Monday, 27 September 2010

So it's Ed and not David Milliband that wins Labour leadership race

I was surprised to see Ed Milliband defeat his brother David for the leadership of the Labour Party. Although I thought It would be close, I still expected David to win.

I actually had the chance to vote in this leadership race myself. As a very inactive member of the GMB union I was eligible to vote, but I only found this out when I received a text message telling me this.

In the end I didn’t manage to get a ballot paper in time, but I think I would have voted for Ed. In saying this, even if he hadn't won I wouldn't have been unhappy with David becoming leader.

Because Ed’s victory was achieved with the votes of the trade unions he’s now predictably being referred to as ‘Red Ed’ by sections of the Press, a label which is unfair and one I’m already tired of hearing.

Ed Milliband may have the backing of the unions but I don’t believe he’s that Left wing. If there’s one thing I don’t like about politics, it's the constant scaremongering tactics used by all parties.

If you believe the views of some commentators, Ed’s victory is going to be a return to the dark days of union militancy from the 1970s.

Britain’s a completely different country now. The unions don’t have the power and influence that they had in those days, and they never will again - this is why I’m not falling for this rhetoric.

From a pragmatic point of view, I except that David winning would have given Labour a better chance of winning the next election, but it’s too early to say that by electing Ed, they’ve consigned themselves to certain election defeat.

Clearly if he takes the party to the Left, this would be electoral suicide but I think one of the reasons why he won, is that there are Labour supporters who wish to move on from ‘New Labour’

New Labour may have turned the party into winners, but it also managed to lose thousands of members over the last few years.

There’s certainly a feeling that by appealing more to floating voters in key marginal seats, the party ended up neglecting much of its traditional working class support. It seems Ed wants to make an effort to reconnect with this group.

I think Ed has the chance of evolving Labour on bit more, and away from all the New Labour baggage, more so than his brother.

Whether Ed is a success or failure will depend largely on his relationship with the Unions and Labour’s response to the governments spending cuts, and reducing the budget deficit.

If the unions start taking an unrealistic stance against spending cuts and Ed doesn’t distance himself enough from them, it’s going to be difficult for him to win enough support around the country.

He’s also got to ensure that Labour offer a credible policy on how to cut the budget deficit – with or without the support of the unions.

I have to say this weekend’s result feels like the end of the beginning of a new political era in Britain.

There’s a big unknown quality about Ed Milliband. It explains why I think it’s wrong for so many people from across the political spectrum to be making such concrete predictions and assertions on the future of the Labour Party and the type of leader Ed will be.

There are too many what ifs in British politics at the moment which makes the task of predicting anything increasingly difficult.

Friday, 24 September 2010

I can't believe Ken is going to run for London mayor again!

I've just found out that Ken Livingston has won the nomination to stand for London mayor against Boris Johnson.

What a backward and uninspiring decision this is.

Oona King would have made a much more appealing and interesting candidate to take on Boris in 2012.

By choosing Ken, Labour Party members have chosen to massage his ego by giving him a chance of completing a third term as London Mayor.

I read on the BBC website that his nomination marked his return to the political spotlight. Return to the spotlight? He's never been away from it

Ken should have retired from politics after his defeat to Boris in 2008. But instead he’s been biding his time waiting for the chance to get his old job back.

In 2012 we’re going to see the political equivalent of a heavyweight boxing clash – with Ken the challenger itching to reclaim his former title from Boris.

Labour should have looked beyond Ken's ego and chosen Oona King, who I think would have been a much more forward thinking choice.

Oona was once my local MP in the London borough Tower Hamlets. I voted for her the 2005 elections as I thought she was a really good local MP, but she was kicked out, as a result of another politician with a giant ego – George Galloway.

I can’t see what Ken is going to offer Londoners, that’s going to be new or different from his previous time in office.

I voted for Ken in 2004, rather reluctantly I have to say. There's a certain level of arrogance about him that I don't really like. It's as if he sees London as his own private fiefdom which he was born to run.

What I think will be an interesting issue in two years time is this. Boris will be a Tory mayor at a time where we may have a highly unpopular Tory/Lib Dem government in power.

