Tweeting Blair’s Journey

Over the last three days, I’ve been reading Tony Blair’s memoir, A Journey, and tweeting.

Twitterfeeds can be fiddly creatures, especially since things appear in reverse order, so, for easy reading, I’ve reproduced the results below the fold in a more sensible format.

Enjoy!

1. It is fitting, I think, that http://tonyblairajourney.com redirects you to the Private Eye website. Wed Sep 1 08:56:33 2010 via web

2. @redmikerowley Right. Wed Sep 1 09:00:34 2010 via web in reply to redmikerowley

3. BRITONS! Take your mind off Mr Blair by looking at tehgraun’s excellent gallery of photos of orphaned elephants! http://tinyurl.com/3x3t4fw Wed Sep 1 09:12:47 2010 via web

4. The orphaned elephants didn’t distract me for long enough, and now I have bought the bloody thing (discounted to half-price already!) … Wed Sep 1 09:29:57 2010 via web

5. … and I now have it with me in the Patristics room of the Old Bodleian Library, which seems appropriate… Wed Sep 1 09:30:31 2010 via web

6. @paul_sagar Yes – “I bet Gandhi was the same” is cracking. Wed Sep 1 09:31:03 2010 via web in reply to paul_sagar

Introduction

7. Blair, p. xvi: “… I was and remain first & foremost not so much a politician of traditional left or right, but a moderniser.” Wed Sep 1 09:45:28 2010 via web

8. Blair, p. xvii: “It is true that my head can sometimes think conservatively especially on economics and security…” Wed Sep 1 09:47:16 2010 via web

9. [cont.] “… but my heart always beats progressive, and my soul is and always will be that of a rebel.” Wed Sep 1 09:47:50 2010 via web

Chapter One: High Expectations

10. Oh, blissful! Blair, p. 3, on election night in 1997: “Even then, the enormity of what was about to happen didn’t really sink in.” Wed Sep 1 09:53:44 2010 via web

11. OED definition, “enormity”: “Deviation from moral or legal rectitude. In later use influenced by ENORMOUS. Extreme or monstrous wickedness”. Wed Sep 1 09:55:28 2010 via web

12. OED alternative definition of “enormity”: “A breach of law or morality; a transgression, crime; in later use, a gross & monstrous offence.” Wed Sep 1 09:56:06 2010 via web

13. Blair, p. 4, on 1997 election: “Hadn’t we fought a great campaign? Hadn’t we impaled our enemies on our bayonet, like ripe fruit?” Wed Sep 1 10:00:24 2010 via web

14. Blair on the 1997 manifesto [p. 6]: It was “written essentially to capture a mood” & its details were “necessarily & deliberately limited”. Wed Sep 1 10:03:50 2010 via web

15. @joshspero On the evidence of the first eight pages, it is a very bad book, very badly written. Wed Sep 1 10:06:59 2010 via web in reply to joshspero

16. Blair, p. 10: “My mental discipline was total.” Wed Sep 1 10:10:22 2010 via web

17. Blair, p.13: “I voted Labour in 1983. I didn’t really think a Labour victory was the best thing for the country, & I was a Labour candidate” Wed Sep 1 10:15:58 2010 via web

18. Curiously, Blair claims [p. 16] that one of his 1st thoughts on seeing the Cabinet Room after 1997 election victory was of Michael Collins. Wed Sep 1 10:30:39 2010

19. Ah – the film had come out the year before. Perhaps that explains it. Wed Sep 1 10:30:52 2010 via web

20. Blair [p. 16] says that he was “irrationally disturbed” when the Cabinet Secretary told him that he had been studying the Labour manifesto. Wed Sep 1 10:32:48 2010

21. Blair on his politics in 1997 [p. 26]: “I was middle class, & my politics were in many ways middle class…one-nation politics…a unifier”. Wed Sep 1 10:47:34 2010 via web

22. On the evidence of the first 27 pages, Blair is an extraordinarily self-centred person. It’s a curiously ego-obsessed book. Wed Sep 1 10:48:54 2010 via web

Chapter Two: The Apprentice Leader

23. Blair, p. 32: He joins the Labour Party. But then, “my views began to shift”. He meets Derry Irvine, who “taught me how to think”. Wed Sep 1 10:53:52 2010 via web

24. Blair, on 1st time visiting H of Commons: “I was thunderstruck. It just hit me. This was where I wanted to be…This was my destiny.” [p.34] Wed Sep 1 10:57:51 2010 via web

25. Another curious moment: Blair on Tony Benn [p. 37]: “He was the preacher, not the general. And battles aren’t won by preachers.” Wed Sep 1 11:00:52 2010 via web

26. Tony Blair, lightweight [p. 38]: “For me, past a very limited point I wd be ill, fall asleep & for sure be punished severely the next day.” Wed Sep 1 11:03:43 2010 via web

27. Although Labour won 34% of vote in 1992, & polled v. well afterwards, Blair says [p.40] that in 1992 the party “hit a 32% ceiling”. Wed Sep 1 11:11:46 2010 via web

28. @mrianleslie Of course. But it’s far more ego-maniac than most of the political biographies I’ve read in my life–& I’ve read quite a lot. Wed Sep 1 11:17:55 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

29. @mrianleslie Did I say “most”? I meant “all”. Wed Sep 1 11:20:40 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

30. @hal_berstram Well, awful, but also grimly fascinating. Wed Sep 1 11:30:07 2010 via web in reply to hal_berstram

31. Blair, p. 43: “The intellectuals’ belief in equality strayed dangerously into the realm of equality of income, not equality of opprtunity.” Wed Sep 1 11:33:24 2010 via web

32. More Blair illiteracy: “rose to a crescendo”, p. 46 (actually this page is quite funny, as he describes being humiliated by Dennis Skinner). Wed Sep 1 11:37:15 2010 via web

33. (Happily, someone says afterwards, “Don’t worry, you were the only one in there talking any sense, & I’m as working class as any of them.”) Wed Sep 1 11:38:35 2010 via web

34. (Even more happily, this particular working-class chap was “tough, eye-wateringly so, on law and order.”) [p. 48] Wed Sep 1 11:40:06 2010 via web

35. @mrianleslie Maybe so, but on the evidence of the first 50 pages, there’s nothing interesting in it about the psychology of leadership. Wed Sep 1 11:42:11 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

36. @mrianleslie Just stuff about how as a leader you are on your own & not everyone will like the decisions you make. “To decide is to divide.” Wed Sep 1 11:42:51 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

37. Blair, p. 50: “… the character, likeability and personality of the leader are of paramount importance. They can determine the election… Wed Sep 1 11:47:26 2010 via web

38. [Cont.] “… and this is now always a major, if not the major factor. Simple as that.” Wed Sep 1 11:47:51 2010 via web

39. I didn’t know that TB & GB used to go to the Carlyle Hotel in New York “from time to time, essentially just to get away and think” [p. 55] Wed Sep 1 11:53:19 2010 via web

40. Blair, as Shadow Home Secretary [p. 58]: “I felt a growing sense of belief, almost of destiny.” Wed Sep 1 11:55:52 2010 via web

41. Blair, in 1994, to Cherie [p.61]: “If John dies, I will be leader, not Gordon. And somehow, I think this will happen. I just think it will.” Wed Sep 1 12:00:17 2010 via web

Chapter Three: New Labour

42. Blair, p. 65: “On that night of 12 May 1994, I needed that love Cherie gave me, selfishly. I devoured it to give me strength.” Wed Sep 1 12:03:56 2010 via web

43. [Cont.] “I was an animal following my instinct…” Wed Sep 1 12:04:16 2010 via web

44. It’s not just that bit. The stuff about the leadership election in 1994 is all really weirdly sexual: with Mandelson (“you know I love you”) Wed Sep 1 12:06:48 2010 via web

45. On Brown (“to have defeated him wd have been to have mastered him”), & then reminiscing about 1st girlf (“incredible outpouring of desire”). Wed Sep 1 12:08:07 2010 via web

46. @leannetritton Sorry! Wed Sep 1 12:13:36 2010 via web in reply to leannetritton

47. @mngreenall Grimly fascinating, it’s grimly fascinating. Wed Sep 1 12:14:07 2010 via web in reply to mngreenall

48. Blair, p. 75: “Personally, the thought of going on holiday w people active in politics appalled me.” But he holidayed with Berlusconi! Wed Sep 1 12:16:37 2010 via web

49. Blair claims Clause IV was drafted by Sidney Webb in “1917”. Usually, the date is given as 1918. If an error, an interesting error to make. Wed Sep 1 12:18:18 2010 via web

50. @mrianleslie Hi–look at all the quotes I’ve provided together on pp.62-7, not just that one. It’s very sexualised language throughout. Wed Sep 1 12:23:19 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

51. @nextleft Thanks. (Do you think that it *was* drafted, or that it might have been drafted then?) Wed Sep 1 12:24:16 2010 via web in reply to nextleft

52. Blair, p. 79: “Politically, Pete [Thomson] was on the left, but religion came first. Therefore, so, in a sense, it did for me.” Wed Sep 1 12:26:54 2010 via web

53. On p. 79, Blair writes of how after reading Macmurray he “developed a theory about the basis of socialism being about ‘community’… Wed Sep 1 12:29:00 2010 via web

54. … Concerning which, everyone shd read Sarah Hale’s excellent article, “Professor Macmurray and Mr. Blair”… http://tinyurl.com/38mahqx Wed Sep 1 12:30:23 2010 via web

55. … Which shows very clearly how Blair obviously didn’t actually understand what he was reading… Wed Sep 1 12:31:03 2010 via web

56. @nextleft Thanks, again! (I think Adonis read the MS, so I’m not actually surprised he’s getting things like this right.) Wed Sep 1 12:31:41 2010 via web in reply to nextleft

57. @mngreenall Thankyou. Wed Sep 1 12:32:02 2010 via web in reply to mngreenall

58. @sarahditum @mrianleslie And, to go back to yr earlier comment, insofar as there’s anything interesting on the psych. of L, it’s this stuff. Wed Sep 1 12:33:10 2010 via web in reply to sarahditum

59. @mrianleslie All I can say is read pp. 62-7. The tone of the book changes sharply: everything he writes about is erotically charged. Wed Sep 1 12:35:05 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

60. @mrianleslie And, yes, it is weird. If he was writing intelligently or interestingly about sex, it would be different. But he isn’t. Wed Sep 1 12:35:46 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

61. Blair, p. 83: “My favourite parable of the Gospel, the parable of the sower, always served as an ex.: the difference between plain Labour… Wed Sep 1 12:42:41 2010 via web

62. “& modernised Labour was the diff. between the seed that sprouted but never took real root, & the seed that yielded 30, 60, a hundredfold.” Wed Sep 1 12:43:29 201 via web

63. @mrianleslie I don’t think he’s boring. I find him fascinating. That’s why I’m spending a morning reading his sodding book. Wed Sep 1 12:44:49 2010 via web in reply to mrianleslie

64. Blair says, p. 88, that it wd have been “wickedly irresponsible” to send his kids to an “average state school”. Wed Sep 1 12:51:02 2010 via web

65. Blair says on p.79 that the basis of socialism is the “community”, on p.90 that the purpose of the Labour Party was “about the individual”. Wed Sep 1 12:56:42 2010 via web

66. Blair, p. 98, confesses his “grudging respect and even liking” for Rupert Murdoch. Wed Sep 1 13:02:45 2010 via web

67. The two “points of connection” he felt he had with Murdoch were that “he was an outsider, and he had balls”. Wed Sep 1 13:03:22 2010 via web

68. (Blair is, in fact, quite interested in testicles: they’ve been mentioned a few times so far, inc. Campbell’s “clanking great balls”.) Wed Sep 1 13:05:05 2010 via web

69. (Kate Garvey, e.g., “ran the diary w a grip of iron & was quite prepared to squeeze the balls v. hard indeed of anyone who interfered…”) Wed Sep 1 13:06:41 2010 via web

70. [Cont.] (“… but with a winning smile, of course” [p. 20].) Wed Sep 1 13:07:06 201 via web

71. Blair concedes, pp. 102-3, that his description of Britain as a “Young Country” c. 1995 or so, was “a phrase somewhat mocked”. Wed Sep 1 13:10:30 2010 via web

72. Blair says, p.104, that it is not true that Cherie & Carole Caplin had showers together. Blair found her (Carole) “exotic” and “refreshing”. Wed Sep 1 13:12:17 2010 via web

73. OK—that’s the first 3 chapters. Off for a break now. Wed Sep 1 13:13:00 2010 via web

Chapter Four: Honeymoon

74. @Paul0Evans1 Although to be fair to her, and to Blair (who emphasises this), CC never did sell her story to the tabloids. Wed Sep 1 13:19:21 2010 via web in reply to Paul0Evans1

75. donpaskini new post: people and things that are more popular with voters than tony blair http://is.gd/ePeX7 Wed Sep 1 13:38:24 2010 via web Retweeted by you and 2 others

76. I’ll just make myself a cup of coffee, and then return to the necessary work of the day. (I’m also waiting at home for a fridge to arrive.) Wed Sep 1 14:25:23 2010 via web

77. Gladstone took laudanum to steady his nerves before debates in the House of Commons. Blair used melatonin before PMQs. Wed Sep 1 14:40:44 2010 via web

78. Blair, p. 116: “I wanted to preserve, in terms of competitive tax rates, the essential Thatcher/Howe/Lawson legacy.” Wed Sep 1 14:45:00 2010 via web

79. [Cont.] “I wanted wealthy people to feel at home and welcomed in the UK…” Wed Sep 1 14:45:34 2010 via web

80. Blair, p. 117: “I have a somewhat weirdly optimistic view of the power of reason…” Wed Sep 1 14:46:24 2010 via web

81. Blair, p. 120, thinks that the Coalition will not last long if electoral reform doesn’t come through. Wed Sep 1 14:50:45 2010 via web

82. Blair, pp.124-5, recounts fantasy of stepping down as PM after two terms, “reputation and soul intact”, “still popular”. “That was my hope”. Wed Sep 1 14:55:12 2010 via web

83. Blair, p. 126, reports “a tug, not of regret but of nostalgia for the old British Empire” when attending Hong Kong’s 1997 handover ceremony. Wed Sep 1 14:57:15 2010 via web

84. Blair, p. 126: “I came to regret the whole characterisation around the issue of so-called ‘sleaze’.” Wed Sep 1 14:58:18 2010 via web

85. Blair, p. 127: “I completely missed the fact that… millionaire donors… in government… would very quickly be seen as buying influence.” Wed Sep 1 14:59:39 2010 via web

86. Blair on the Ecclestone donation, p. 129: we were, “in this instance fairly, whacked for it”. Wed Sep 1 15:03:37 2010 via web

87. Blair, p.130: “New Labour, New Britain did not seem like hubris. On the contrary, it chimed with something real in the mood of the country.” Wed Sep 1 15:05:36 2010 via web

Chapter Five: Princess Diana

88. Blair. p. 142, summarises the plot of the film, “The Queen”. Wed Sep 1 15:13:11 2010 via web

89. Blair, p. 143: “I am not a great one for the Establishment. It’s probably at heart why I’m in the Labour Party and always will be.” Wed Sep 1 15:14:17 2010 via web

90. Blair, p. 144, on Prince Charles: “At one level he was quite New Labour”. Wed Sep 1 15:15:51 2010 via web

91. Blair, p. 149, on the booze at Balmoral: “But this stuff — I was never quite sure what it was — was absolutely what was needed.” Wed Sep 1 15:19:18 2010 via web

Chapter Six: Peace in Northern Ireland

92. Blair’s Norn Iron chapter begins, p.152, obviously enough, with the old Churchill staple about “the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone” Wed Sep 1 15:21:31 2010 via web

93. Blair to McGuinness, p. 154, showing him Cromwell’s death mask at Chequers: “So you see, he really is dead.” MMcG: “I wouldn’t bet on it”. Wed Sep 1 15:23:30 2010 via web

94. I did not know that Blair’s maternal grandfather had been Grand Master of an Orange lodge. p. 154. Wed Sep 1 15:25:34 2010 via web

95. Blair, p. 156: “Even now as I write these words, I feel sick.” What prompted this? A memory of the smell of his Great-Aunt Lizzie’s house. Wed Sep 1 15:29:01 2010 via web

96. First explicit reference to Blair’s “Messiah complex” comes courtesy of Jonathan Powell on p. 157. Wed Sep 1 15:30:01 2010 via web

