By Tony Blair
Hutchinson – £25.00
From the initial rumblings of New Labour to the death of Princess Diana, from the war in Kosovo to the war in Iraq, Tony Blair – A Journey, really is akin to reading a collection of parliamentarian soliloquies in bloom.
Clocking in at just under seven hundred pages, it’s immediately evident right from the outset, that one is neither able to argue against, nor fundamentally arouse anything other than what has already herein been crucially considered. Considered that is, by a former Prime Minister who let’s face, almost knew what he was doing before he himself found himself doing it.
Substantiation of the latter can be found on numerous occasions throughout the recently released first volume of the Alastair Campbell Diaries: Prelude To Power; although said book (which I have also reviewed) bestows a different form of political mythologizing altogether. Where Campbell’s equally dense writings are shot straight from the literary hip, Blair’s penmanship is of a far more politically porcelain, and philosophical persuasion.
In fact, much of the writing throughout A Journey could be construed as being drenched in a cataclysmic form of self-induced, esoteric tunnel vision; bordering perhaps, on the mildly arrogant. Arrogant, not in a robust, off putting way, but in a far more refined and dare I say it, almost incontestable manner.
A mere few sentences into the following analysis in the third chapter, ‘New Labour’ – there being many such sentences replete with oodles of such analysis – irrefutably hits the aforesaid on the head: ‘’For example, are you in favour of a tough approach on law and order or not? Do you support the war in Afghanistan fully or not? Are you for reform or status quo in public services? Do we need less, more or the same amount of public spending? Are you in favour of tax cuts, and if so, for whom […]?
Politicians, in one way rightly mistrusting the crudity of such simple positioning, don’t like this […]. The holy grail is to have everyone onside; and I’m not saying I didn’t pursue it fairly vigorously and, at points, more successfully than most.’
However, you have to be able to answer those questions plainly and clearly. There can be qualifications and ‘get-outs,’ but the answers must remain comprehensible, because they define you.’’
And wasn’t it always such clear-cut definition, which ultimately defined the Blair Years as whole?
Come rain or shine, make or bust; New Labour, as vaingloriously defined by Messrs. Blair and Campbell, was, if nothing else, a reflexive custodian and confluence of both Sun and Guardian readers simultaneously, forever monitored and adhered to by four of the most brazen political minds (Blair and Campbell, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson), ever to traipse across the threshold of Downing Street.
That said, to openly acknowledge one’s own strong points and success is one thing. To blatantly write about it on numerous occasions in ones’ own book, is altogether another. To do so, and still be regarded as an okay sort of chap whom one would still want to share a couple of pints with down the pub, is indeed special – if not bordering on genius. And it is this quality, this normality, this bordering on genius, which surely accounted for a great deal of Tony Blair’s mighty successful tenure at the helm of British politics.
Similar in tonality and content to that of Barack Obama’s Dreams Of My Father – who too, isn’t shy of espousing his political charm, charisma and credentials in public – this is the sort of (tomb like) book that bequeaths readers with either hope or inspiration, or, should the pendulum fall within earshot of council house wrecks and former Etonians, a fraudulent feeling of dismissive frustration.
Either way, Tony Blair – A Journey is an interesting and compelling read. The kind of which, is nigh guaranteed to beguile the chattering classes into many a late night orgy of discursive deliberation and design.