By 2012 we should be seeing the real affects of the government's spending cuts that we hear so much about. This could be a real disadvantage to Boris.

At this point Labour could be riding high in the polls which might benefit Ken. It’s essentially going to be a role reverse of the 2008 battle.

I can’t say I’m particularly excited by this prospect.

I didn't vote for either Ken or Boris in 2008, and I can't see any reason why I'll be voting for them in 2012

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How many shoes do you have?

I think this is a question for the men out there, rather than the ladies.

I was reading today that Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York and a man with a personal fortune of £11.2 billion only has two pairs of shoes for work!

I'm used to meeting girls who seem to have a different pair of shoes for everyday of the month, but how many should a man have?

For me, two pairs for work is too old skool; it's an outdated mindset for men to have these days.

I reckon a man needs at least four pairs for work!

I don't think four is too many. If you're wondering how I decided on the number four - I'll explain my thought process.

You need a very smart pair for special occasions, I'm thinking things like interviews and weddings for example.

You then need some casual work shoes for comfort, which say 'I'm still wearing shoes, but not making an effort today.'

You then need two pairs in the middle, not too smart not too casual. Maybe a black and brown pair, just to mix things up. I don't think this is unreasonable.

I have 6 pairs of what I'd describe as proper shoes, four of which I wear regularly for work. If you then add trainers to the list I have about 12 pairs of shoes.

I've had this conversation before with other lads in the past, and it seems I might not be you typical bloke when it comes to numbers.

I don't care, I like to have options when it comes to my footwear. I don't get the idea of having only two pairs which you wear into the ground, and the heals are at an angle because you can't be bothered to re-heal them. Do these people have no shame?

Having a good selection of shoes mean they last longer as you don't wear each pair that often. I never wear a pair of shoes more than twice in one week. It's the way forward.

Four's the magic shoe number for me, what's yours?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Pope's visit shows religion still has something to say

The Pope flew back to the Vatican today after his historic four day visit to Britain. If there’s been one thing which has stood out for me, it’s how the role of religion and faith had suddenly taken centre stage in a national debate on the type of country the UK has become.

I actually felt some agreement with the Pope when he spoke about ‘aggressive forms of secularism’ which have become prevalent in the UK. Religion and faith have been pushed to the margins in terms of the role it can play in British life.

I think his visit has shown religion still has something to contribute to people in this country.

Earlier in the week, a colleague at work said she couldn’t understand all the fuss surrounding the Pope’s visit.

My reaction was one that thought ‘are you being serious?’ It’s a major event. The first state visit by the Pope to Britain and someone who’s the leader of an organisation with a membership of over 1 Billion people world wide.

The Pope isn’t just a religious leader he’s a major political figure; it goes without saying this is a major event. Add to that the scandal of child abuse within the Catholic Church, and the huge amount of opposition to some of the Church's views, the Pope’s visit was always going to receive a huge amount of coverage.

In our secular society, I think for many people religion has become almost irrelevant, so the Pope’s visit doesn’t appear to be of significance or have any great meaning, but judging by the numbers of people who came out to see the Pope clearly religion does still matter.

The Pope was quite right to talk about the growth of ‘aggressive secularism’ in this country. Why shouldn’t the visit of Pope be a significant event? It’s as if secularism has evolved along with atheism to say religion has no role to play in national life. That at it’s worst its corrupt, irrelevant and all a load of nonsense.

A country like Britain is a pluralistic society where different views and beliefs can be expressed freely. I feel there’s a growing atheist arrogance that sneers at the church or people who have any religious faith. It’s as if anyone who believes in God or the after life are childish idiots believing in fairy tales.

When it comes to myself I’m not religious and don’t go to church, but I would say I’ve been brought up loosely in the Christian Faith. I’m not an atheist and not quite agnostic which is really just sitting on the fence. I’d describe myself as spiritual but not religious.

Atheism is one belief system which exists alongside a number of other beliefs, but atheism is becoming increasingly intolerant and belligerent in its anti religion rhetoric.