97. Blair, p. 157, calls the unspeakable F. E. Smith a “great figure”. Wed Sep 1 15:31:36 2010 via web

98. Blair seems to think, p. 158, that the Irish joined the EU in the 1980s. The Republic in fact joined on the same day as the UK, in 1973. Wed Sep 1 15:33:24 2010 via web

99. Blair, p.165, thought the Bloody Sunday inquiry a “classic example” of why inquiries were a bad idea, until the report “proved me wrong”. Wed Sep 1 15:42:57 2010 via web

100.Blair concedes, p.166, it was funny that he said on GF98 that “today is not a day for soundbites”, then babbled about “the hand of history”. Wed Sep 1 15:46:18 2010 via web

101.Blair, p. 167: “One myth about me is that I prefer the broad brush to the detail.” Wed Sep 1 15:47:26 2010 via web

102.Blair, p.170: “The SDLP thought that they often got ignored. ‘If we had weapons you’d treat us more seriously.’ There was some truth in it.” Wed Sep 1 15:49:26 2010 via web

103.p.173:Ahern doesn’t take Ullans as seriously as Trimble, & asks him “to speak some of the ‘fecking thing’ so we cd hear what it sounds like” Wed Sep 1 15:53:33 2010 via web

104.Blair says, p.178, that the Gd Fri Agree’nt was one of the few times he felt “content, fulfilled & proud”, adding “There weren’t many more!” Wed Sep 1 16:00:09 2010 via web

105.Blair’s only reference to sex with donkeys (I think–I hope) comes on p. 184. Wed Sep 1 16:05:06 2010 via web

106.I’ll let you know, obvs., if there’s another one. Wed Sep 1 16:05:23 2010 via web

107.(He was, to give a bit of context, talking about the IRA decommissioning its weapons.) Wed Sep 1 16:05:57 2010 via web

108.Blair, p.195: Ian Paisley asks Blair if God wants him to agree to the Good Friday Agreement. Blair says, p.186, that he can’t answer that Q. Wed Sep 1 16:17:20 2010 via web

109.Blair says, p. 196, that he thinks his granny’s Paisleyite politics caused him to “have a soft spot” for Ian Paisley. Wed Sep 1 16:18:05 2010 via web

110.Blair, p. 197: The Sinn Fein / IRA relationship was, he thought, like that between the Labour Party leadership and the NEC. Wed Sep 1 16:19:41 2010 via web

111.OK — I’m six chapters in. Having another pause now, during which, I hope, the new fridge will be delivered. Wed Sep 1 16:21:04 2010 via web

Chapter Seven: ‘We Govern in Prose’

112.The new fridge is here, hooray, but the instructions say not to try switching it on for a few hours. Right: chapter 7, “We Govern in Prose”. Wed Sep 1 16:44:03 2010 via web

113.Blair writes, p. 201, of how “in order to circumvent the party” he constructed “an alliance between myself and the public.” Wed Sep 1 16:46:06 2010 via web

114.Blair, p. 203: “But to talk of a ‘working class’ [c. 1998 or so] just seemed odd, correct but somehow uncomprehending.” Wed Sep 1 16:47:55 2010 via web

115.Blair, p.204:”The right-wing phrase, ‘underclass’, was ugly, but it was accurate.” People at the bottom “had dysfunctional lives, full stop” Wed Sep 1 16:49:35 2010 via web

116.Blair: the “post-Holocaust system” on asylum (p. 204) was “completely unrealistic in the late C20th” (p. 205). Wed Sep 1 16:51:52 2010 via web

117.The problem, p. 205, was fuelled by the triple combination of the courts (“with their liberal instinct”), ECHR & the UN Refugee Convention. Wed Sep 1 16:53:07 2010 via web

118.Blair: the Civil Service, p. 205, was “every bit as much in thrall to the left-wing Establishment” as to the right-wing Establishment. Wed Sep 1 16:54:47 2010 via web

119.@PreachyPreach The main text goes down to p. 691. Wed Sep 1 16:55:48 2010 via web in reply to PreachyPreach

120.Blair, p. 207, reflects sympathetically on Neville Chamberlain and his “noble ambition” to prevent another war. Wed Sep 1 16:58:32 2010 via web

121.Chamberlain, p. 209, failed to see that the key Q was whether fascism was “so strong and rooted that it has to be uprooted & destroyed”. Wed Sep 1 17:01:19 2010 via web

122.@paul_sagar Yes. Wed Sep 1 17:06:18 2010 via web in reply to paul_sagar

123.Oddly, the three pages on Neville Chamberlain are sandwiched in the middle of a discussion of public service reform, c. 1998. Wed Sep 1 17:08:45 2010 via web

124.Blair, top of p. 213, offers a surprisingly good precis of the first chapter of the Communist Manifesto in just six lines… Wed Sep 1 17:10:54 2010 via web

125.@paul_sagar Yes. But it’s a certain kind of stupidity. In some ways, he’s sharp. His isn’t an academic intellect. But there are other kinds. Wed Sep 1 17:13:48 2010 via web in reply to paul_sagar

126.Blair, p. 214, aligns himself in the tradition of Macmillan’s “Middle Way” & Crosland’s “Future of Socialism”. Sees both as prophetic. Wed Sep 1 17:18:01 2010 via web

127.@donpaskini I’ve got until nine tonight. So, no, I won’t get through it in one go, alas. Wed Sep 1 17:18:20 2010 via web in reply to donpaskini

128.Blair: the problem with Frank Field “thinking the unthinkable” (p.217) was “not so much that his thoughts were unthinkable as unfathomable.” Wed Sep 1 17:20:30 2010 via web

129.Blair seems to refer to himself in the first person plural on p. 220, discussing “Good old Jack Cunningham, whom we had moved from Ag. …” Wed Sep 1 17:24:47 2010 via web

Chapter Eight: Kosovo

130.Blair, p.224: “If you had told me on that bright May morning in 1997 that I wd fight four wars, I wd have been bewildered & horrified.” Wed Sep 1 17:28:09 2010 via web

131.Blair, p. 227: It was Kosovo that “completely changed my own attitude to foreign policy.” Wed Sep 1 17:31:31 2010 via web

132.Why? B/c the international community then sought to “act, but within very tight limits”. “There was a desire to pacify, but not to resolve.” Wed Sep 1 17:33:19 2010 via web

133.Blair was outraged by Serb conduct in Kosovo, but found “in one way, even more outrageous” the view that the UK shouldn’t be involved. Wed Sep 1 17:35:12 2010 via web

134.Blair, p. 229: “Posing & answering a moral Q doesn’t inexorably lead to a military solution, but it establishes a framework that can do so.” Wed Sep 1 17:37:15 2010 via web

135.Blair, p. 231: Clinton was “a brilliant thinker, with a clear and thought-through political philosophy”. Wed Sep 1 17:38:41 2010 via web

136.Re the Clintons, Blair reflects, p.235 “ambition is the awning under which true love shelters, not love which gives shelter to the ambition” Wed Sep 1 17:45:27 2010 via web

137.Blair, p.241, denies briefing against Andrew Smith (“nice guy, never going to be Chancellor”) in 2004, & denies he was planning to sack him. Wed Sep 1 17:50:41 2010 via web

138.Blair reflects on Russia, p. 245: “Hmm, their politics really isn’t like ours at all.” Wed Sep 1 17:53:00 2010 via web

139.Blair thinks he found it difficult to deal w Putin, p.245, bc VP thought his approach to foreign policy “at best odd and at worst dangerous” Wed Sep 1 17:54:26 2010 via web

140.Blair, p. 246: “The tale of Sierra Leone… is a metaphor for what happened to Africa.” Wed Sep 1 17:55:42 2010 via web

141.Blair concedes p.248 that applying the 5 tests from his 1999 Chicago speech to Iraq in retrospect “shows what a finely balanced case it was” Wed Sep 1 17:58:14 2010 via web

142.Blair, p.248: Russia in 1917 “cd have changed through Kerensky and in a step-by-step social democratic advance”, but instead got Bolsheviks. Wed Sep 1 17:59:48 2010 via web

143.Clunky sentence alert! Blair, p. 252: “The Scottish media were a PhD dissertation about chippiness all unto themselves.” Wed Sep 1 18:02:44 2010 via web

Chapter Nine: Forces of Conservatism

144.On the Y2K bug: “David Miliband tried to explain it once, and I honestly didn’t have a clue what he was talking about.” (p. 255) Wed Sep 1 18:05:08 2010 via web

145.Blair on the Dome, p. 256: “That said, it wasn’t dreadful.” Yes, it was. Wed Sep 1 18:06:37 2010 via web

146.But “if it had consisted of a man slapping everyone around the face w a wet fish, we wd have stoutly held it to be a work of genius” (p.257) Wed Sep 1 18:07:53 2010 via web

147.A third of a page of praise for David Frost on pp. 263-4. Wed Sep 1 18:11:23 2010 via web

148.OK. I’m taking another break. Back in a bit for one more stint this evening. Wed Sep 1 18:13:01 2010 via web

149.Right: cat’s been fed; bread ingredients are in the bread machine; a bottle of beer has been opened, & I’m returning to Tony sodding Blair. Wed Sep 1 18:43:42 2010 via web

150.Blair, p. 266: It’s curious that the para that begins “Except on law & order, I am by instinct a liberal” ends with praise for Roy Jenkins. Wed Sep 1 18:46:16 2010 via web

151.Blair uses Marxist jargon-term “praxis” on p. 266! (But the context is him explaining his right-wing views about the role of the state.) Wed Sep 1 18:47:20 2010 via web

152.Adonis, p.266, was “totally decent & a 1st-class intellect, & was not afraid to think w/out ideological constraint. He completely ‘got’ NL.” Wed Sep 1 18:49:12 2010 via web

153.Blair, on Ken Livingstone standing for mayor as an independent against official Labour candidate Dobbo: “I didn’t really blame him”. [p.268] Wed Sep 1 18:52:06 2010 via web

154.@HarpyMarx I’m going out tonight, for good food & drink. So I should be OK. But thanks for your concern! Wed Sep 1 18:54:29 2010 via web in reply to HarpyMarx

155.Blair, p. 272: “I take an essentially middle-class view of”– of absolutely fucking everything? No, just of — “public services”. Wed Sep 1 18:55:49 2010 via web

156.[Cont.] “You can’t understand anything I tried to do to reform them without understanding that.” Wed Sep 1 18:56:11 2010 via web

157.(By a “middle-class view”, Blair means he doesn’t like bad schools or long NHS waiting lists, apparently.) Wed Sep 1 18:57:34 2010 via web

158.Ah! “None of that means ‘w-c’ people want less; but the v fact that that phrase now goes in inverted commas show sth (& not just about me!)” Wed Sep 1 18:58:51 2010 via web

159.Jack Straw “got” Blair’s lauranorder agenda, but “I’m afraid Derry didn’t”, nor did “most lawyers, judges & assorted bigwigs”. (p. 274). Wed Sep 1 19:00:59 2010 via web

160.Blair reports, p. 275, “mild disgust” from his children when he tells them in 1999 that Cherie is pregnant with Leo. Wed Sep 1 19:03:32 2010 via web

161.Blair, p.281: “Around 2.30am Euan insisting on coming into my bed. Alternately, he wd go into a mournful tirade of apology & then throw up.” Wed Sep 1 19:08:42 2010 via web

Chapter Ten: Managing Crises

162.Blair, p. 288: Thatcher had been right to “liberate enterprise & industry”, was was too Eurosceptic & “indulged” an out-of-date view of UK. Wed Sep 1 19:13:35 2010 via web

163.Blair doesn’t say that something is funny, he says (p. 290) that there had been “a proper quotient of amusement”. Wed Sep 1 19:15:17 2010 via web

164.Blair was angry at the media coverage of the fuel protesters, p.294, because “I felt that a Tory government would not be treated like this.” Wed Sep 1 19:18:23 2010 via web

165.I am not sure why Blair drops into French on p. 299 to say “tout le temps” when “all the time” would have worked just as well. Wed Sep 1 19:22:25 2010 via web

166.Blair reflects, p.301, on how hardly anyone actually supported his project, which made him feel-oddly-that he had “to drive & keep driving”. Wed Sep 1 19:26:07 2010 via web

167.Blair on attending Donald Dewar’s funeral, p. 304: “I felt strangely like an outsider”. Wed Sep 1 19:28:14 2010 via web

168.Chirac praises food at a pub in Sedgefield as “superb”, p. 304, “but with a little too much smirking from his entourage for my liking”. Wed Sep 1 19:29:33 2010 via web

169.The ban on fox-hunting and Freedom of Information Act were “for what purpose, God only knows” (p. 304). Wed Sep 1 19:30:11 2010 via web

170.@jonewilson Not really: the 1997 manifesto was far too moderate; reform needed to come from the “centre”; lots more private sector norms. Wed Sep 1 19:31:07 2010 via web in reply to jonewilson

171.Bush says to Blair, on fox-hunting, p. 306, “Whatever did you do that for, man”, “as ever getting right to the nub.” Wed Sep 1 19:33:27 2010 via web

172.Blair turns against banning fox-hunting b/c it “was integral to a way of life”, “a tradition, embedded by history & profound continuity”. Wed Sep 1 19:35:29 2010 via web

173.@tominexile You know, if I thought I’d only get to p. 306 by 7:30, I might not have started this… Wed Sep 1 19:36:04 2010 via web in reply to tominexile

174.Blair is persuaded by “a woman who was mistress of a hunt near Oxford” he meets on holiday with the Strozzis on Elba (as you do). [p. 306] Wed Sep 1 19:38:10 2010 via web

175.@RichardA Jean Chrétien enters the narrative on p. 309! (“A very wise, wily & experienced old bird”) Wed Sep 1 19:41:30 2010 via web

176.@martinmcivor Thanks! Moral support from other Twitterers has been invaluable. Wed Sep 1 19:43:15 2010 via web in reply to martinmcivor

177.@kjhealy Yes, I’m sorry about this. It is a bit obsessive-compulsive of me, I know. Don’t worry: I’m only going for one more hour tonight. Wed Sep 1 19:45:06 2010 via web in reply to kjhealy

Chapter Eleven: A Mandate for New Labour

178.Blair expresses satisfaction, more or less, with the 2001 manifesto, p. 314 (he barely has had a good word to say about the 1997 manifesto). Wed Sep 1 19:45:45 2010 via web

179.Blair reflects on Thatcherism, p. 317: “Competition drove up standards, high taxes were a disincentive. Anything else ignored human nature.” Wed Sep 1 19:48:28 2010 via web

180.@kjhealy I’m so sorry. Wed Sep 1 19:58:51 2010 via web in reply to kjhealy

181.@daveweeden Or even whatever it was that they serve at Balmoral! Wed Sep 1 19:59:05 2010 via web in reply to daveweeden

182.Blair says–oddly–on p. 335 that “no one bought the package”. “Except the people, of course. “They were the New Labour believers”. Wed Sep 1 20:03:00 2010 via web

183.Blair complains, p. 336, that no one really listened to him, as he “made the argument” for “radical change”. Wed Sep 1 20:05:00 2010 via web

184.Blair, incredibly, on the 2001 election campaign: “It was an election fought in prose, when I was trying to make poetry out of it.” [p. 336] Wed Sep 1 20:06:01 2010 via web

185.@leloveluck Haven’t got there yet! Wed Sep 1 20:06:45 2010 via web in reply to leloveluck

186.@paul_sagar That’s the one, discussed on pp. 314-5. Wed Sep 1 20:08:39 2010 via web in reply to paul_sagar

Chapter Twelve: 9/11: ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’

187.On 9/11: “The notion of a world, not just America, confronted by a deadly evil that had indeed declared war on us all… Wed Sep 1 20:13:42 2010 via web

188.[Cont.] “… was not then dismissed as the language of the periphery of public sentiment. It was *the* sentiment.” Wed Sep 1 20:14:18 2010 via web

189.Blair, pp. 342-3: “It was, in a very real sense, a declaration of war. It was calculated to draw us into conflict.” Wed Sep 1 20:16:07 2010 via web

190.Pre-9/11 terrorism, Blair calls, p. 343, “the price that America paid for being America”. Wed Sep 1 20:18:58 2010 via web

191.@Flying_Rodent I know. It’s hilarious. Wed Sep 1 20:20:42 2010 via web in reply to Flying_Rodent

192.Blair was wrong to think in 2001, p. 347, that “this act was perpetrated by a small group of fanatics wholly unrepresentative of Islam”. Wed Sep 1 20:23:27 2010 via web

193.People who ask “What went wrong?” are, Blair thinks, ignoring “the possibility that it is not so much a case of ‘what went wrong’… Wed Sep 1 20:26:20 2010 via web

