(Though I will say that I was quite stunned by the junior Home Office minister - Beverley something - who went on the Today programme this morning to talk about the legal issues raised by the new Asylum Bill. And proceeded to announce that all the senior lawyers who are worried that it makes tribunals unaccountable to the courts are talking nonsense - she thinks that the fact tribunals can choose to take advice from courts is the same thing as proper accountability. And that everyone who thinks families are going to be split up is talking nonsense - because they will ship families back to their possible deaths by torture as a whole - well, no, she didn't say that, actually. And she told the interviewer that she was just being stupid. Now, the Today people can hold their own for aggression- but this was just hyper-hyper.)
So, anyway, Saddam. Bad Man. Whom I have loathed since long before it was fashionable. But here is the thing.
Just as I opposed the war, in spite of my long-standing commitment to the Kurdish cause, because I don't believe in unilateral war-making without solid reasons and at least the implicit backing of the UN. ( I didn't criticize Blair over Sierra Leone, because it is a mess, a mess partly of our making, and something absolutely had to be done. And it sort of worked, at least in the short term, because crazed loons are no longer cutting arms off. Which is a result.)
Just as I opposed the war, on principle, and with regrets, so I oppose the death penalty in any circumstances. And while Blair has no power to stop the Americans and the Iraqis killing Saddam, and one understands precisely why the Iraqis want to cut him apart a cell at a time - which is what they have done on occasion in the past -, still, if we are opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds, as Blair has always said he is, then the principle remains. We should say, at the very least, you will do what you will do, but we think it's wrong.
Because otherwise you are not opposed to the death penalty, just opposed to killing particular categories of killer. If Saddam, why not, say, Ian Huntley, if they find him guilty, or Peter Sutcliffe? It is not about how bad they are; it is about how good we are, or at least unbad. Mercy should be shown, because we expect mercy - I am not a Christian, but that does not mean I reject Christianity's better and not original ideas.
And to those who will ask, does this mean you would not execute Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao? I will say, yes, it means I would not do those things.
Because when you execute Mussolini, somehow you often also execute Clara Petacci, whose only crime seems to have been fucking Mussolini, and who was hung by her heels next to him...