In a true secular society there shouldn’t be the need for the aggressive name calling and belittling of religion and faith, which I think has grown stronger. Secularism should be able to accept that religion can add to the national debate but not dominate it.

You don’t necessarily have to have any religious faith or agree with the views of the Catholic or Anglican Church, but they still have a legitimate right to be heard. I was certainly interested in hearing what the Pope had to say, and see what significance his visit would have to the country.

Monday, 13 September 2010

My favourite Blogs: The Sartorialist

Being a blogger I naturally like to read lots of other blogs. Some for ideas and inspiration and other because I just really like those blogs. I thought I'd start a new series of posts looking at some of my favourite blogs.

To begin with, I'm going to look at the fashion blog The Sartorialist, which was one of the first blogs I started following.

What's great about The Sartorialist is its simplicity. You have one man, Scott Schuman who one day decided to take photos of the clothes people were wearing on the streets of New York.

Schuman says on his blog:

"I started The Sartorialist simply to share photos of people that I saw on the streets of New York that I thought looked great."

The Sartorialist from Amsterdam Worldwide on Vimeo.



Take a look at some of these videos, which gives you a taste of what The Sartorialist is all about.
The Sartorialist has become one of the most influential blogs in the world of fashion. What I've always loved are the photos, and the individual styles that people create for themselves with the clothes they wear.

Schuman's now branched out from taking photos of New Yorkers and his blog regularly features the sartorial styles in other fashion capitals like London, Paris, and Milan.

If you happen to be in any of these cities and someone asks to take a photo of the clothes you're wearing, you now know who it might be.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The misleading title of the 'Ground Zero Mosque'

In the last week we’ve had the controversy of the Florida Pastor Terry Jones threatening to burn copies of the Koran to mark the 9th anniversary of 9/11.

Thankfully it didn’t go ahead, but he convenienently decided to link his campaign with the protests in New York against the so-called ‘Ground Zero’ Mosque, which has caused a political storm in America.

This weekend there were demonstrations in New York with people demonstrating for and against the proposals to build the Mosque

Check out this video I found from the Huffington Post reporting on the demonstrations this week.

video

If a Mosque was being built on the site of Ground Zero itself, then I would accept the protesters argument. It would be an insensitive act, but this isn't the case.
The ‘Ground Zero’ Mosque title is misleading in itself. Firstly it's not going to be a Mosque but an Islamic cultural centre. Secondly, far from being on the site of Ground Zero, the proposed location is actually two blocks away.

Finally, the project known as Park51 had been approved and written about as far back as December of last year. I didn’t hear about it then and there were no protests or demonstrations. In recent months a number of right-wing politicians and bloggers have brought the story to the nation’s attention.

This Mosque controversy along with the proposed Koran book burning suggests to me that the so-called War on Terror is now viewed as a War on Islam.

I also think America is struggling to live up to its ideals as the World’s leading democracy. As a nation America never tires of telling the rest of the world that the principles of liberty, freedom and tolerance are enshrined in its constitution.

But there’s a growing intolerance, a politics of fear developing in the country, and this growing hostility to Islam is an example of this.

I thought the video above gave a good example of the arguments for and against the Mosque. I tended to agree with the guy who said, America had fought in Iraq to bring democracy to the country, yet in America that same democracy is being denied to some Americans.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Public Interest or Gossip? The Wayne Rooney 'Sex Scandal'

Earlier today I watched a Wayne Rooney-less Manchester Utd throw away a two goal lead in injury time, allowing Everton to salvage a 3-3 draw.

Later on I heard that Alex Ferguson had chosen not to pick Rooney for today's game because of the abuse he would get from Everton fans.

Rooney always gets a load of stick when he returns to Everton, but he would have got even more abuse this time round, following the allegations in last week's News of the World, that he'd paid for sex with prostitutes, despite his wife Coleen being pregnant.

Personally it doesn't bother me. The story's not a huge shock, he's got previous form when it comes to these things. Most comments I've heard from football fans say they're not bothered about what he does in his private life.