194.”… as that the nature of the struggle means that it will turn and twist and evolve over a long time.” [p. 349] Wed Sep 1 20:26:51 2010 via web

195.@sarahditum No, he doesn’t go that far. Top of p. 348 he explains what he’s on about. Islam is “one spectrum, not several”. Wed Sep 1 20:31:36 2010 via web in reply to sarahditum

196.Blair reports his historically illiterate remarks about how America “stood by” GB during the Blitz, p.354, w/out noting their illiteracy. Wed Sep 1 20:34:33 2010 via web

197.Although Blair didn’t know much about Afghanistan in Sept 2001, p. 355, he knew it “always seemed… to swallow & spit out the invaders.” Wed Sep 1 20:37:45 2010 via web

198.Blair claims, p. 356, that the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was “a war to punish”, as well as a war “to liberate”. Wed Sep 1 20:40:25 2010 via web

199.Blair, p. 363, now refers to Berlusconi by his first name: “Both George & Silvio had used the word ‘crusade’…” Wed Sep 1 20:45:42 2010 via web

200.OK–that’s twelve chapters down. Not sure if I have the stomach (or the time) to do the 2d half of the book. Thanks for all yr patience… Wed Sep 1 20:48:59 2010 via web

201…. supportive messages during the day, RTs & new followers; and apologies to those of you who didn’t want to be getting all this Blair. Wed Sep 1 20:49:38 2010 via web

202.@RichardA @jonewilson Yes! It’s lovely, and now I’m going to plug it in and switch it on! Wed Sep 1 20:51:35 2010 via web in reply to RichardA

203.@sarahditum It’s his way of denying a sharp difference between “extremists” & “moderates”. Rather, they are both positions on a “spectrum”. Wed Sep 1 20:52:55 2010 via web in reply to sarahditum

204.@hal_berstram Yes, it goes on and on and on. Wed Sep 1 20:53:19 2010 via web in reply to hal_berstram

205.@jonewilson Or, at least, 201 Twitter followers (inexplicably, the number has steadily *risen* during the day). Wed Sep 1 20:53:42 2010 via web in reply to jonewilson

206.@DAaronovitch Blair’s reference is specifically to “America” and “the American people”, not to FDR. Thu Sep 2 09:18:14 2010 via web in reply to DAaronovitch

207.@katforrester It was a fridge-freezer unit! But I will do some more today, I think. Thu Sep 2 09:18:56 2010 via web in reply to katforrester

208.OK–more Blair-book-tweets coming up. Apologies for those who are fed up with them (just hit “unfollow”). Thu Sep 2 09:20:11 2010 via web

Chapter Thirteen: Iraq: Countdown to War

209.Blair felt sick, p.371, when Chilcot asked if he had regrets. “This wasn’t a Q being asked or answered in the quiet reflections of the soul” Thu Sep 2 09:21:30 2010 via web

210.He was angry, p. 371, b/c an inquiry that “was supposed to be about lessons learned” had “inevitably turned into a trial of judgement”. Thu Sep 2 09:22:33 2010 via web

211.Blair, p.372, on “anguish”, “sadness that goes beyond conventional description”, being “desperately sorry”… Thu Sep 2 09:24:39 2010 via web

212.[Cont.] … and finding “words of condolence and sympathy to be entirely inadequate…” (still, p. 372). Thu Sep 2 09:25:16 2010 via web

213.Blair, p. 372: “I can say that never did I guess the nightmare that unfolded, and that too is part of the responsibility.” Thu Sep 2 09:25:58 2010 via web

214.[Cont.] “But the notion of ‘responsibility’ indicates not a burden to be discharged but a burden that continues.” Thu Sep 2 09:26:45 2010 via web

215.Blair broods, p.373, every day, on the victims of his wars, & “uses that reflection to recommit to a sense of purpose in the bigger affair.” Thu Sep 2 09:27:54 2010 via web

216.Blair, p. 373, “can only hope to redeem something from the tragedy of death, in the actions of a life, my life, that continues still.” (Wow) Thu Sep 2 09:28:56 2010 via web

217.Blair, p. 373: “The trouble with debating Iraq is that, by and large, people have stopped listening to each other.” Thu Sep 2 09:29:33 2010 via web

218.Blair, p.373, thinks that “the people” have an “innate appreciation of the complexity of decision-making” denied to pundits & politics-types Thu Sep 2 09:31:55 2010 via web

219.People who are still “reasonably open to persuasion” over Iraq, p. 373, think differently from politicians, & are “at points more profound”. Thu Sep 2 09:33:39 2010 via web

220.Blair understands “entirely” why those who don’t support him think the decision to invade Iraq is the “final proof” of his “villainy”, p.374 Thu Sep 2 09:35:16 2010 via web

221.Blair, p. 374: “We thought there was an active WMD programme and there wasn’t.” Thu Sep 2 09:36:01 2010 via web

222.The other factor driving the “conventional wisdom” is that “balance is an alien concept in today’s world”, p. 374. Thu Sep 2 09:36:55 2010 via web

223.Blair doesn’t aim to persuade you “of the rightness of the cause”, just “asks you to reflect as to whether I may have been right”, p. 374. Thu Sep 2 09:38:35 2010 via web

224.Blair, p.375: “From the mid-1990s onwards, Saddam’s policy became to remove sanctions at all costs. The active WMD programme was shut down”. Thu Sep 2 09:41:32 2010 via web

225.But ISG “discovered that this was merely a tactical decision to put such a programme into abeyance, not a strategic decision to abandon it.” Thu Sep 2 09:42:31 2010 via web

226.Blair, p.377: There were no WMDs, but “the true facts do provide the clearest possible basis to assess that he was indeed a threat”. Thu Sep 2 09:44:34 2010 via web

227.Blair emphasises again, p. 378, that he isn’t trying “to persuade that we were right to remove him”, just to make critics “pause & reflect”. Thu Sep 2 09:46:42 2010 via web

228.Blair, p. 378: The “moral case against what we did… in essence, comes down to the chaos & death that followed Saddam’s removal.” Thu Sep 2 09:47:29 2010 via web

229.”There is no moral judgement that can or shd be based on maths: here’s the number Saddam killed, here’s the number that died after his fall” Thu Sep 2 09:48:32 2010 via web

230.That wd be “necessarily invidious” [Blair, p. 378]. Thu Sep 2 09:48:54 2010 via web

231.But Blair then turns to tot up the numbers, “on the best evidence available”, and lists death tolls under Saddam’s regime, pp. 378-9. Thu Sep 2 09:50:35 2010 via web

232.Blair, pp. 379-80, turns to the 2004 Lancet report: its methodology, however, was “extensively challenged”. Thu Sep 2 09:52:50 2010 via web

233.And criticisms of the Lancet report “got practically zero publicity”. Blair, p. 380. Thu Sep 2 09:53:16 2010 via web

234.By contrast, the International Red Cross says the Iraq Body Count survey is “the most accurate estimate”, of 100-112K. Thu Sep 2 09:54:04 2010 via web

235.Blair, p. 380: “That is 112,000 too many, but a far cry from half a million.” And most were killed by al-Qaeda & Iran-backed militia. Thu Sep 2 09:55:38 2010 via web

236.Blair, p. 380: “Terrible though the aftermath was, the reality of Saddam & his sons in charge of Iraq wd at least arguably be much worse.” Thu Sep 2 09:56:37 2010 via web

237.Blair’s critics ought to “accept there wd have been a reality if he & his sons were still in charge of Iraq”, p. 380. Thu Sep 2 09:58:22 2010 via web

238.Blair, pp. 381-2, recounts history of UN inspections, etc. but not, he insists again, “as justification for the 2003 conflict.” Thu Sep 2 10:00:17 2010 via web

239.Blair, p. 382: the notion that Bush “effectively stuck a pin in the atlas & decided, inexplicably, to go to Iraq” is “absurd”. Thu Sep 2 10:01:27 2010 via web

240.Blair, p, 383: Was it “all about oil”? “In truth, if oil had been our concern, we could have cut a deal with Saddam in a heartbeat”. Thu Sep 2 10:02:10 2010 via web

241.Blair, p, 383: “GDP per head in Iraq in 2010 is three times that of Iraq in 2003” because money from oil is rebuilding Iraqi infrastructure. Thu Sep 2 10:03:45 2010 via web

242.On the “disintegrating” framework of the sanctions regime, p.383f. Cites K. Pollack, p.384: preconditions for effective sanctions missing. Thu Sep 2 10:06:06 2010 via web

243.Blair denies there was a “link to Al-Qaeda”, then explains how al-Zarqawi had been meeting senior Iraqis in 2002 & “established a presence”. Thu Sep 2 10:07:54 2010 via web

244.Discusses various WMD proliferation anxieties after 9/11, pp, 384-5. Thu Sep 2 10:09:37 2010 via web

245.Blair, p. 386: After 9/11, “I as a leader contemplated the future potential for risk”, worrying about terrorists acquiring WMD. Thu Sep 2 10:11:08 2010 via web

246.Blair, p. 386, “thought I cd see something deeper”, that an “alliance” was “taking shape between rogue states & terrorist groups”. Thu Sep 2 10:12:32 2010 via web

247.Blair, p. 387: the Middle East “was urgently in need of modernisation”. Thu Sep 2 10:13:14 2010 via web

248.Blair, p. 387: Although Arab leaders wanted peace with Israel, “Israel was hated” by the “educated commentariat” and “at street level”. Thu Sep 2 10:15:04 2010 via web

249.Blair, p. 388: “I looked at the region & felt the chances of a steady evolution were not good”. Thu Sep 2 10:15:34 2010 via web

250.Blair, p, 388: Neoconservatism “on analysis”, is “a view that evolution was impossible, that the region needed a fundamental reordering.” Thu Sep 2 10:17:26 2010 via web

251.Blair, p. 388: Use of the term ‘neocon’, however, “caused obvious problems for those from the progressive wing of politics.” Thu Sep 2 10:20:03 2010 via web

252.Blair, p. 388: “I had reached the same conclusion from a progressive standpoint as George had from a conservative one.” Thu Sep 2 10:21:33 2010 via web

253.OK–taking a break. Thu Sep 2 10:21:42 2010 via web

254.Ah–my ability to tweet more of Blair’s book from the café is rather thwarted by the fact that I forgot to bring it with me! Thu Sep 2 10:53:36 2010 via web

255.(Blair, p. 372, seems to me to be describing in detail the symptoms of intense psychological guilt, but without using that particular word.) Thu Sep 2 10:54:52 2010 via web

256.@alanbeattie Thanks–though no more until this afternoon (UK time) at the earliest. Thu Sep 2 10:56:22 2010 via web in reply to alanbeattie

257.@DAaronovitch I’m glad you’re enjoying them! Thu Sep 2 10:56:35 2010 via web in reply to DAaronovitch

258.@cjkavanagh Yes, just a little. Thu Sep 2 11:20:49 2010 via web in reply to cjkavanagh

259.Where were we? Ah, yes, p. 388, and Bush’s 2002 SOTU address… Thu Sep 2 16:07:12 2010 via web

260.Blair, p. 389: “If there was a people in need of liberation, it was surely the Iraqi people.” But, “It didn’t turn out like that.” Thu Sep 2 16:07:59 2010 via web

261.Why not? Because it was “a visceral life-or-death battle between modernisers & reactionaries”. And about “the whole future of Islam” (p.389) Thu Sep 2 16:09:01 2010 via web

262.Blair, p. 390: Terror + “the steady build-up of Iranian influence among extremist Shia groups” = “devastating force”. Thu Sep 2 16:10:29 2010 via web

263.Al-Q & Iran “knew what was at stake in Iraq”, & “as our will weakened theirs grew”. Maliki + the Bush surge shifted “the balance of will”. Thu Sep 2 16:11:48 2010 via web

264.Blair, pp. 390-1: One “important facet of the modern Western psyche” is that “we want our battles short and successful.” Thu Sep 2 16:13:52 2010 via web

265.Blait, p. 391: The soliders didn’t “lose heart”, but the public “tires long before, emotionally exhausted & psychologically unnerved”. Thu Sep 2 59416:14:54 2010 via web

266.Blair, p.391: This produces “a fatal sagging of the will” — that was only restored by the surge & Iraqi “determination to avoid the abyss”. Thu Sep 2 16:15:59 2010 via web

267.Blair, p. 391: “History, as ever, will be the final judge.” “I don’t seek agreement.” Thu Sep 2 16:16:53 2010 via web

268.[Cont.] “I seek merely an understanding that the arguments for & against were & remain more balanced than conventional wisdom suggests.” Thu Sep 2 16:17:31 2010 via web

269.Blair, p. 391: “This was not Suez… It was not Vietnam.” Thu Sep 2 16:18:40 2010 via web

270.Blair, pp.391-2: “Proliferators & purveyors of WMD material” in Libya, Iran & North Korea “hastily drew in their horns”. Thu Sep 2 16:19:40 2010 via web

271.Blair, p.393: At Camp David in Feb 2001, Cherie got on better with Laura than Tony did with George. “We got on well, but fairly gingerly.” Thu Sep 2 16:21:20 2010 via web

272.Blair, p. 393: “George had a great sense of humour” but “the fact remained that he was conservative & I was progressive.” Thu Sep 2 16:22:01 2010 via web

273.Blair, p. 393: George Bush was “very smart”. All US Presidents are. All British PMs have to be clever, too, or they wdn’t survive PMQs. Thu Sep 2 16:23:31 2010 via web

274.Blair, p. 394: “George had immense simplicity in how he saw the world.” Thu Sep 2 16:24:07 2010 via web

275.Blair, p. 395: “I probably thought more about Iraq than he did” in the months after the February 2001 visit to Camp David. Thu Sep 2 16:26:03 2010 via web

276.Blair, p. 396: Pre-9/11, Saddam “had not been perceived” as a threat. After, “the American attitude shifted”, “the world had to be remade”. Thu Sep 2 16:27:57 2010 via web

277.Blair, p. 396: Saddam was not very good at complying with UN resolutions. A July 2002 table to this effect is printed on pp. 397-8. Thu Sep 2 16:28:48 2010 via web

278.Blair, p.399: “It is assumed that the US took a decision to remove Saddam by military force in late 2001, & from then on war was inevitable” Thu Sep 2 16:30:06 2010 via web

279.[Cont.] “It wasn’t. And it’s just not how politics works. Or human beings. And in the end human beings take political decisions.” Thu Sep 2 16:30:30 2010 via web

280.[Cont.] “What had happened, as I say, was that the US attitude to risk had been turned upside down. Iraq was not definitely on the agenda.” Thu Sep 2 16:30:57 2010 via web

281.Blair, p. 399: Towards the end of 2002, “it all became a lot clearer” to Bush. Thu Sep 2 16:31:59 2010 via web

282.Blair visits Crawford, TX, April 2002, p. 399. “It is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.” Thu Sep 2 16:32:31 2010 via web

283.Blair, p.400: At this time, he had decided removing Saddam wd benefit the world & Iraqis, “though I knew regime change cd not be our policy” Thu Sep 2 16:33:35 2010 via web

284.Blair, p. 400, claims to have invented (“enunciated”) the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) doctrine in his 1999 Chicago speech. Thu Sep 2 16:37:40 2010 via web

285.Blair, p. 400: Meyer says I “pledged in blood” at Crawford to support Bush. He wasn’t even in the same building. I emphasised the UN route. Thu Sep 2 16:40:03 2010 via web

286.Blair, p. 400: “But there it is–the myth, once given birth to, becomes the reality.” Thu Sep 2 16:40:28 2010 via web

287.At Crawford, pp. 401-2, I emphasised the importance of Israel/Palestine to Bush. Thu Sep 2 16:41:22 2010 via web

288.Blair, p. 403: Domestic politics for much of 2002 was “highly uncomfortable” b/c people thought war was inevitable when it wasn’t. Thu Sep 2 16:42:40 2010 via web

289.Geoff Hoon enters the narrative for the first time on p. 405. He “described the options”. Thu Sep 2 16:46:15 2010 via web

290.Blair, p. 405: We decided to put together the dossier of WMD evidence. “Many times afterwards, I regretted this decision.” Thu Sep 2 16:47:11 2010 via web

291.Blair, p. 406: We only did it, though “because we cd see no way of refusing it, given the clamour for it.” Thu Sep 2 16:47:36 2010 via web

292.Blair, p. 406: The 45-minute claim was basically ignored at the time: of 45,000 Parliamentary Questions, 9/02-5/03, only two asked about it. Thu Sep 2 16:49:15 2010 via web

