Thursday 2 September 2010

Tony Blair: A Journey

It was almost impossible to avoid hearing about the release of Tony Blair's autobiography yesterday, entitled A Journey.

The release of the book is a huge political story, but for me it's no great revelation to hear that he still passionately defends the war in Iraq, or that his relationship with Gordon Brown was totally dysfunctional for much of the ten years he was Prime Minister.

The big story is that it's the first time we've heard Blair talk about his relationship with Brown and it is quite revealing to hear him say he never imagined what a nightmare the Iraq war would become.

I watched Blair's interview yesterday with the BBC's Andrew Marr. He always comes across really well in these situations, and I've never doubted that Blair has always been a seriously impressive politician and leader.
Although I didn't agree with the Iraq war, I can't help but have some grudging respect for his unwavering self belief and conviction when it comes to Iraq. He reminds me a little of Margaret Thatcher in this respect in the strength of his convictions.

What I always thought unusual about Blair when it came to Iraq and other international conflicts such as Kosovo, was how openly his religious faith and morality played in his political beliefs and strategy.

For Blair the Iraq war wasn't just about WMD's and removing Saddam Hussein. It was also a moral war between good and evil. I know there'll be a lot of people uncomfortable in acknowledging this, but I do think it helps to partly explain his uncompromising stance.

I don't see Blair ever apologising for Iraq which will be hard to take for many of his biggest critics.

In the Andrew Marr interview, he went on to speak about the continuing threat of Iran, and how they need to be confronted. I can't see that happening anytime soon.

The public has lost so much faith following the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, that I find it almost impossible to believe that any government could gain public support for a potential military attack on Iran.

Moving onto his relationship with Gordon Brown; I always knew things were bad between them, but Blair manages to paint an even worse picture of their working relationship. It's really bizarre to imagine that the two most important figures in government were permanently locked in an ongoing political war with each other.

I can imagine in 100 years from now, politics and history students studying the New Labour Government will be baffled by their relationship!

The obvious question to be asked, is why didn't Blair sack Brown if he was so difficult to work with? It appears that Blair thought Brown would have caused even more problems for him outside of government.

I think at times this relationship undermined the credibility of the government. It wasn't good for the Labour Party or the country in general.

In one quote, Blair says of Brown:

'[he had] analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero'

A pretty damning verdict, but this analysis fits in with everything I've been hearing about Gordon Brown from a variety of sources over the last 10 years.

No one can question Brown's intellect, but there were always doubts about some of this personality traits. Critics always questioned his suitability for Prime Minister, and it looks like many of them were right.

I've got no intention of buying Blair's memoirs as I don't tend to read political autobiographies, and at over 700 pages I don't have time to read it. But I did find it fascinating hearing and reading little snippets and quotes from the book. I like a lot political intrigue and gossip.

What I really want to know now, is how long will we have to wait before we hear Gordon Brown's counter attack/defence in his own autobiography?

Surely it's going to be published someday.

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