So why is this such a huge story? Is it in the public interest or just gossip about other people's lives?
Early in the week, a friend at work sent me a link to an article by the Telegraph and former England Rugby Union star Brian Moore.

He was writing about the Wayne Rooney story which you should read here. After having a look at it, I decided I should write something myself.

I agree with Moore's point that footballers in England are burdened with a level of moral responsibility that at times is hard to understand.

If Rooney was a rock star, like a member of the Rolling Stones for arguments sake; it would still be a big story but there wouldn't be this level of moralising.

Lots of people have affairs and problems in their marriage but they still seem capable of performing in their day to day jobs. But when it comes to football we have to question whether Rooney is in the 'right state of mind' to play for England or whether he's a suitable role model.

If I was a footballer I'd resent this idea that I'm meant to this major role model for millions of young people into football. If you want to talk about role models, then people's parents are usually a good start.

Sections of the Press will argue it's right to expose this story because it's in the public interest; particularly when footballers take out super-injunctions in the courts preventing publication or discussion surrounding the issue in question.

I'm not a fan of the super-injunction as it is a threat to press freedom, but the Press undermine this argument when they use the 'public interest' defence for kiss and tell stories.

If you want an example of a true public interest story in recent years, then look at the MP expenses scandal. This story was brilliant as it exposed the corruption and wrong doing of this country's elected members of parliament.

Wayne Rooney or some other footballer sleeping with women who aren't their wives are not public interest stories - it's just gossip!

There's nothing wrong with a bit of gossip, I buy the News of the World every week. I admit I might be part of the problem as I help to create a market for this sort of thing. But the press need to be more honest with themselves and put things into perspective.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Why don’t the media ignore ‘Koran Burning’ Pastor?

The more I hear about this Florida Pastor who claims he'll be burning copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 - the more I think this story is becoming ridiculous.

Why are politicians and the world media allowing Terry Jones an obscure, unheard of Pastor, create an international crisis?
I was reading about this story a few days ago. The Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow wrote a really good piece which you can read here.

He said 50 years ago, the world would never have heard of this bloke, I agree. In our modern media age a religious bigot, from a sleepy backwater with a congregation of only 50 can hold the world's attention with his ignorant comments.

The more the politicians and the media talk about the story, the worse it gets. Now today even President Obama has said it would be a ‘recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda’ if Jones goes ahead with his plans.

Everyone should ignore this story. If on Saturday Jones goes ahead with his Nazi style book burning, then lets not have tv crews filming the event, lets not broadcast it around the world. Just pretend it's not happening.

Of course I know this isn't going to happen, but this story doesn't merit the level of attention it's getting.

I also hope that if Jones does burn copies of the Koran, then Muslim communities around the world show some common sense and accept this is the action of one extremist bigot.

The last thing we want to see is more cliched clips of angry men in the Middle East burning the American flag in anger.

Hopefully it won't come to this, but we'll have to wait and see what happens at the weekend.

Terry Jones subsequently cancelled his plans to burn the Koran

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Change of blog title

For those of you who are regulars on here (I'm hoping there's a few of you) I've decided to change the title of my blog.

It's now going to be known as 'Newspotting' and not 'A blog with me Rodney D'. I've decided to make this change as I think the title is a better reflection of what I think the blog is all about.

When I first started blogging I wanted to include my name in the title as I thought this would be a better way of promoting myself and my blog.

What I've found with blogging is that your blog and writing is always developing and evolving. I recently had a redesign and this included my own personalised domain name of: rodney-dennis.com

Having my own personalised website address means that my name is out there being promoted and people will know who I am. Because of this, I think it's now a good time to change the title to something more appropriate.

I'm always on the look out for interesting news stories to discuss and talk about with people, so I think the title of 'Newspotting' reflects this.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Tabloid Phone - Hacking

This story has re-emerged in the news this week.

A former News of the World journalist has come out claiming that its former editor Andy Coulsen who's now the Tory Party’s Director of Communications knew about the practise, despite previously denying all knowledge of such activities taking place.

Coulsen is now facing renewed pressure to hold onto his position in government because of these new allegations.