293.Blair, p. 406: The JIC wrote the dossier. “Neither myself nor Alastair wrote any of it”. Well, “I wrote the foreword”. Thu Sep 2 16:50:20 2010 via web

294.Blair, p. 407: We really did believe Saddam had an active WMD programme. “There was no intent to deceive.” Thu Sep 2 16:51:17 2010 via web

295.Blair, p. 407: By September 2001, “George and I had a really good personal chemistry”. Blair pushes for “the UN route”. Thu Sep 2 16:52:08 2010 via web

296.Blair, p. 408: Cheney “is the object of so much conspiracy theory that it’s virtually impossible to have a rational discussion about him.” Thu Sep 2 16:53:17 2010 via web

297.[Cont.] “My take on him was different from that of most people”. This is b/c it was worth taking seriously his idea that the US was at war. Thu Sep 2 16:54:07 2010 via web

298.Blair, p. 409: But Cheney’s “manner of doing it was incomplete”. We needed to win the war “at the level of ideas”, by “engaging” Muslims. Thu Sep 2 16:56:14 2010 via web

299.Blair, p. 410: Even people who didn’t like me or agree with me “still admired the fact I counted, was a big player, was a world… leader.” Thu Sep 2 16:58:08 2010 via web

300.Blair, p. 410: “Brits would want to know that in Toulouse people would recognise me.” (What planet is he on?) Thu Sep 2 16:58:43 2010 via web

301.Blair, p.410: With reference to Wilson, Vietnam & 1970, Blair disagrees with Robin Cook about whether supporting US wars is good for votes. Thu Sep 2 17:05:06 2010 via web

302.@kjhealy I know. Baffling. Thu Sep 2 17:05:33 2010 via web in reply to kjhealy

303.Blair, p. 411: in late 2002, “options were still being canvassed” (but no mention of Hoon this time). Thu Sep 2 17:06:37 2010 via web

304.Blair, p. 412: “I was about as isolated as it is possible to be in politics” around the New Year. But his instinct was to support the US. Thu Sep 2 17:08:01 2010 via web

305.Blair, p. 413: Would my decision have been different if I’d known there were no WMDs, & there would be so much death? Thu Sep 2 17:12:36 2010 via web

306.[Cont.] “Then I think of leaving him there in power. I remember stories some of the Iraqis have told me since of what life was really like.” Thu Sep 2 17:13:26 2010 via web

307.Blair, p. 414: In February 2003, a million people marched in London. “There had never been a larger demonstration.” Thu Sep 2 17:14:12 2010 via web

Chapter Fourteen: Resolution

308.Blair, pp. 415-420: Lots of quotation from Hans Blix. “I am sorry to quote at such length, but it is critical to understand the context.” Thu Sep 2 17:15:51 2010 via web

309.Blair, p. 421, discusses Peter Goldsmith. It is a myth that he “really thought” that the war was “plainly illegal”. Thu Sep 2 17:16:54 2010 via web

310.Blair, p. 422: “There was, naturally, a spirited debate inside the legal fraternity of the Foreign Office and AG’s department.” Thu Sep 2 17:18:27 2010 via web

311.Blair, p. 424: “At home in Downing St, I was a bit like a zombie.” Thu Sep 2 17:19:22 2010 via web

312.Blair, pp. 425-6, quotes at length from the speech he gave in Glasgow on the day of the anti-war march. Thu Sep 2 17:20:03 2010 via web

313.Blair, p.428: Aznar tells Blair only 4% of Spaniards approve of military action. Blair tells Aznar c. 4% think Elvis is still alive. Thu Sep 2 17:21:28 2010 via web

314.Blair, p.428: “Cabinet meetings were regular & on the whole supportive. Robin was clearly manoeuvring for the exit” though w/out ill intent. Thu Sep 2 17:22:26 2010 via web

315.Blair, p.428: “Clare was being her usual self.” Thu Sep 2 17:22:48 2010 via web

316.Blair, p. 429: IDS “gave solid backing and I was really grateful for it.” “He wasn’t a fair-weather friend”, unlike “many of his colleagues” Thu Sep 2 17:23:33 2010 via web

317.Blair, p. 429: Andrew Turnbull, Cabinet Secretary, begins looking at the Labour Party rulebook to work out what happens if Blair falls. Thu Sep 2 17:24:23 2010 via web

318.Blair, p. 430, on trying to get the 2d resolution through the UNSC. But, p. 431, “the French position had, if anything, got harder”. Thu Sep 2 17:25:40 2010 via web

319.Blair, p.432: Goldsmith goes to DC, talks to Administration lawyers & decides the war is legal after all. He is a man of “genuine integrity” Thu Sep 2 17:30:25 2010 via web

320.Blair, pp. 432-3: Rumsfeld, “trying to be helpful” “put the cat among the pigeons” by suggesting maybe the UK shdn’t take part in the war. Thu Sep 2 17:31:33 2010 via web

321.Blair, p. 433: Cook decides to resign in the absence of a 2d resolution. “I always thought it a bit odd in terms of moral acceptability”. Thu Sep 2 17:33:15 2010 via web

322.Blair, p.434: Bush was “completely calm”: “I love my country & these people threaten it by their hatred for us.” Thu Sep 2 17:34:12 2010 via web

323.Blair, p. 434: “It is easy to mock the simplicity of the George Bush view of the world. Some of it does appear very Manichaean.” Thu Sep 2 17:34:40 2010 via web

324.Blair, p.434: America has “essential goodness as a nation”, a phrase which “sounds odd”. But they & we have rights & freedoms that are good. Thu Sep 2 17:36:53 2010 via web

325.China is on course to develop politically. But other countries are not. “You see instead power corruptly wielded…a future denied.” (p.434) Thu Sep 2 17:37:59 2010 via web

326.Blair, p. 435, leaves Azores, calm, because altho people were going to die, “now my fate was sealed…I was doing what I thought was right”. Thu Sep 2 17:39:49 2010 via web

327.Blair, p.436, prepares his speech for the 18 March debate in the Commons, & is careful not to conflate Saddam & Hitler. But mentions Munich. Thu Sep 2 17:41:26 2010 via web

328.Blair, pp. 437-9, quotes at length from his House of Commons speech. He wins the vote, 412 to 149. Thu Sep 2 17:42:12 2010 via web

329.@ThomasKealy Hi, about 250. Not sure how many I can get through this evening. Feel free to “unfollow” if it’s all too much! Thu Sep 2 17:43:01 2010 via web in reply to ThomasKealy

Chapter Fifteen: Iraq: the Aftermath

330.Blair, p.441: “That the planning for the aftermath was inadequate is well documented.” But “the military campaign” was a “brilliant success” Thu Sep 2 17:45:14 2010 via web

331.Blair, p. 441: But it’s hard to disentangle what was avoidable error, what were unpredicted & unpredictable challenges, etc., even now. Thu Sep 2 17:46:07 2010 via web

332.Blair, pp.441-2: “We in the British sector cd have done better” but “frankly” in our bit of Iraq, “the plans were adequate”. Thu Sep 2 17:47:53 2010 via web

333.[Cont.] And even if they weren’t, “in any event” they “were quickly ramped up and any inadequacy addressed”. Thu Sep 2 17:48:31 2010 via web

334.Blair, p.442: We worried about food supplies (which held up) use of WMDs (which didn’t exist) & burning oil-fields (which UK troops stopped) Thu Sep 2 17:50:29 2010 via web

335.Blair, pp.443-4, quotes at length from his statement to the Commons, 24 March. Thu Sep 2 17:51:10 2010 via web

336.Blair, p. 445, tries to persuade Bush to bring in the UN after the fighting was over. The Americans, except Powell, thought otherwise. Thu Sep 2 17:52:10 2010 via web

337.Blair, p. 446: “But in the end we got agreement ‘in principle’ that the UN shd come in” from George & Dick. Thu Sep 2 17:52:56 2010 via web

338.Blair, p. 447: Some civil service grandees say not enough about Iraq was discussed in full Cabinet. “It really is nonsense.” Thu Sep 2 17:53:58 2010 via web

339.Blair, pp. 447-8, quotes from his 14 April statement to the HoC, with “the south of Iraq now largely under British control”. Thu Sep 2 17:54:56 2010 via web

340.Blair, p. 449: “What went on was on the security side.” Reconstruction “can’t happen in a violent environment”. See Iraq, Afghan., Gaza, WB. Thu Sep 2 17:57:53 2010 via web

341.Blair, p. 449: “I doubt any change wd have prevented the al-Q and Iran factors emerging” which almost tipped Iraq into the abyss. Thu Sep 2 17:58:47 2010 via web

342.Blair, p. 450: On the relatively peaceful start to the Occupation. He makes a vainglorious remark in an interview with The Sun newspaper. Thu Sep 2 18:00:06 2010 via web

343.Blair, pp.450-1, goes to Russia where Putin attacks him. Blair replies that “I had actually supported suppression of terrorism” in Chechnya. Thu Sep 2 18:01:44 2010 via web

344.Blair, p. 451, on “actively searching for WMD”, which was a “pressing” and “embarrassing issue for us”. Thu Sep 2 18:02:49 2010 via web

345.Blair, pp.451-2: “As the weeks wore on, I became more and more agitated.” Rumsfeld “somewhat unhelpfully” suggests we might never find them. Thu Sep 2 18:03:42 2010 via web

346.Blair, p. 452, visiting Basra, cd see “we were in danger of having won the war, then losing the peace”. So I sent “a strong note to George.” Thu Sep 2 18:06:13 2010 via web

347.Blair, p.453, says that his attention was now diverted bc Andrew Gilligan was focusing on “the forty-five minutes claim” in the JIC dossier. Thu Sep 2 18:07:10 2010 via web

348.Blair, p. 453: David Kelly enters the story. Gilligan’s key claim quoted. “It wd be tedious to go back over every fact, every argument”, etc Thu Sep 2 18:08:05 2010 via web

349.Blair, p. 453: “Probably my own integrity never recovered from it. Quite a consequence, really… A difficult situation became an ugly one.” Thu Sep 2 18:08:47 2010 via web

350.Blair, p. 454: Gilligan’s claim was “a global firecracker that set blazing a whole series of conspiracy theories”. Thu Sep 2 18:10:09 2010 via web

351.Blair, p.454-5: “Look, if political leaders had to chase up every false story about their motives, they wd be full-time press fact checkers” Thu Sep 2 18:11:05 2010 via web

352.Blair, p. 455: Greg Dyke was a friend, but he was anti-war and “cdn’t really see that as DG of the BBC he had to remain neutral.” Thu Sep 2 18:13:07 2010 via web

353.Blair, p. 455: Kelly comes forward, kills himself. Blair doesn’t know why. It was “sad, unnecessary and terrible.” Thu Sep 2 18:14:00 2010 via web

354.Blair, pp.457-8, quotes at length from his speech to the US Congress, “one of the most important and, in my judgement, best speeches I made” Thu Sep 2 18:15:02 2010 via web

355.Blair, p. 458: “The reception was ecstatic. They got up and applauded throughout, a total of thirty-five times.” Thu Sep 2 18:15:32 2010 via web

356.Blair, p.458: “In later times, congressmen and senators have frequently mentioned it to me.” But actually v few people agreed with all of it Thu Sep 2 18:18:04 2010 via web

357.Blair, p. 459: Kelly dies, & Falconer “agreed to find a judge” for an inquiry, “utterly impeccable, impartial”, not New Labour. It’s Hutton. Thu Sep 2 18:19:56 2010 via web

358.Blair, p.460, recommends that we read Hutton’s report. And, on p.461, “What the judge found was all he could find, really, on the evidence.” Thu Sep 2 18:21:57 2010 via web

359.Blair, pp.461-2, says he had agreed w Gavyn Davis that they wdn’t call for heads to roll if Hutton found for Blair, but Campbell did anyway. Thu Sep 2 18:24:52 2010 via web

360.Blair, p. 465: “Freezing the frame for a moment at July 2003 is absolutely of the essence in understanding what then happened” in Iraq. Thu Sep 2 18:27:19 2010 via web

361.Blair, pp. 465-6: after that, terrorists start blowing a lot of things & people up, including the UN HQ in Baghdad in August. Thu Sep 2 18:29:08 2010 via web

362.Blair, p. 456: The UN should have “rallied international support” and stayed in Baghdad. Instead it “immediately withdrew its staff”. Thu Sep 2 18:30:34 2010 via web

363.Blair, p. 467: on the pics from Abu Ghraib, “no doubt they were exceptional incidents, and the offenders were prosecuted.” Thu Sep 2 18:31:43 2010 via web

364.Blair, p.467: “It was so monstrously unfair that these isolated acts of misconduct completely overwhelmed the wonderful work” we were doing. Thu Sep 2 18:32:28 2010 via web

365.Blair, p. 467: “I don’t think there was ever a single protest anywhere outside Iraq about the suicide attacks”. Thu Sep 2 18:33:26 2010 via web

366.Blair, p.467: We “failed to convey” that fighting Al-Q & “militant Islam” in Iraq was not “a diversion from the real battle” but part of it. Thu Sep 2 18:34:21 2010 via web

367.Blair, p.468: in 2004, “the truth was that Iraq was going forward”. Shia forces inside Iraq & Iran, however, didn’t like political progress. Thu Sep 2 18:36:51 2010 via web

368.Blair, p. 469: But in 2004, “gradually at first, Basra became increasingly unstable.” Really sophisticated IEDs get used against UK troops. Thu Sep 2 18:37:52 2010 via web

369.Blair, p.469: “Certainly Iran was behind the training & arming of the militia.” Kimberly Kagan’s bk “The Surge” documents this kind of thing Thu Sep 2 18:38:59 2010 via web

370.Blair, p. 470: Army officers increasingly conclude in late 2006 that the UK presence in Basra is “a provocation” rather than “a support”. Thu Sep 2 18:40:10 2010 via web

371.Blair, p.470: “I confess I was always very doubtful about this.” Dannant gives his interview to the Mail while Blair deals w Norn Iron pols. Thu Sep 2 18:42:04 2010 via web

372.Blair, p. 470: Martin McGuinness & Gerry Adams tell hm that the IRA would never have one of their generals behaving like this. Thu Sep 2 18:42:43 2010 via web

373.Blair, p. 471: “The US Army performed absolutely magnificently; they were tough, dedicated and with raw & rare courage.” Thu Sep 2 18:44:55 2010 via web

374.Blair, p. 472: “By mid-2006, however, it was clear that the Iraq campaign was not succeeding.” A stalemate. The coalition got blamed. Thu Sep 2 18:46:12 2010 via web

375.Blair, p. 472: “The surge began in late 2007. It worked. There were many other factors: one was the Sunni outreach…” Thu Sep 2 18:46:48 2010 via web

376.Blair, pp.472-4: Cd the deaths have been prevented? Was it worth it? Maybe if de-Baathification & abolition of army had been different… Thu Sep 2 18:54:34 2010 via web

377.[Cont.] … then some of the Sunni insurgency might have been averted. But it’s difficult. Answer to the “was it worth it?” Q not clear. Thu Sep 2 18:55:22 2010 via web

378.Blair, pp. 474-5: “What lessons wd I draw?” (1) Assume the worst. (2) Build indigenous local capacity on security asap. Thu Sep 2 18:55:36 2010 via web

379.Blair, p. 477. We did our best: “the full array of experts were consulted”, & “there were Iraqi exiles who added their knowledge.” Thu Sep 2 18:57:26 2010 via web

380.Blair, wrapping up, p. 478, blames Al-Q & Iran, again, for “very nearly wrecking the prospects for Iraq.” They are wicked & vicious. Thu Sep 2 19:10:47 2010 via web

381.Blair, p. 478, then offers a Harry’s Place conclusion: “When was there a single protest in any Western nation about such evil? …” Thu Sep 2 19:11:55 2010 via web

382.[Cont.] “…Where was the moral indignation? Where were the Iraqis’ Muslim brothers & sisters at their hour of need? Who came to their aid?” Thu Sep 2 19:12:45 2010 via web

383.[Cont.] “Where was the focus of criticism? On the forces of the US & the UK who were trying to stop the carnage; not on those conducting it” Thu Sep 2 19:13:40 2010 via web

384.Blair, p. 479: “Shd we still have done it?” Quotes Zhou Enlai. “All I know is I did what I thought was right.” Thu Sep 2 19:14:53 2010 via web

385.Blair, p. 479: And he has a letter from an Iraqi who “begged me to act” and was murdered in post-Saddam Iraq. “What wd she say to me now?” Thu Sep 2 19:15:49 2010 via web

