Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair barely survived two rather harrowing challenges to his position of power in Britain this week. On Tuesday, the House of Commons passed his highly controversial higher education reform bill for the country (which will allow English universities to charge top-up fees of up to £3000) by only five votes. The following day, the greatly anticipated Hutton Report was released, effectively exonerating Blair and the government of charges made by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan. Gilligan had stated that the claims made in Blair's intelligence dossier on Iraq regarding weapons of mass destruction were in fact highly inaccurate. Tony Blair had initially called for an examination of this claim after the suicide of Dr. David Kelly, the scientist who was the source for Gilligan's initial story. In addition, Lord Hutton (the author of the 328-page examination into these claims) chastised the BBC in the report, saying the corporation had a "defective" editorial system which allowed Gilligan to make "unfounded" claims which questioned the Government's integrity. The report was also highly critical of the BBC Chairman of Governors, Gavyn Davies, who announced later on Wednesday that he would resign. After these events, Blair took a proactive approach in the House of Commons, emphatically stating that "The allegation that I or anyone else lied to this House of deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie."
The first link leads to a news piece from this Wednesday's Guardian that discusses the problems faced by Tony Blair this week, and what they mean for the future legitimacy of the Labour party in Britain. The second link contains an article written by Anthony Scrivener for the Independent, and discusses the nature and findings of the Hutton Report. The third link leads to a question and answer piece from the BBC that spells out some of the particulars about Lord Hutton, the Hutton Report, and the general impetus for the inquiry. The fourth link leads to a piece from the BBC about the resignation of BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies, and includes a link to the full text of the Hutton Report. The fifth link will take visitors to an RTE news update about a meeting of the BBC Governors in light of the recent news, and also includes links to several audio and visual clips featuring Richard Eyre, the former Deputy Director of BBC News, speaking about the nature of the Hutton Report. The sixth link leads to a site established by the National Union of Students in Britain that expresses their extreme displeasure with the nature of the higher education reform bill which was passed earlier this week. The final link, provided by the Guardian, offers a detailed explanation of how the new higher education bill will work, and why such a change was needed in the first place.