on the Iraq war:
Conservative defence spokesman Nicholas Soames insisted it was right to topple Saddam and to "liberate" Iraq but he was critical of post-war planning which he branded "chaotic".
The second set of quotations marks, which is reported speech of a political judgement, is apt. The first, however, is breathtaking. Yes, the word "liberate" was the one actually spoken by Soames, but so, presumably, were the words "Iraq" and "Saddam". The BBC genuinely regards it as a contentious point to describe post-Saddam Iraq as liberated. Certainly Iraq is not yet, or at least not in total, a functioning constitutional democracy (though democratic Iraqi Kurdistan, having had the benefit of no-fly zones policed by US and UK - and initially French - pilots for 13 years, is another matter), but that should be no reason for reticence in describing Iraq as a liberated country. Not even the BBC refrains from acknowledging that Europe was liberated in 1945, even though some European countries' liberation from Nazism was succeeded by another form of tyranny. Saddam Hussein explicitly modelled his regime on the precedents set by Hitler and Stalin. Unsurprisingly, those who wished Saddam victory in the Iraq war included sundry European totalitarians and antisemites: Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, Joerg Haider in Austria, and the Socialist Workers' Party in Britain. The best one can say of these elements is that at least they recognised the ideological stakes involved in the overthrow of Baathist tyranny. The BBC, to this day, does not.
On, then, to the Liberal Democrats. At the party's assembly in Bournemouth, Charles Kennedy asked rhetorically, concerning the Iraq war:
Prime minister, why not just, even now, admit you got it wrong? Apologise? Say sorry for the damage you have done, the anguish you have caused, the wrongs that you can never now right?Has the man no shame? As I have expounded before, no party has been more consistently wrong over the Iraq war - its quantifiable and verifiable consequences, never mind its political impact - than the Liberal Democrats. Most culpable was Kennedy's confident prediction that, "Any war will cause a refugee crisis of huge proportions." Wrong, wrong, wrong - and disgraceful, for not acknowledging the error. Iraqi civilians, knowing that Coalition firepower was directed not against them but against their oppressors, stayed put. Had the US and UK governments followed Liberal Democrat policy, those Iraqi civilians would now be living - if alive at all - under Saddam's regime. Mr Kennedy, why not just, even now, admit you got it wrong? Apologise? Say sorry for the damage you would have done, the anguish you would have caused, the wrongs that you tolerated and that more far-sighted political leaders have put right?