Chapter Sixteen: Domestic Reform

386.Blair, p. 480: During this time “the domestic agenda moved forward most radically & most satisfactorily.” Thu Sep 2 19:19:42 2010 via web

387.Blair, p, 481: the debate on tuition fees shows how hard it is to make change in the modern world, “and almost led to my resignation”. Thu Sep 2 19:21:00 2010 via web

388.Blair, p.482: no top-up fees was in 2001 manifesto “against my better judgement”. But then “the challenge for our universities became clear” Thu Sep 2 19:22:43 2010 via web

389.Blair, p, 482: Top US universities were the best in the world “plainly & inescapably due to their system of fees.” Thu Sep 2 19:23:30 2010 via web

390.Blair, pp. 482-3: Russell Group wanted £££, Roy Jenkins & Ivor Crewe wanted tuition fees, Gordon Brown “intended to resist”. Thu Sep 2 19:25:54 2010 via web

391.Blair, p.484: Roy Jenkins died in 2003, but passed on to Andrew Adonis “his political character: a rational, reasoning seeker after truth.” Thu Sep 2 19:28:54 2010 via web

392.Blair, p. 484: Ed Balls, on the other hand, “suffers from the bane of all left-leaning intellectuals.” He does not “get” aspiration. Thu Sep 2 19:29:36 2010 via web

393.Blair, p, 485, on telling Ed Balls that he didn’t understand either the intellectual or political basis for New Labour. Thu Sep 2 19:30:28 2010 via web

394.Blair, p.486-7, outlines tuition fees. The Treasury “kept demanding that more work & analysis be done.” The Treasury proposes a graduate tax Thu Sep 2 19:32:44 2010 via web

395.Blair, p. 487: “Throughout, Adonis had been a complete star… Andrew was in stark contrast to Ed.” He was “just in a different league.” Thu Sep 2 19:33:48 2010 via web

396.Blair, pp. 488-9, on defining Michael Howard, the new leader of the opposition, as “an opportunist” as Jan 2004 vote on fees approaches. Thu Sep 2 19:35:20 2010 via web

397.Blair, p, 488, on MPs’ pay: “The truth is MPs are underpaid and the expenses were used to top up income; but you can’t say that.” Thu Sep 2 19:36:40 2010 via web

398.Blair, p, 490: Sally Morgan tells him he won’t win the tuition fees vote “without your Chancellor fully & unequivocally on board.” Thu Sep 2 19:38:01 2010 via web

399.Blair, p. 491, had foolishly started talking to Gordon again about leaving office in the New Year. “I was feeling genuinely worn down.” Thu Sep 2 19:38:49 2010 via web

400.Blair, pp. 492-3, discusses Alan Milburn’s departure from government, “at the height of his talent”. Thu Sep 2 19:40:11 2010 via web

401.Blair, p. 493, says that the US “zero tolerance” approach to crime “fitted completely with my belief in cohesive communities”. Thu Sep 2 19:41:25 2010 via web

402.Blair, p. 494: Gordon argued against ASBOs, because his pollsters “used to give him unbelievably duff advice on occasions.” Thu Sep 2 19:42:23 2010 via web

403.Blair, p.495, says Prescott was bad at mediating between him & Brown, bc he thought the problems owed to a personality clash, not to policy. Thu Sep 2 19:44:01 2010 via web

404.Blair, pp. 495-6, on his belief, which “increased over time” that the distinction between left & right was “often profoundly unhelpful”. Thu Sep 2 19:44:52 2010 via web

405.@coxar ??!?!?!? Thu Sep 2 19:45:54 2010 via web in reply to coxar

406.Blair, p. 497, had promised to Brown & Prescott in November 2003 that he wd only serve for two terms, “& will go before an election”. Thu Sep 2 19:47:40 2010 via web

407.Blair, p. 497: and Brown’s side of the deal was to support Blair’s agenda. “You can debate who kept his word & who didn’t.” Thu Sep 2 19:50:04 2010 via web

408.Blair, p. 497, says “It was an assurance that shd never have been asked or given.” Not right, wise, sensible or democratic. Thu Sep 2 19:50:18 2010 via web

409.Blair, pp.498-9, on why he never sacked Brown. The anecdote involving Alex Ferguson. But he thought “he was the best Chancellor” for the UK. Thu Sep 2 19:51:44 2010 via web

410.Blair, p. 499: Why? (1) “He gave govt. ballast, solidity & strength”; no obvious replacement. (2) He only delayed, not prevented, reforms. Thu Sep 2 19:54:35 2010 via web

411.Blair, p. 500, thinks Thatcher made a mistake in standing in the way of Heseltine becoming leader. He, Blair, wd not stand in Gordon’s way. Thu Sep 2 19:56:18 2010 via web

412.Blair, p.500: but “in so doing, I just made the same mistake differently. I too tried to choose my successor”, but it was a mistaken choice. Thu Sep 2 19:57:30 2010 via web

413.Blair, p, 501: “Gerhard Schroeder was a really tough cookie.” Thu Sep 2 19:58:55 2010 via web

414.Blair, p. 503: in 2004, “we now needed to take it all to the next stage”, so “we began work on a series of five-year plans”. Thu Sep 2 20:00:17 2010 via web

415.Blair, p. 504, didn’t like being vilified. “I am not by nature a whiner; but inside I was starting to whine.” Thu Sep 2 20:01:26 2010 via web

416.Blair, p. 504, on how he prefers going to a good restaurant with friends to sitting through Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Thu Sep 2 20:02:58 2010 via web

417.Blair asks, p. 505, “When does fatigue turn to self-pity, & to surrender? I was aware that these feelings were gripping me.” His will ebbed. Thu Sep 2 20:04:04 2010 via web

418.@daveweeden I didn’t have any idea he held the 1997 manifesto in so much contempt. And the Norn Iron ch is impressive: right man, right job. Thu Sep 2 20:06:20 2010 via web in reply to daveweeden

419.@hal_berstram I know. It’s terribly funny. Thu Sep 2 20:06:59 2010 via web in reply to hal_berstram

420.@ejhchess !!! (It’s good to see you here.) Thu Sep 2 20:07:19 2010 via web in reply to ejhchess

421.Blair, p. 505: “Whatever, I wanted out.” But Cherie “told me bluntly I was kidding myself if I thought Gordon shared the same programme.” Thu Sep 2 20:08:49 2010 via web

422.Blair, p.505. I made Gordon promise not to tell anyone about my promised departure. But he told the two Eds, & the rest of his inner circle. Thu Sep 2 20:09:58 2010 via web

423.Blair, p. 506, like everyone else these days, uses the word “refute” when he just means “deny”. (Brown is bullying & snarling at him.) Thu Sep 2 20:11:44 2010 via web

424.Blair concludes, p.508, that “the only reason I wanted to go was cowardice, pure & simple”, that “I wd be going bc I cdn’t take it any more” Thu Sep 2 20:13:09 2010 via web

425.Blair, p.508: “John Reid is a very wise man”, “one of the most shrewd & profound politicians in any party” (I always thought he was a thug). Thu Sep 2 20:14:15 2010 via web

426.Blair, p. 509: “The British people, whom I genuinely adored… like a love affair, had ceased loving and were not going to start again.” Thu Sep 2 20:15:41 2010 via web

427.Blair, p. 509: “My mind was made up. I cd not hand over to Gordon, at least not at this time & quite possibly never.” (Take that, Gordon.) Thu Sep 2 20:16:21 2010 via web

428.Blair, p.510, tells media simultaneously that (1) he’d fight a 3d election, not a 4th, (2) he’s bought a house, & (3) was having a heart op. Thu Sep 2 20:17:58 2010 via web

429.@DAaronovitch I have never met John Reid, it is true. Thu Sep 2 20:18:46 2010 via web in reply to DAaronovitch

430.@DAaronovitch But not just bc journalists said it; bc of his performance as Home Secretary, in particular. Thu Sep 2 20:19:36 2010 via web in reply to DAaronovitch

431.Blair, incidentally, is happy to print “fecking” (Irish) and “fookin'” (northerners) in his book, but always has “f***” instead of “fuck”. Thu Sep 2 20:21:53 2010 via web

Chapter Seventeen: 2005: TB/GB

432.Blair, p. 512: Even though the media rarely covered policy, the public still knew we were a govt. with a programme & a leader who cd lead. Thu Sep 2 20:25:52 2010 via web

433.”But the issue, whatever my political tribe, was – in terms of perception – completely obvious: a defeat for Bush was a defeat for Blair.” Thu Sep 2 20:27:28 2010 via web

434.(That was from p. 512, on the US 2008 Presidential election, and seems to me a rather tortured sentence.) Thu Sep 2 20:27:52 2010 via web

435.Blair, p. 512, on how he “liked & admired George” & put him near the top of his list of leaders with integrity (which made people titter). Thu Sep 2 20:29:05 2010 via web

436.Blair, pp. 512-3: In 2008, the media said Obama was the visionary, McCain the “old political hack”, but it was the other way around. Thu Sep 2 20:30:09 2010 via web

437.@PootBlog If you say so. I hardly ever listen to the Today programme. I think it’s been mostly shit, ever since Rod Liddle was editor. Thu Sep 2 20:31:59 2010 via web in reply to PootBlog

438.Blair, p.513: “Even Gitmo, a policy that was both understandable &, done in a different way, justifiable” was seen as anti- the rule of law. Thu Sep 2 20:33:28 2010 via web

439.Blair, p. 513: Gitmo was handled “almost in the most provocative way possible, as if we deliberately sought to alienate liberal opinion.” Thu Sep 2 20:35:20 2010 via web

440.Blunkett resigns, p. 514. “We had an emotional farewell.” Thu Sep 2 20:36:07 2010 via web

441.Blair, pp. 514-5, zipping through events: the tsunami, Robert Jackson’s defection, support for the Palestinian Authority. Thu Sep 2 20:38:39 2010 via web

442.Blair, p.515: “Ariel Sharon was an extraordinary man… But at the same time as being utterly maddening, he was a real leader.” Thu Sep 2 20:39:31 2010 via web

443.Yes, Blair really does call Ariel Sharon, p. 515, “a big man in every sense”. Thu Sep 2 20:39:58 2010 via web

444.Blair, p. 516: If Condi Rice has a fault, it is that she is “probably too decent for the world of politics”. Thu Sep 2 20:40:47 2010 via web

445.@daveweeden Often Blair’s pronouns do have quite vague referents, and that’s a very good example. Thu Sep 2 20:42:03 2010 via web in reply to daveweeden

446.@RichardA I’ll email you the full quote. Hang on a moment. It’s more than 140 characters. Thu Sep 2 20:42:39 2010 via web in reply to RichardA

447.@RichardA Sent! Thu Sep 2 20:46:15 2010 via web in reply to RichardA

448.@Flying_Rodent I’ve just sent you (by email) the full passage. It’s more than 140 characters, you see. Thu Sep 2 20:47:52 2010 via web in reply to Flying_Rodent

449.Blair, p. 516, regrets the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. “You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop.” Thu Sep 2 20:51:01 2010 via web

450.Blair, p. 517, “has the usual Gordon problem about the election”, & “asked Alan Milburn to come back & help coordinate the election”. Thu Sep 2 20:51:55 2010 via

web

451.Blair, p. 518: “The term ‘Bliar’ had first been used in the 2001 election, but the saga of WMD had given the concept booster rockets.” Thu Sep 2 20:53:02 2010 via web

452.Blair, p.518: “The Daily Mail, in particular, was vicious. As I say, Gordon was close to Paul Dacre, the editor-in-chief of the Mail Group.” Thu Sep 2 20:54:17 2010 via web

453.@DAaronovitch Each of Blair’s 4 HS’s seemed to me more authoritarian than the last: Straw, Blunkett, Clarke, Reid. Swearing doesn’t matter. Thu Sep 2 20:56:12 2010 via web in reply to DAaronovitch

454.@mjturner1975 @DAaronovitch I’d forgotten the Bosnian stuff. Thanks for reminding me. Thu Sep 2 20:58:06 2010 via web in reply to mjturner1975

455.Blair, p. 519: “Cherie shd prob. never had tried to buy Bristol flats, but Euan was at university there & she thought they might be useful”. Thu Sep 2 20:59:36 2010 via web

456.Although Pope John Paul II “didn’t agree with Iraq… he understood the perils & pressures of leadership”. He had “the true common touch.” Thu Sep 2 21:00:54 2010 via web

457.Blair, p, 521: The Vatican has “a power… certainly not to be trifled with.” At JP2’s funeral, they try to put him next to Mugabe. Thu Sep 2 21:04:33 2010 via web

458.@DAaronovitch ??? Thu Sep 2 21:12:58 2010 via web in reply to DAaronovitch

459.OK—we leave Blair trying not to be photographed next to Mugabe at the start of the 2005 election campaign. I’m off to a nice wine-bar. Thu Sep 2 21:14:12 2010 via web

460.Only 170 pages to go. And, as before, thanks to all out there who’ve written / tweeted / retweeted / followed: it makes a difference. Thu Sep 2 21:15:00 2010 via web

461.Good morning, everyone. Back to Blair, “A Journey”, resuming on p. 521… about 24 hours ago via web

462.Blair, p. 521: He manages to escape the seat next to Mugabe at JP2’s funeral–only for Prince Charles to end up in it. about 24 hours ago via web

463.Blair, p. 522: Labour party misread result of 2005 GE & concluded a new leader wd be more popular. Perhaps–if it were a new *New Labour* PM about 24 hours ago via web

464.Blair, p. 522: in 2005, most people felt Iraq was a difficult decision. They didn’t have the “black-and-white predilection of the media.” about 24 hours ago via web

465.Blair, p. 523: The 2005 manifesto was “the next stage of an already fructifying and coherent plan”, no less. about 24 hours ago via web

466.Blair, pp.523-4: lefties “equate concern about immigration w underlying racism. This was a mistake”. My concern w immigration was “natural”. about 24 hours ago via web

467.Blair, p.524: we tightened the asylum laws in order to avoid racism, not to ‘concede’ to it, as “well-intentioned progressives” charged. about 24 hours ago via web

468.Blair, p. 524: Having effectively shut down the immigration issue, all the Tories & the media cd do was bang on and on about Iraq. about 24 hours ago via web

469.Blair, p. 525, fought the entire GE 2005 campaign with a slipped disc & “frequently suffered the most agonising twinges”. about 24 hours ago via web

470.@sarahditum Haven’t read that post. (I don’t normally read Labour List.) I’ll try to remember to look at it later. about 23 hours ago via web in reply to sarahditum

471.Blair, p. 526: Relations w Gordon were “rather good during the campaign”. “We were together a lot, & I think this calmed him.” about 23 hours ago via web

472.Blair, p.526: Balls wanted to raise taxes. He was wrong. Public might *say* they want increased spending, but they don’t want to pay for it. about 23 hours ago via web

473.@sarahditum But Blair’s discussion of immigration is far more about neutralising it as a campaigning issue, not about “beating” Tories on it about 23 hours ago via web  in reply to sarahditum

474.Blair, p. 527: Blair says Charles Kennedy was a “decent bloke” & uses word “plastered” in same sentence– though wrt LD leaflets, not booze. about 23 hours ago via web

475.Blair, p. 527: The Mail & BBC ran w the leaked copy of the AG’s advice, so the final 10 days of campaign were “virtually submerged in Iraq.” about 23 hours ago via web

476.Blair, p.528: Andrew Marr said there wd be a hung parlt, but Blair “was sure Britain wanted the govt to survive intact w a working majority” about 23 hours ago via web

477.Blair, p.528: Felt deflated after winning. Historic 3d term, yes, but feeling down bc Gordon wanted Hoon to be chief whip & Balls a minister about 23 hours ago via web

478.Blair, p. 529: campaign was horrible, but “it was clear to me that I had grown up as aleader”, as I cd “acknowledge” feelings of weakness. about 23 hours ago via web

479.Blair, p. 530: I wanted to embed a reform programme. Obvs Gordon wd be defeated in next election if he “moved a millimetre from New Labour”. about 23 hours ago via web

480.@richardethics @sarahditum Blair book is half price at Waterstones; paperback may not be much cheaper than that. about 23 hours ago via web in reply to richardethics

481.Blair, p. 530: Leo was now five, “getting to that fascinating age when you can almost see the brain sprouting forth.” about 23 hours ago via web

482.Blair, p.531: Sarkozy and I had various things in common: energy & determination; “impatience w the traditional categories of right & left”. about 23 hours ago via web