I touched upon this subject last year in a blog I wrote titled: Journalism back in the gutter!

This is what I said about phoning-hacking and the News of he World:

He [Coulsen] was the Editor of the News of the World at the time of this phone tapping scandal, and resigned as a result of it. He claimed that he personally didn’t know that this type of activity was taking place.

I think that if he didn’t realise this was going on, then he wasn’t doing a very good job as editor, but he must have been aware of the general culture within his newspaper and the industry in general when it came to finding news stories.


Because the reporter who made the allegations against Coulsen was sacked from the News of the World, he's being dismissed as a former employee with a grudge, but Andy Coulsen has again come out to say he didn't know or sanction phone - hacking when he was editor.

This story is back in the news following an investigation by the New York Times which looked into phone-hacking in the British press.

One thing I didn't realise is that earlier this year a News of the World reporter was suspended for this very practise, and a legal case is being brought against the paper on this issue. This suggests this has been going on for years.

I found this out from reading one of my favourite blogs: Tabloid Watch, which looks at the reporting of the British press.

What's interesting which Tabloid Watch and a few other journalism blogs have noted, is that a lot of the national papers are ignoring this story.

I wonder why this is? Why are they being so quiet? Could it be because phone-hacking is a practise that's commonly known about and used amongst sections of the national press? I think so.

Papers usually take great pleasure in the struggles of their rivals, but at the moment we're not hearing other sections of the press condemning the News of the World. Even in today’s Sunday Times there was nothing on the story.

I’m now wondering whether this story is going to disappear again like it did last year, or if it’s going to stick around and develop.

What I do know, is that it’s putting even more pressure on Andy Coulsen. If it’s found he did know about and sanction phone-hacking during his time as editor of the News of the World, it's going to be difficult for him to hang onto his job.

Not only would it be a huge blow to the government, but it would also question the judgement of the Prime Minster David Cameron in appointing Coulsen in the first place.

Hague should have ignored the blogging gossip

A strange thing happened to me last week – I actually had some sympathy for a senior Conservative MP.

I admit it, I’m not really a fan of Tories, but I have felt sorry for William Hague, and these rumours alleging a relationship between him and his former special adviser Christopher Myers.

It was a bad PR move by Hague to issue the press statement, denying a relationship with Myers, before detailing the problems he and his wife have had in trying for a baby.

Apparently he ignored advice from Downing Street advising him to release a more restrained statement. He made a mistake by not doing this, and in the end what was released ended up sounding like someone saying:

‘look at me, I’m having sex with my wife to get her pregnant, I can’t possibly be gay’

I know this wasn’t the intention, but that’s what it sounded like. What was just a rumour within political circles suddenly became a national news story.

I accept there was the issue on whether Myers a 25-year-old graduate was qualified for the role of special adviser – but it’s almost as if rumours of a relationship between the two were spread just to question Hague's appointment of Myers.

These rumours have been on the internet for a few weeks now, but they gained more attention following a posting by right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes.

During the election campaign, Hague and Myers shared the same room at a hotel in Birmingham.

This is what Guido Fawkes wrote on his blog in relation to how the two were acting the next morning at breakfast:

‘One witness told Guido that the room sharing couple’s body language at breakfast was eye opening.’

This is classic nudge nudge wink wink innuendo!

What I think’s become clear, is just how influential blogging and certain bloggers have become. Hague clearly felt he had to put a stop to these rumours once and for all following Guido’s post.

Guido Fawkes is a well-known blogger within political circles. I know about his blog and read it occasionally. I’ve made it my business to know about these types of high profile blogs, which is understandable being a blogger myself.

The thing is, outside of the Westminster village and political journalism, I doubt whether many people have ever heard of Guido Fawkes. If Hague had just ignored the rumours as he was advised, they would have stayed rumours within a small political world.

By making such a public statement, Hague’s acknowledging just how important and influential Guido’s blog has become.

There are millions of blogs out there in the web universe, many are never read by anyone. Some are just an excuse for people to rant and write any old rubbish regardless of whether it’s true or not.

