Tuesday, September 05, 2006

 

Blair's Farewell Gig Will Rival Sinatra's


What strange political chemistry is it which makes aides assume, by proxy, so much of their bosses' identity and interests? People like the pictured Gould and Jonathan Powell (Blair's pollster and chief of staff respectively) seem not to just work for their political master but live an alternative life for him. We saw way back in the early days how Charlie Whelan did the same for Gordon Brown and how it is the aides and spinners, rather than the principals themselves, who keep feuds boiling between senior Cabinet members.

But today we see a new manifestation of this devotion- the plans of Tony's aides for his bowing out of British politics. And what a glorious, extended bow it is going to be. Thanks to the Daily Mirror we have an insight into what is being planned. According to a leaked memo his aides feel 'His genuine legacy is not the delivery of policy but the triumph of Blairism'. Well, that's not such a bad start actually. Since the multiple cock-ups over foreign prisoners, NHS computers, EU pay-outs to farmers we are only too aware that delivery does not quite add up to an especially impressive set of trophies in the cupboard. And it's also true that defeating the basic tenets of Thatcherism- albeit after embracing a fair number of them- is probably going to be his chief legacy in the eyes of history. And that is no mean thing to have pulled off as I've opined in earlier posts.

But it's the idea of a national celebration entailing a nationwide tour and carefully choreographed media appearances on the likes of Blue Peter and the Chris Evans radio show which raise a different set of questions. Consider this line:

'He needs to go with the crowds wanting more. He should be the star who who won't even play that last encore'

Are they properly sane? Do they not realise how low Blair has sunk in the nation's regard? How Iraq is more than just the 'elephant in the room', but something which Blair will never live down.

A discreet leaving the stage would be more appropriate than this planned, toe-curling Gotterdamerung lap of honour. The aides who wrote the memo finish off with the rhetorical questions: 'Most importantly-are we up for it? Is TB up for it?' Boys and girls in Number 10, the former, it would seem, goes without saying, but on the latter I suggest you check first because, if he has any sense, he won't be.

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