483.Blair, p.531: The diff. was that he had “not a glimmer of self-doubt”. I cd see the Fr. wd go for that. A touch of arrogance defines France. about 23 hours ago via web

484.Blair, p. 531: And, happily, the French voted no in the EU Constitution referendum, which got me off the hook. Jack Straw was pleased, too. about 23 hours ago via web

485.Blair, pp. 532-3: Stuff about the EU budget rebate. For Blair, “Europe was a simple issue” because “it was to do with the modern world.” about 23 hours ago via web

486.Blair, p.534: Lee Kuan Yew was “the smartest leader I ever met” and he thought Thatcher was crazy over Europe. Manmohan Singh said the same. about 23 hours ago via web

487.Blair. p. 537, says several times that bc of him Britain was at the “heart” of stuff in Europe, “not marginalised”, at “the centre”, etc. about 23 hours ago via web

488.Blair, p. 537: Gordon was more pro-€ than I was in 1997, but “he expressed himself negatively” on it in a way that I didn’t. about 23 hours ago via web

489.Blair, p.538: Speaking to the Euro Parlt was like “being in a girls’ school playground after serving a long stretch in a hi-security prison” about 23 hours ago via web

490.Blair, p. 539, back in the Commons, makes lots of jokes and is generally pleased w himself. about 23 hours ago via web

491.Blair, p. 539: Merkel beat Schroeder. “As I say, my friendship with Gerhard had dimmed.” “It wasn’t personal on my part”, but it was on his. about 23 hours ago via web

492.Blair, p.539: I had more in common w Merkel than w the SPD. This was “increasingly the case in my relations with the European centre right”. about 23 hours ago via web

493.Blair, p. 539: The SPD were “very close to Russia” & had a “very trad” view of the Euro social model. “Angela wd see the need for change.” about 23 hours ago via web

494.Blair, p. 540, wd like Turkey to be in the EU. The prospect of accession “gave Turkey’s modernisers something to aim at.” about 23 hours ago via web

495.Blair, p. 540: the “implications of estrangement” of Judaeo-Christian from Muslim civilisations “are very large”. about 22 hours ago via web

496.Blair, p.541, MENTIONS JUSTUS LIPSIUS! (I’ve just written a book abt him, so this is EXCITING) Actually just mentions the Brussels building. about 22 hours ago via web

497.Blair, pp. 542-3: In the end, Brown was so annoying over the EU budget deal that “I’m afraid I just stopped taking his calls”. about 22 hours ago via web

Chapter Eighteen: Triumph and Tragedy

498.Blair, p. 544: “I am very typically British. I like to have time and comfort in the loo.” about 22 hours ago via web

499.Blair, p.545: “She is a great person, Tessa [Jowell], just a gem. She represents the best of pol. loyalty, which at its best isn’t blind.” about 22 hours ago via web

500.@frejan Thankyou! about 22 hours ago via web in reply to frejan

501.Blair, p. 547: Without Cherie, the UK would not have won the Olympics. about 22 hours ago via web

502.Blair, p. 547: David Beckham (“a complete pro”) “generally sent Singapore into a twitter, which is exactly what was required.” about 22 hours ago via web

503.Blair, pp.548-9: “There is something about a group of Russian men that makes you want them on your side.” You realise why Napoleon failed. about 22 hours ago via web

504.Blair, p. 549: I liked Princess Anne, but she was probably indifferent to me, “except on the hunting ban, which I’m sure she wd have hated.” about 22 hours ago via web

505.Blair, p. 550, reports Prince Philip saying that Stoke is a “ghastly place”. about 22 hours ago via web

506.Blair, p. 550: “Jacques Chirac arrived, swinging into the party like he owned the Olympics & everything in it.” about 22 hours ago via web

507.Blair, p. 552, says he likes Silvio Berlusconi bc he wd promise nothing, but deliver, where most politicians promise something & then don’t. about 22 hours ago via web

508.Blair, p. 553, goes to Gleneagles. His thoughts towards the anti-globalisation protestors “were not charitable”. about 22 hours ago via web

509.Blair, p. 553, had “reached a new stage of development within myself”. “I was not happy… but I was mentally very strong.” about 22 hours ago via web

510.Blair, p.554: “Usually, G8 focused on the world economy. This time I took it to a whole new level”, w an agenda on Africa & climate change. about 22 hours ago via web

511.Blair, pp. 554-5, witters on a bit about Bob Geldof and Bono. Both care “more about getting things done than about protecting their egos.” about 22 hours ago via web

512.Blair, p. 555, “spent a long time wondering what made him [Bono] so good at what he did”. It is hard work & motivation. He is never relaxed. about 22 hours ago via web

513.Blair, p. 555: George didn’t like summits. He “resented the hypocrisy that marked and occasionally defined them.” about 22 hours ago via web

514.Blair, pp.555-6: George was “sceptical about climate change”, because he is a “real conservative & has qualities I admire in conservatives.” about 22 hours ago via web

515.Blair, p. 556: Though, obvs., I am not one myself. But although “people might say they don’t like conservatives, they still vote for them.” about 22 hours ago via web

516.@IanAppleby Thankyou! about 22 hours ago via web in reply to IanAppleby

517.IanAppleby Every so often comes a novel use for twitter that treads the thin line between madness and genius. @virtualstoa is tweeting Blair’s book #ff about 22 hours ago via ÜberTwitter Retweeted by you and 7 others

518.Blair, p. 557, and the line from Bush about how “You got the Belgians running Europe?” “He shook his head, now aghast at our stupidity.” about 22 hours ago via web

519.Blair. p. 557: Later, Bush “spent more on developing clean fuel” and “trebled aid to Africa” but the world gave him no credit for it. about 22 hours ago via web

520.Blair, pp.557-8: My friends wd ask me what I really thought of GWB. I said “I really liked him”. “Complete incomprehension” followed. about 22 hours ago via web

521.Blair, p. 559: On Africa, “w Bob & Bono at the helm, there wd be a sensible debate.” I came to dislike part of the NGO culture, esp. Greens. about 22 hours ago via web

522.Blair. p. 560: “The case for nuclear power is now so overwhelming that frankly it is almost irresponsible… to oppose its development.” about 22 hours ago via web

523.Blair, p. 561: the UK wins the Olympics. Blair “shot up like a rocketing pheasant” & is reminded of winning an exhibition to Fettes aged 12. about 22 hours ago via web

524.Blair, p. 562: Chirac had said a few days earlier that “you can’t trust people whose cooking is so bad”. Not just the Brits, the Finns, too. about 22 hours ago via web

525.Blair, p. 562: Junichiro Koizumi teases Chirac mercilessly about this at the summit dinner in front of the Queen as they eat excellent food. about 22 hours ago via web

526.Blair, pp. 564-5: Bush knocks over a Scottish policeman when riding a bike, & news arrives of “an incident on the Tube.” about 22 hours ago via web

527.Blair, p. 566, thinks about what to do. “There will be a time for me to weep later. Now you are the leader, so lead.” about 21 hours ago via web

528.Blair, p, 567: on the plane going back to London, the French Ambassador eats stale crisps, old peanuts, and sub-British Rail sandwiches. about 21 hours ago via web

529.Blair, p.567: the killing of JC de Menezes was a “terrible error”, but he also feels sorry for the officers, “who were acting in good faith” about 21 hours ago via web

530.Blair, p.568: “When Lord Hoffmann described the anti-terror laws as more of a threat to the UK than the terrorists, I just cdn’t believe it” about 21 hours ago via web

531.Blair, pp.568-9: Although “I paid tribute to the Muslim population of Britain”, “I had real doubts abt some of the leaders of the community” about 21 hours ago via web

532.Blair, p.569: “We had to paint the contrast in the boldest letters. Good politics & evil. Stark. Simple. Undeniable to all but the deranged” about 21 hours ago via web

533.The cat is now sitting on my lap & resting her head & paws on my right fore-arm, which is nice, but makes Blair-tweeting more difficult. about 21 hours ago via web

534.Blair, p.570: After the G8, at the press conference, “there was the usual nonsense from some NGO bloke about how we had all let Africa down” about 21 hours ago via web

535.Blair, p. 570: Geldof “basically tore the bloke’s head off for being so negative… shouting abuse as only an irate Irishman can.” about 21 hours ago via web

536.Blair, p. 570, had a “complete vision” of how we can “overcome the greatness of our history to discover the full potential of our future.” about 21 hours ago via web

537.Blair, pp. 570-1: “But now I wasn’t sure I cd do it… The forces aligned against me were so many.” And “I cd so easily be released.” about 21 hours ago via web

538.Blair reflects, p. 571, on how the Gleneagles summit might save millions of lives in Africa. He pours himself a drink & thinks about Leo. about 21 hours ago via web

539.@paul_sagar Well, pp. 565-72, but he talks about other things in them, too. about 21 hours ago via web in reply to paul_sagar

540.@richardethics That’s a quote. I think he means the UK was kind of paralyzed by its glorious history & he was liberating it to move forward. about 21 hours ago via web in reply to richardethics

Chapter Nineteen: Toughing it Out

541.Blair, p. 573, says that his final two years in office were, “in many ways, the best of years and the worst of years.” He felt liberated… about 21 hours ago via web

542.[Cont.] … but the party was revolting, Gordon plotting, the media hated him, Iraq “teetered on the brink” & there was a police inquiry. about 21 hours ago via web

543.Blair, p. 573, was trying “to achieve a kind of weightlessness” that allowed him “to float about the demonic rabble tearing at my limbs.” about 21 hours ago via web

544.Blair, pp. 573: I planned to go, mid-2007. Actually, I might have gone on a bit longer, bc Gordon wasn’t cooperating, but I was pushed out. about 21 hours ago via web

545.Blair, p. 574: “For the first time since I became PM, I was guided simply by what I genuinely thought was right on domestic policies.” about 21 hours ago via web

546.Blair, pp.574-5: I launched the Fundamental Savings Review, but it was “fought every inch of the way” by Gordon, so I cdn’t put it in place. about 21 hours ago via web

547.Blair, p.575, on his Oct 2005 Schools White Paper, which–apart from fees–“in every other respect broke with the trad comprehensive school” about 21 hours ago via web

548.Blair, p. 576, quotes at length from his 2005 speech for the NPF. “The only progressive means are those that deliver progressive ends.” about 21 hours ago via web

549.@GriddleOctopus Don’t think so. Humphrey certainly doesn’t have his own entry in the index. about 21 hours ago via web in reply to GriddleOctopus

550.Blair, p. 577: Academies were great, because they were “freed from extraordinarily debilitating & often politically correct interference”. about 21 hours ago via web

551.Blair, p. 577, in late 2006 reports “shrieking and barking from next door”. about 21 hours ago via web

552.Blair, p. 577: another little dig at Ed Balls. about 21 hours ago via web

553.Blair, p. 578: critics of his schools policy included, “to my sadness”, Estelle Morris, also Kinnock (“pretty much routinely offside”). about 21 hours ago via web

554.Blair, p. 578: the heart of New Labour was its “championing of aspiration”. “Equity cd not & shd never be at the expense of excellence.” about 21 hours ago via web

555.@richardethics Nietzsche, also, if memory serves; though, to his credit, Blair hasn’t actually proclaimed himself the superman. about 21 hours ago via web in reply to richardethics

556.Blair, pp. 578-9, reflects on his brother Bill, who was in a lower academic stream at Fettes, but went on to Balliol & a career as a judge. about 21 hours ago via web

557.Blair, p. 579: Selection is not right, but “the way comps were introduced & grammars abandoned was pretty close to academic vandalism.” about 21 hours ago via web

558.Blair, p.579: Grammars & private schools are good bc of leadership, bc they think excellence is attainable & don’t make excuses for failure. about 20 hours ago via web

559.@mngreenall I know. Who’d have thought it? about 20 hours ago via web in reply to mngreenall

560.Blair, p. 580, remembers visiting a school before 1997 & being appalled by the head’s excuses for its “collective failure”. It was “gross”. about 20 hours ago via web

561.Blair, p. 581, is pleased with Civil Partnerships, and recalls how bigoted the Tories had been about gay rights. about 20 hours ago via web

562.@paul_sagar It’s wonderful, isn’t it? (But it isn’t about Eq of Opp: he’s very clear in this discussion that excellence trumps equity.) about 20 hours ago via web in reply to paul_sagar

563.Blair, p.582: one problem with the anti-terror laws was that “in the human rts field there is a lot of subjective judgement about politics.” about 20 hours ago via web

564.Blair, p. 583, on losing the vote on 90 days detention. “The public was with me, the majority of the House of Commons wasn’t.” about 20 hours ago via web

565.Blair, p. 584, reports feeling “absolutely at the height of my ability & at the top of my game” just when “my popularity was at its lowest.” about 20 hours ago via web

566.OK. Lunch break. Back soon, and thanks for keeping me company. Only just over 100 pages to go, thank goodness. about 20 hours ago via web

567.@donpaskini Surprisingly no, though it was especially nice to hit the bottle last night. He hasn’t intruded into my dreams, thank goodness. about 20 hours ago via web in reply to donpaskini

568.OK: back to Blair. Is it interesting that Geoff Mulgan is not mentioned in this book? (No, it isn’t. Sorry for bringing it up.) about 20 hours ago via web

569.@ByrneToff Thankyou. I’ll be glad when it’s over. about 20 hours ago via web in reply to ByrneToff

570.Blair, p.585, thinks abt pensions, wanting “a framework that over time wd…tilt the responsibility for provision from state to individual.” about 20 hours ago via web

571.@richardethics Not in the index, & I don’t recall seeing his name so far. about 20 hours ago via web in reply to richardethics

572.Blair, p. 586, was more keen on protecting the basic state pension than Brown. It was the “dividend” for people’s NI contributions. about 20 hours ago via web

573.Blair, p. 587: income inequality widened, 1997-2007. But that was bc the top were doing very well. And the bottom deciles did v. well too. about 19 hours ago via web

574.Blair, p. 587: “emotionally” I felt that “some of the top earnings were unjustified”, but “rationally” this was just the way of the world. about 19 hours ago via web

575.Blair, p.588: John Hutton was “a thoroughly nice guy”, “loyal” and “bright”, but “consciously lacking in the final thrust of determination”. about 19 hours ago via web

576.@PreachyPreach No. She’s last mentioned on p. 276, long before 9/11, let alone Iraq, appears in the main narrative. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to PreachyPreach

577.Blair, p. 588, wd say to Brown that they had to slash spending on incapacity benefit, otherwise a future Tory govt wd, “but in a Tory way”. about 19 hours ago via web

578.@rickmuir1 I elided the quote slightly: “the way of the world in a globalised economy”. But your point, obvs., still stands. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to rickmuir1

579.@rickmuir1 And, in general, this is exactly what he does: you decide what’s “modern” or “modernising” and then go with that, whatever it is. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to rickmuir1

580.@daveweeden If I have the energy. Prob not a review, but some reflections for the blog. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to daveweeden

581.@leloveluck If you take off the dust-jacket, you don’t have his face any more, just TONY BLAIR in huge letters on the spine. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to leloveluck

582.Blair, p. 589: In 2006, we planned major changes to NHS, schools, crime, etc. The public didn’t know, so cdn’t participate in any debate. about 19 hours ago via web

583.Blair, p. 589: the media kept saying we were “running out of steam”. In fact, “they were running out of patience and interest.” about 19 hours ago via web

584.Blair, p. 590: “In January, we had Ruth Kelly & the sex offenders list.” (The mind boggles.) about 19 hours ago via web

585.@jimthehedgehog Not mentioned. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to jimthehedgehog

586.Blair, p. 590: “It’s a strange thing, politics and sex.” (NB this is prompted by Prescott’s affair, not by anything in the previous tweet.) about 19 hours ago via web

587.Blair, p. 591: Politicians shag around bc of “the supreme self-control you have to exercise to be at the top”. about 19 hours ago via web

588.Blair, p.591: “The thing abt politics is that it is at a certain level v. v. boring.” But in my office there was “a definite joie de vivre”. about 19 hours ago via web

589.Blair, pp.591-2: lots of politicians lacked “the joie de vivre part”. And however their marriages were, they exploded with irresponsibility. about 19 hours ago via web

590.Blair, p.592: When the Prescott sex scandal broke, the media had him “in their sights, sat on the wall like a watermelon in target practice” about 19 hours ago via web

591.Blair throws around stupid metaphors, p. 592: “the bazooka of outrage”, “the blowpipe of ridicule”. about 19 hours ago via web

592.Blair, p. 593: I didn’t sack JP. But he lost pleasure in staying, & “he wanted out; but it was hard for him to go w/out me going too.” about 19 hours ago via web