There are however some blogs which become essential reading within certain professions, businesses, and communities. They have high value, useful content, and are respected by a particular audience who read these blogs to gain specialist information.

Guido Fawkes is in this category and he's become one of the most influential political bloggers in the country.

The problem with blogging is that bloggers aren’t necessarily obliged to follow any codes of conduct or apply journalistic principles to their writing.

What I mean by this, is that trained reporters on newspapers are required to check facts, sources, and make sure what’s written is accurate and correct. These are some of the principles that reporters are meant to adhere to,

Don't worry, I do realise that some people will be laughing at the suggestion that the words accuracy and tabloid journalism are some how connected!

This is the theory anyway, which even I’ve had to learn about. Bloggers don’t have any code of conduct which they need to meet. They don’t have to consider issues of accuracy or whether what they write is defamatory or not.

None of the tabloids have reported the rumours on Hague, if they had done they could have faced libel action being brought against them, which can cost papers thousands of pounds.

There’s no point in suing most bloggers, as there’s no money to be made from them. I know I don’t have money to fight any legal battles, so I’m going to be careful on what I write on here, and put my media law training to good use.

Having read about this story, I do wonder whether some high profile bloggers who know they have a certain amount of influence, should use a form of self regulation or try and apply some journalistic codes of conduct when writing on their blogs.

What next for Pakistan Cricket?

It was only a couple of weeks ago I was thinking to myself,

‘There hasn’t been any controversy this year in the Test series between England and Pakistan’

You can always rely on some cricketing controversy whenever Pakistan tour England. With perfect timing the News of the World printed its exclusive last week which claimed that Mazhar Majeed a cricket agent had taken £150,000 as payment for three no balls to be bowled at pre-arranged times during the fourth Test at Lords.

The allegations are proving to be the biggest match-fixing scandal in recent years.
It’s been reported that Pakistan’s captain Salman Butt, and fast bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif face 23 charges between them under the ICC’s (International Cricket Council) anti-corruption code of conduct.

Last Friday, the three cricketers were questioned by anti-fraud police in relation to the bowling of the three no - balls.

Although no players have so far been found guilty of any offence, investigators have recovered between £35,00 in marked cash from the hotel rooms of Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir.

From everything I’ve read, it’s not looking good for the three accused players. I’d be amazed if at the end the investigation nobody if found guilty of something.

Now today the Pakistani batsman Yasir Hameed has accused some of his fellow teammates of fixing a number of games.

If things couldn’t get any worse for Pakistan, the story is now snowballing to the point that there’s now question marks over other matches which took place in the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean this year and other Test matches.

There’s something rotten at the very heart of Pakistani cricket. Cricket in Pakistan seems more susceptible to betting corruption. Even if the allegations are found proved, how do we know if anything will change in the culture of Pakistan cricket?

If the players are found guilty, they're likely to face some sort of ban from the game, probably a lifetime ban.

If this is the case I agree with a ban. I can’t think of any other punishment that could send out a stronger message that cricket will not tolerate such corruption.

A lot of people are making a case for the 18 year old bowler Mohammad Amir to be shown some leniency on account of his age, inexperience and poor background.

I have tended to agree with this myself, I think it would be difficult for most 18 year olds to say no in this situation. As for his background I've been reading that since a young age he’s been paid a very good salary - enough to support his family.

Maybe nothing special in terms of UK salaries but in comparison to what people live on in Pakistan it’s still quite comfortable. It’s made me think again about how much sympathy should be afforded to him.

Perhaps Pakistan need some time away from international cricket in order to sort themselves out. Not an outright ban, but just a time away from the international game to get their house in order, and show the cricketing world that they're putting in place mechanisms to combat corruption.

Pakistan are now in a position that they can’t play cricket at home anymore because of security issues and now there’s the issue over match fixing, they can’t really go on like this.

Suspending or banning Pakistan from international cricket would be I admit a drastic measure, it would also be a loss to the game.

This summer they’ve shown flashes of brilliance along with ineptitude, but as a cricketing nation they’ve always been highly talented and entertaining.

Cricket needs Pakistan.

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.