Thursday, September 02, 2010

 

History, the Present and Tony Blair,

My close friend Chris said to me of Blair:

'I feel angry with him because he robbed me of my party, my sense of hope; he disnfranchised me in a way. I used to be a committed Labour Party member but after Iraq, I ceased to be active at all.'

I'm sure she speaks for thousands of the 200,000 or so who drifted out of the party between 1997 and 2007. So does his book, A Journey offer any contrition? any answers? Not many I fear. Though it is a good read, from extracts I've read and already it's a best seller. Reading the press today the dominant view seems negative and Iraq still looms large. His interview with Andrew Marr last night also failed to enlighten, though it did remind us how persuasive this master communicator can still be. Though I'm sure that his credibility with British voters is such that he'll never get elected to any further major office and faces, I suspect, something of an isolated future.

On Iraq he seems to want us to separate the decision(justified) from the implemtation(mistakes). I suspect history might well address the distinction. It is possible to argue that Saddam's excesses plus widespread international intelligence sustained a view at the time that the Iraqi leader was someone who was both daily visiting slaughter on his own people and likely to do the same on neighbours in the Middle East plus maybe further afield. Removing him was an act defensible on the grounds of human rights and the maintenance of peace. The implementationn of the decision however was clearly botched- the chief villains being Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney. Insufficent troops and the removal of any internal security to establish law and order ensured that the dogs of civil, not to mention criminal strife, were unleashed with disastrous effect.

But blaming the US doesn't acquit Blair of blame. Rawnsley's well researched analysis, The End of the Party, does not reveal a single occasion when, despite his qualms, Blair intervened to check the Americans by threatening to withdraw his support. It seems he really did prostrate himself to the superpower's leaders and we, who voted him in, paid the price. Why did he not listen to the million or so people- most of them Labour supporters I guess, who marched against the war in February 2003?

On a different tack, I was amused by his observations on sex and politics, writing(badly) on how he ravished Cherie like an 'animal' once he had decided to stand for the leadership in 1994 and, also referring to his relationship with Gordon, as recounted by Helen Pidd today in the following almost homo-erotic terms:

But Cherie wasn't the only object of Blair's fervour. At one point, back in 1994, the former PM insists he and Gordon Brown had eyes only for each other. "Our minds moved fast and at that point in sync. When others were present, we felt the pace and power diminish, until, a bit like lovers desperate to get to love-making but disturbed by old friends dropping round, we would try to bustle them out, steering them doorwards with a hearty slap on the back."

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