593.Blair, p. 594: Reshuffling Cabinet, I made “a sort of ‘worst of all worlds’ set of decisions”: Beckett to FCO, moving Straw, losing Clarke. about 19 hours ago via web

594.Blair, p. 594, on the Israel / Lebanon war in 2006: “That event, & my reaction to it, prob. did me more damage than anything since Iraq.” about 19 hours ago via web

595.Blair, p. 594: “It showed how far I had swung from the mainstream of conventional Western media wisdom & from my own people…” about 19 hours ago via web

596.[Cont.] “… but also how set (stuck?) in my own mode of thinking I had become.” about 19 hours ago via web

597.sarahditum RT @EdStern: the bassoon of contumely, the flugelhorn of ennui, the sackbut of envy #blairmetaphors about 19 hours ago via HootSuite Retweeted by you and 2 others

598.@krs133 Yes. And it was then that I felt the mood really hardened against him in my local Labour Party. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to krs133

599.@hopisen His regret is he didn’t offer Clarke the FCO, which he didn’t do bc CC was “mired in the wretched ‘foreign offenders’ business.” about 19 hours ago via web in reply to hopisen

600.@crookedfootball Yes, indeed. It is a handy distinction. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to crookedfootball

601.Blair, p. 595: “Israel reacted to the provocation in the way that it does… strike back and hard”, with encouragement from Western leaders. about 19 hours ago via web

602.Blair, p. 595: Bush says, “Yo Blair”. “People went nuts back home for some reason… We have become sth we really never used to be: chippy.” about 19 hours ago via web

603.Blair, p. 596: At the G8 summit, “there was a common belief that Hezbollah had it coming, & if Israel took them out, so much the better.” about 19 hours ago via web

604.Blair, p. 596: But “after Israel retaliated w force”, the “international angst transfers from the provocation to the retaliation.” about 19 hours ago via web

605.Blair, p. 596: “Israel is a government with a well-armed & well-trained army & air force. They do not target civilians.” about 19 hours ago via web

606.Blair, p.597: Europeans wanted a unilateral ceasefire, but “I felt it was wrong.” We cdn’t expect Israel to stop unless the rockets stopped. about 19 hours ago via web

607.Blair, p. 597: “It was a ghastly method of deterrence & horrible for Lebanon. But I cd see it from his [Olmert’s] & Israel’s position.” about 19 hours ago via web

608.@rowanrobo The one about Ariel Sharon being “a big man in every sense” (predictably enough). about 19 hours ago via web in reply to rowanrobo

609.Blair, p.597: “The occupation of Palestinian land may be an injustice, depending on yr viewpt, but this is a region w plenty of injustices.” about 19 hours ago via web

610.@kevbarry1 Good spot! No Giddens in the index, and I don’t remember coming across his name. about 19 hours ago via web in reply to kevbarry1

611.Blair, p. 598: “In Sept 2006 I visited Beirut… Unsurprisingly, I was not popular with many Lebanese people.” about 18 hours ago via web

612.Blair, p. 598: Why didn’t I just call for the unilateral ceasefire? Israel wd have understood if I had. about 18 hours ago via web

613.Blair, p. 599: “But I had by now come to see the entire conventional approach in dealing with this problem as itself part of the problem.” about 18 hours ago via web

614.Blair, p.599: Most people thought the conflict was between Israel & Lebanon. But I thought it was between Islamic extremism & the rest of us about 18 hours ago via web

615.Blair, p.599: “Of course, I cd see that Israel’s action was at one level disproportionate” & that the Palestinians were victims of injustice about 18 hours ago via web

616.Blair, p.599: “But none of this got to the root of the matter, which was in this deeper struggle that affected the whole of the ME & Islam.” about 18 hours ago via web

617.Blair, p.600: “If I condemned Israel, it wd be more than dishonest; it wd have undermined the worldview I had come to hold passionately.” about 18 hours ago via web

618.OK: short break: then back for the final three chapters, “Endgame”, “Departure” & “Postscript”. about 18 hours ago via web

Chapter Twenty: Endgame

619.Blair, p. 602, returns from Lebanon. “Mainstream” PLP members told Ruth Turner “my reaction indicated a profound loss of touch”. about 18 hours ago via web

620.Blair, p. 602: But “it wasn’t that I didn’t get public opinion on Lebanon, nor that I cdn’t have articulated it… I didn’t agree with it.” about 18 hours ago via web

621.Blair, p. 603: Not “that I cdn’t guess which way the wind was blowing” but “that I distrusted a policy of following the prevailing wind.” about 18 hours ago via web

622.Blair, p. 603: “Ten years earlier, new to office… I wd have made a different choice… I had evolved… I was a changed leader.” about 18 hours ago via web

623.Blair, p.604: “The GB crew were agitating more or less openly for my departure”, picking off younger Blairites w offers of future promotion. about 18 hours ago via web

624.Blair, p.605: I saw that when I left there wd be “Old Labour organisational politics and bits of New Lab policy”, w trade offs to the left. about 18 hours ago via web

625.Blair, p. 605: Resentment is (1) “a bad & distorting emotion”, (2) “unheathy… in a leader”, (3) but you can’t really complain about it. about 18 hours ago via web

626.Blair, p. 605: But “if I ever came close to resentment, it was over so-called ‘cash for honours'”, esp. bc of the way my staff was treated. about 18 hours ago via web

627.Blair, p. 607: Putting campaign donors in the Lords is “a murky business, but it is the system as it has operated for a long, long time.” about 18 hours ago via web

628.Blair, p 607: “So, in a way, what was odd was that a trade union leader whose union had donated generously cd go in the Lords & no one wd… about 18 hours ago via web

629.[Cont.] “…bat an eyelid, but private sector entrepreneurs who might be highly successful businessmen were somehow regarded as illegit.” about 18 hours ago via web

630.Blair, p.608: Gordon & I had “the ugliest meeting we ever had” on 15 March 2006; p.609: two hours later, Jack Dromey called for an inquiry. about 18 hours ago via web

631.Blair, p.609: “I really don’t know for a fact that Gordon put Jack up to it. Gordon denied ever speaking to him.” about 18 hours ago via web

632.Blair, p. 609: But after that, “our relations were on a diff. footing… I couldn’t forget it, & found it hard to forgive.” I was also sad. about 18 hours ago via web

633.Blair, p. 609: Although we were behind in the polls for only the 2d time since 1997, “I was beginning to get the measure of David Cameron.” about 18 hours ago via web

634.Blair, p. 610: “When it is said that people took their eye off Afghanistan because of Iraq, it isn’t so, at least not for the British.” about 18 hours ago via web

635.Blair, p. 610-11 discusses the deployment of British troops to Helmand province in Afghanistan. about 18 hours ago via web

636.Blair, p.611, was “alarmed” about “the increase of endeavour in Afghanistan” (???), & “uncertain that we had the right civilian leadership.” about 17 hours ago via web

637.Blair, p. 612, on foolishly agreeing to an interview when he knows he’ll be asked about his departure date. about 17 hours ago via web

638.Blair, pp. 613-4, on a “typically brilliant note from Andrew Adonis” in which he calls Brown “a weak interlude between you & Cameron.” about 17 hours ago via web

639.Blair, p. 614: Adonis suggests that Blair = Macmillan, Brown = Douglas-Home & Cameron = Harold Wilson, who will win by a whisker. about 17 hours ago via web

640.Blair, p. 615: In interview, Blair refuses to “set a date”, though tells Brown he still plans to go; Brown camp respond with the “coup”. about 17 hours ago via web

641.Blair, p. 615: “Essentially, they decided to organise waves of resignation letters & round robins calling for me to go.” about 17 hours ago via web

642.Blair, p. 616: Unless Brown “spelt out whether he was New Labour or something different, & defined it, it was going to be a disaster.” about 17 hours ago via web

643.Blair, p. 616: “Gordon is a strange guy.” But this wasn’t the “fundamental problem”. about 17 hours ago via web

644.Blair, p.617: the FP was that “he simply did not understand the appeal of New Labour in anything other than an election-winning sort of way” about 17 hours ago via web

645.Blair, p.617: It was better for the NL project that the govt end bc Brown abandoned it than bc I insisted on staying & damaged it that way. about 17 hours ago via web

646.@rickmuir1 Yes indeed, though the extent to which A Journey is a kind of love letter to Andrew Adonis is something of a surprise. about 17 hours ago via web in reply to rickmuir1

647.Blair, p.617: the media wanted me out & Brown in. Except the Murdoch press, which was “still broadly supportive”. about 17 hours ago via web

648.Blair, p. 617: “So I knew there were very good objective reasons for the party and, more important, the country that I stay.” about 17 hours ago via web

649.Blair, p. 618: Talks with Brown; Tom Watson resigns. “I smacked him very hard in my response.” He was “disloyal, discourteous & wrong.” about 17 hours ago via web

650.Blair, p. 619: “Actually, later I felt sorry for him & regretted I had done it.” Chris Bryant & Siôn Simon hadn’t thought it all through. about 17 hours ago via web

651.Blair, p. 620: the Progress organisation has “good young people who were onside w what we were trying to achieve.” Not like Compass at all. about 17 hours ago via web

652.Blair, p. 620: Brown’s people liked “old-style trade union fixing & activist stitch-ups.” That was “completely hopeless” for a modern party. about 17 hours ago via web

653.Blair, p. 621, reflects on booze and PMs. He drinks about as much as I do, but he was “aware it had become a prop” in a way that I am not. about 17 hours ago via web

654.@hal_berstram I know, & it’s a puzzling failure, given that he had so long to think about it. about 17 hours ago via web in reply to hal_berstram

655.Actually, Blair’s reflections on alcohol, pp. 621-2, are banal in the extreme. “However, you have to be honest: it’s a drug”, etc. about 17 hours ago via web

656.Blair’s recommendation about booze is that you should “use it with care” and “be honest about its relationship to your life”. about 17 hours ago via web

657.Blair, p. 623: the big trade unions and I “ended our time as we began: in mutual incomprehension”. about 17 hours ago via web

658.Blair, p. 623: “They thought I was a Conservative in Labour clothing; and I thought they were conservatives in labour clothing.” about 17 hours ago via web

659.Blair, p. 623: it was sad that really good Blairites like Liz Lloyd were now looking for parlty seats and being kept out by the GB machine. about 17 hours ago via web

660.Blair, p. 623: I’ve been nasty about Ed Balls, but he’s actually really able & talented. about 17 hours ago via web

661.Blair, p.624: In the 1990s we overcame the problem of parlty selections: “if you were good, you stood a chance”. Now it was going backwards. about 17 hours ago via web

662.Blair, p.625: In my final months in office, “we pinned down crucial parts of the change programme” & left lots of sensible policy directions about 17 hours ago via web

663.@Mr_Considerate Yes, it will make me drunk. about 17 hours ago via web in reply to Mr_Considerate

Chapter Twenty-One: Departure

664.Blair, pp. 626-7: remarks on family life in No. 10, which included occasional jam sessions w Blair on guitar & his son Nicky on drums. about 17 hours ago via web

665.Blair, p. 628: “Cherie didn’t always help herself”. She has “this incredible instinct for offending the powerful”, esp. in the media. about 17 hours ago via web

666.Blair, p. 629: On holding high office: “There is also a certain sadness that settles on you that never leaves”, esp. bc people get killed. about 17 hours ago via web

667.Blair, p. 630: on the 2006 Queen’s Speech, which “had law and order as its theme”. about 17 hours ago via web

668.Blair, p.631: it was hard to lose “idol & mentor” Derry Irvine, but we were “trying to get some modernity” into the criminal justice system. about 17 hours ago via web

669.Blair, pp. 631-3: summary of changes to Home Office, criminal justice, Lord Chancellor, anti-social behaviour, etc. about 17 hours ago via web

670.Blair, p. 634: Twice I thanked God for the independence of the British judiciary, over ‘cash for honours’ and the Hutton inquiry. about 17 hours ago via web

671.Blair, p. 634: But ordinary people “were acutely vulnerable in ways the outdated system did not acknowledge.” about 17 hours ago via web

672.Blair, pp. 634-5, on the attempt to get a super-casino, which Tessa Jowell “womanfully supported” & Gordon eventually abandoned. about 16 hours ago via web

673.Blair, pp. 635-6: I agreed to renew Trident, though “I cd see clearly the force of the common sense & practical argument against” it. about 16 hours ago via web

674.Blair, p. 636: In the end, Gordon & I agreed. I said to him “Can you imagine standing up in the Commons & saying I’ve decided to scrap it?” about 16 hours ago via web

675.Blair, p. 637: GB had won. “The only thing that mattered was that he succeeded & the New Labour project was established in an enduring way.” about 16 hours ago via web

676.@hal_berstram No — there’s practically nothing on childhood / education / Oxford / Ugly Rumours, and so on (unless it’s in the final 50 pp) about 16 hours ago via web in reply to hal_berstram

677.Blair, p.637: “But I’m afraid he cdn’t see it”, & his people–not Ed Miliband–were denigrating “Pathways to the Future” as a vanity project about 16 hours ago via web

678.@krs133 It is not true that Phil Collins is not mentioned in the book’s main text (though P “The Thinker” R is right about that index entry) about 16 hours ago via web in reply to krs133

679.I’ve just stuck Götterdämmerung Act 2 on the stereo for this last bit. It seems appropriate, esp. since it’s not Blair’s idea of a good time about 16 hours ago via web

680.Blair, p. 638: We needed “modern methods” of politics which “blurred the distinction” between activists & the public. about 16 hours ago via web

681.Blair, p. 639, thinks that “four or five in ten” of the electorate are “true believers” in New Labour. about 16 hours ago via web

682.Blair, p.640: “My vision was to discard conventional notions of party mem’ship & structure & to use new technology to interact w supporters” about 16 hours ago via web

683.@sladey66 Thanks! about 16 hours ago via web in reply to sladey66

684.Blair, p. 640: Cruddas wrote a pamphlet about building a coalition of Guardian intellectuals & trade union activists, i.e. reheated Bennism. about 16 hours ago via web

685.Blair, pp.640-1: Douglas Alexander wrote a pamphlet which was brilliant about what was wrong, but “lapsed into woolliness” & avoided hard Qs about 16 hours ago via web

686.Blair, p. 641: His sister Wendy is lovely. But they & Ed Balls fell victim to the “Gordon curse” which is “more like a cult than a kirk”. about 16 hours ago via web

687.Blair, pp. 641-3, discusses the policy papers produced by “Pathways to the Future”. He makes some speeches called “Our Nation’s Future”. about 16 hours ago via web

688.Blair, p.644: in these speeches I gave lessons to my successors, eg that to deal with the “criminal underclass” you need “draconian powers”. about 16 hours ago via web

689.@daveweeden Yes, but they are so very Old Labour, obvs. about 16 hours ago via web in reply to daveweeden

690.Blair, p. 645: And on social exclusion, you shd concentrate on dysfunctional families, not on poor people or young people in general. about 16 hours ago via web

691.Blair, p. 645: People shd also eat well & stay fit. about 16 hours ago via web

692.Blair, p. 646: And there was a speech about science. Also remarks on Leo & the MMR vaccine, which he had, obvs. about 16 hours ago via web

693.Blair, p. 647: And there was a speech about multiculturalism. “With citizenship shd come certain clear duties as well as rights.” about 16 hours ago via web

694.Blair, p. 647: And there was a speech about defence. The armed forces need a new deal, because “we are asking them to go back into combat.” about 16 hours ago via web

695.@ejhchess Amazon is wrong: it’s 691 pp, plus xvii of front matter & a 26 page index. about 16 hours ago via web in reply to ejhchess

696.Blair, p. 647: And there was a speech about the workplace, which was “intellectually incoherent” but had sth about utilising human capital. about 16 hours ago via web

697.Blair, pp. 647-8: And there was a speech about the media, in which I called them “feral beasts”. about 16 hours ago via web

698.Blair, p. 649: Though I am “naturally attracted by iconoclasm”, “the uniquness” of the House of Lords “is worth preserving”. about 16 hours ago via web

699.Blair, p. 650, decides that his decade in power “had been reasonably successful”. about 16 hours ago via web

700.Blair, pp. 650-1: I campaigned in the Scottish elections, which we lost. about 16 hours ago via web

701.Blair, p. 652: I campaigned in the Welsh Assembly elections, though Rhodri Morgan was “not wildly enthusiastic about my participation”. about 16 hours ago via web

702.Blair, p. 652: I went to Basra, where the senior officers wanted to leave Iraq so they could “get stuck into Afghanistan”. about 16 hours ago via web

703.Blair, p. 652: I met the widow of a dead soldier. “We talked for a bit & suddenly I was overcome with tears”. about 16 hours ago via web

704.Blair, p. 652: When you meet such people, something changes within you. You have to feel it, overcome it, take the decision & move on. about 16 hours ago via web

705.(I agree that the last tweet is a bit cryptic, but the paragraph of Blair’s book that it summarises seems to me to be a bit enigmatic, too.) about 16 hours ago via web

706.Blair, p. 653: I met a very bouncy Sarkozy at the start of his Presidential campaign and told him that he sounded like Napoleon. about 16 hours ago via web

707.Blair, p. 654: “I was rather chagrined to be leaving just as she [Angela Merkel] and Nicolas [Sarkozy] were arriving.” about 16 hours ago via web

708.Blair, p. 654: I told the Queen I wd be stepping down shortly, then visited Sedgefield, various foreign countries, and to see the Pope. about 16 hours ago via web

709.Blair, p.655: In the deputy leadership election, “the out-and-out moderniser Hazel Blears scored only moderately but fought a good campaign” about 15 hours ago via web

710.(This is Blair’s way of saying that she came last in the Electoral College & was eliminated in the first round with 11.77%.) about 15 hours ago via web

711.Blair, p. 655: John Reid could have stood against Gordon, “but the Murdoch papers, I fear at Rupert’s instigation, just wrote him off.” about 15 hours ago via web

712.Blair tells David Miliband, p.655, to be prepared to run for leader later, and clearly wants him to be the unambiguous New Labour candidate. about 15 hours ago via web

713.@rickmuir1 Well, he says “diversity” is “clearly a strength”. about 15 hours ago via web in reply to rickmuir1

714.Blair, pp.655-6, writes Brown a memo in Feb 2007, but “not with any confidence it wd persuade”. But “I can’t say I can hold it against him.” about 15 hours ago via web

715.Blair, p. 656, said that Brown must either have a “clean break” with New Labour (and lose) or (2) run as “Continuity New Labour” (and win). about 15 hours ago via web

716.@rickmuir1 He doesn’t mention banging on about muslim extremism in the one-short-para description of the speech in the book. about 15 hours ago via web in reply to rickmuir1

717.@rickmuir1 Though he is pretty vague about what he did say–just stuff about unspecified “duties” as well as “rights”. about 15 hours ago via web in reply to rickmuir1

718.Blair, p. 656: “There’s nothing worse than ‘oh if only he had listened to me’ rubbish.” But he should have listened to me. about 15 hours ago via web

719.Blair, p. 657: “It was strange to be bowing out. I was at the height of my powers, if not my power.” about 15 hours ago via web

720.Blair. p. 657: But my media support had evaporated. Lefties supported GB bc they wanted a left govt, & rightists bc they wanted a Tory govt. about 15 hours ago via web

721.Blair, p. 657: Since I cdn’t engage in political debate when he was leader, bc of accusations of disloyalty, I had to leave Parliament. about 15 hours ago via web

722.Blair, pp. 657-8: Lots of people stopped listening to me, bc they disagreed with my policies, & the media told them I was a liar & a crook. about 15 hours ago via web

723.HouseofTwits RT @samknight What gin did Tony Blair drink every night then? I doubt it was Gordon’s about 15 hours ago via HouseOfTwits Harvest Retweeted by you and 6 others

724.Blair, p. 658: “For me and for the people, this was sad.” about 15 hours ago via web

725.Blair, p.658: some polling evidence said that r’ship between Blair & people was like a marriage that went wrong. He left v. few indifferent. about 15 hours ago via web

726.Blair, p. 659: “Now, Mrs Thatcher aroused that strength of feeling, but that was about her policies; this was about me as a person.” about 15 hours ago via web

727.@louis_press With the tag, I cd only do 132-character tweets, and the whole thing wd be much harder. I don’t want 2x followers, anyway! about 15 hours ago via web in reply to louis_press

728.Blair, p.659: In 1997, “being in touch” was what mattered to me. In 2007 it was “doing what was right”. To the nation, this seemed arrogant. about 15 hours ago via web

729.Blair, p. 660: “The irony was that when I was being most open about what needed to be done & why, my integrity was most under question.” about 15 hours ago via web

730.Blair, p. 661: “Pleasing all of the people all of the time was not possible; but even if it had been, it was a worthless ambition.” about 15 hours ago via web

731.Blair, p.662, on his final appearance at PMQs. “That is that. The end.” Cameron orchestrates a standing ovation. Blair leaves No. 10 “calm”. about 15 hours ago via web

732.Blair, pp. 661-2: “I had always been fortunate in having a passion bigger than politics, which is religion.” about 15 hours ago via web

733.@ejhchess The German edition of the book is apparently called “Mein Weg”! about 15 hours ago via web in reply to ejhchess

734.@Realsoz Oh, I don’t see why it couldn’t be both! about 15 hours ago via web in reply to Realsoz

Chapter Twenty-Two: Postscript

735.OK-the final disc of Götterdämmerung is on, I’ve poured a glass of wine, cat’s on the cushion next to me & now we’re on to the Postscript… about 15 hours ago via web

736.@sarahditum Yes and no. I think there’s also a recognition that the public once liked him for bad reasons, & now dislike him for good ones! about 15 hours ago via web in reply to sarahditum

737.Blair, p.664: for 20 years after 1989, “the West” “set the agenda to which others reacted”. The “direction of the globe seemed chosen by us” about 15 hours ago via web

738.Blair, p. 664: But since 2007, there has been “something of a revolution in that apparently unassailable order.” about 15 hours ago via web

739.Blair, p. 664: (1) global economic crisis, (2) Afghanistan, (3) President Obama & the “orgy of expectation” he faces, (4) the rise of China. about 15 hours ago via web

740.Blair, pp. 664-5: (5) Brazil & Turkey are assertive. (6) the EU is in crisis. about 15 hours ago via web

741.Blair, p.665: “We thought the triumph of our way of life was inevitable. Now it is in shadow. Our confidence is low, our self-belief shaken” about 15 hours ago via web

742.Blair, p.665: “The future, once so firmly in our grip, seems to have broken loose in search of new masters.” This is the most dreadful guff. about 15 hours ago via web

743.Blair, p.665: “I enjoy my new life much more than my old one.” Africa & faith provide “complete spiritual as well as political satisfaction” about 15 hours ago via web

744.Blair, p. 665: Perhaps because some of the bouleversement is aimed at what I represented in office, this chapter will be a bit of a credo… about 15 hours ago via web

745.@ejhchess I don’t remember that, though I do remember Snoopy trying to read War & Peace at a rate of one word per day. about 15 hours ago via web in reply to ejhchess

746.@PreachyPreach Well, Siegfried is currently warbling with the Rhinemaidens in Act III. I’ve a sneaking suspicion he won’t last much longer. about 15 hours ago via web in reply to PreachyPreach

747.@peterstafford That would be one way of putting it. about 15 hours ago via web in reply to peterstafford

748.Blair, p.665: “To summarise: I profoundly disagree with important parts of the statist, so-called Keynesian response to the economic crisis” about 15 hours ago via web

749.Blair, p. 665: I believe we should be projecting strength & determination abroad, not weakness or uncertainty.” about 15 hours ago via web

750.Blair, p. 665: “Our way of life, our values” are not just “a testament to us as nations” but are “harbingers of human progress”. about 15 hours ago via web

751.Blair, p. 665: “They are not relics of a once powerful politics; they are the living spirit of the optimistic view of human history.” about 14 hours ago via web

752.(Let me just say that I am impressed as to how many of Blair’s sentences, like that one, fit very neatly into a 140-character tweet.) about 14 hours ago via web

753.@PreachyPreach I’m listening to Barenboim too! My favourite is still the old Furtwangler / Milan one, but I don’t always want scratchy mono. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to PreachyPreach

754.@daveweeden “Badly written”–yes, it is. Very badly written. Obviously not ghosted, & I don’t think it was really ever properly copy-edited. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to daveweeden

755.@tomescritt Yes, but only significantly on two occasions, (1) on the occasion of the ending of his marriage and (2) over Iraq. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to tomescritt

756.Blair, p. 666: When the crisis broke, “the state was back in vogue” and “the market-led reforms of the 1980s and 1990s appeared wrong.” about 14 hours ago via web

757.Blair, p. 666: “The economic growth was said to be a delusion based on debt.” Progressive politicians shifted towards interventionism. about 14 hours ago via web

758.Blair, pp. 666-7: But ‘the market’ did not fail, just one bit of it. And govt., regulations, politicians & monetary policy also all failed. about 14 hours ago via web

759.Blair, p.667: We didn’t spot it coming. If we had, we wd have stopped it. And “financial innovation is not bad per se”. V. often it is good. about 14 hours ago via web

760.Blair, pp.667-8: the state was right to intervene at the start of the crisis, but the package of deficit spending & blaming banks was wrong. about 14 hours ago via web

761.Blair, p. 668: The public understands this, which is why they are not voting for lefties. about 14 hours ago via web

762.@hal_berstram I know. It’s all terribly funny. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to hal_berstram

763.Blair, p. 668: Govt. shd stabilise & then get out of the way, so business can lead the recovery. This is also true of the financial sector. about 14 hours ago via web

764.Blair, pp. 668-9: we shd give finance a say in “putting it right”, “deal with it as a partner” to balance “supervision & regulation”. about 14 hours ago via web

765.Blair, p. 669: That we are now anxious about sovereign debt shows “how foolish it is to ignore govt. responsibility for what happened.” about 14 hours ago via web

766.@tomescritt Yes — good spot. I think it’s completely unmentioned. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to tomescritt

767.@daveweeden @sarahditum isn’t the only person who has said they are more likely to buy/read after reading my tweets. about 14 hours ago via web

768.Other things that are not mentioned in this book (as well as Geoff Mulgan): Anthony Giddens, Robin Cook’s death. about 14 hours ago via web

769.@donpaskini Well, @tonyblairoffice is on Twitter. But I should prefer it if Twitter remained a Blair-free zone. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to donpaskini

770.Blair, p.669: “The economic crisis shd have been (and indeed still can be) the moment” when we “accelerate & sharpen reform”, not do Keynes. about 14 hours ago via web

771.Blair, p. 670: “Keynes was a great man”, but “I bet he would be surprised at how his theory is being applied today.” about 14 hours ago via web

772.Blair, p.671: “If we fail to offer a convincing path out of debt, the failure in the global economy of 2010 will plunge us into stagnation.” about 14 hours ago via web

773.Blair, p. 671: What Europe needs is a deficit reduction plan and “fundamental reform of the European social model.” about 14 hours ago via web

774.@tomescritt Hang on–there’s no mention of his resignation speech–just of the formal statements that were swapped at the time he resigned. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to tomescritt

775.Blair, p. 672, turns his attention away from economics to security and the “extremism we fear” which is a “strain within Islam”. about 14 hours ago via web

776.Blair, p.673: “The eradication of that strain is affected by what we outside Islam do, but it can only be eliminated by those within Islam.” about 14 hours ago via web

777.Blair, p. 673: Obama’s Cairo speech was good: “while hanging tough in Afghanistan, he reached out.” We will be, if not humble, respectful. about 14 hours ago via web

778.@joshspero He reports Jonathan Powell mentioning his Messiah complex on p. 157. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to joshspero

779.@peterstafford Not much–but I’m clearer in my head that things would have been much, much better all round if he had resigned in 2001. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to peterstafford

780.@peterstafford He did a lot of good, 1997-2001, however much people like me even then didn’t like him, especially but not only in Ireland. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to peterstafford

781.@peterstafford But when he gets the hang of govt., he accelerates to the right, and then we get all the crazy, violent stuff. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to peterstafford

782.@joshspero Thanks, Josh! And I really hope you’re well (though I rather suspect that you are). about 14 hours ago via web in reply to joshspero

783.@owenhatherley Yes, I know. But this is Tony Blair we are talking about. In particular, it’s post-resignation Blair, in his own dimension. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to owenhatherley

784.Götterdämmerung: Hojotoho! Brünnhilde prepares to ride her horse into the flames. (God, this is a good opera.) about 14 hours ago via web

785.Zurück vom Ring! about 14 hours ago via web

786.And the Rhinemaidens’ theme resumes again: it’s good not to have one’s entire consciousness taken up with the “thoughts” of Tony Blair. about 14 hours ago via web

787.@tomescritt Yes: that period in the 1990s when the Labour front bench, especially Cook, wd run rings round Tories, was v good for morale. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to tomescritt

788.@hal_berstram It may very well be the case that Blair is happier now *because* he lives in this strange fantasy world of his imagining. about 14 hours ago via web in reply to hal_berstram

789.Bugger: the Wagner’s ended, & I still have 18 pages of Blair to go. Time to refill the wine-glass, and put on Turandot, I think. about 14 hours ago via web

790.@hal_berstram One can only hope so. about 13 hours ago via web in reply to hal_berstram

791.Blair, p. 673: The extremists are few, but their narrative of Islamic victimhood “has a far bigger hold”. about 13 hours ago via web

792.@owenhatherley !!! about 13 hours ago via web in reply to owenhatherley

793.@peterstafford Whereas I was in the US, 1995-2000, and returned to the UK just when Blair was getting into gear… about 13 hours ago via web in reply to peterstafford

794.Blair, p. 674: I spend time in Palestine now & I am surprised that it is easier to raise money for the ‘resistance’ than for state-building. about 13 hours ago via web

795.Blair, p. 674: Israel shd “do more to push fwd the necessary changes on the ground”, but Palestinians shd “give up violence” emphatically. about 13 hours ago via web

796.@peterstafford This clearly needs further research. about 13 hours ago via web in reply to peterstafford

797.Blair, p. 674: “Let us be frank” — Iran threatens its Arab neighbours more than it does the US. about 13 hours ago via web

798.Blair, p, 674: But defeating the visible manifestations of extremism is not enough. We need to confront & argue against “the narrative”. about 13 hours ago via web

799.Blair, p. 674: Afghanistan is very simple. “Our enemies think they can outlast us”. We should hold out as long as the threat exists. about 13 hours ago via web

800.Blair, p. 675: “Better red than dead” was “one of the least appealing slogans to the human spirit ever devised.” about 13 hours ago via web

801.Blair, p.675: But what is “the threat”? WMD in the hands of those who wd wage MD. But it’s more than that. It’s also abt destabilising govts about 13 hours ago via web

802.Blair, p. 675: “That’s why Iran matters.” And we must “take on the clerics who foment this extremism” and dismantle their ideology. about 13 hours ago via web

803.@woodscolt79 Yes, they do. They are also a bit bonkers. about 13 hours ago via web in reply to woodscolt79

804.Blair, p. 676: in defeating the extremists, “sometimes it will mean fighting, sometimes it will mean preaching.” Sometimes, peacemaking. about 13 hours ago via web

805.Blair, p. 676: We need the “suasion” of an Obama or Clinton, and the “simplicity in approach” of a Bush or Reagan. about 13 hours ago via web

806.Blair, pp.676-7: Europe & US shd stand together. And “the insouciance towards the decline of the transtlantic r’ship” is “a little shocking” about 13 hours ago via web

807.Blair, p. 677: “I now travel to China frequently. There are many riddles to be solved…” about 13 hours ago via web

808.Blair, p.678: EU needs (1) to “redefine” social model, (2) common defence & (3) energy policies, (4) coordination vs crime, (5) better unis. about 13 hours ago via web

809.Blair, p. 679: Why did Labour lose in 2010? It stopped being New Labour, obvs. about 13 hours ago via web

810.Blair, p. 679: Brown’s initial response to the crash was good. But then “he bought completely the so-called Keynesian thesis.” about 13 hours ago via web

811.Blair, p. 680: What shd we have done? Low taxes, raise VAT, accelerated reform. about 13 hours ago via web

812.Blair, p. 680: Without these, “we broke up our coalition” and lost places like Hove, Hastings, Crawley & Dorset. about 13 hours ago via web

813.Blair, p. 680: “When the Tories brought out 30 chief executives who were against the National Insurance rise, I knew the game was up”. about 13 hours ago via web

814.Blair, p.681: The public “urged” the Lib Dems & Tories “to get together” “in that remarkable way they have” to “elect the govt they wanted.” about 13 hours ago via web

815.Blair, p. 681: Labour mustn’t now “drift off, or even move decisively off, to the left.” about 13 hours ago via web

816.Blair, p. 682: Rather than talking about “putting the recovery at risk”, Labour shd attack Tory cuts on schools, and advocate cuts elswhere. about 13 hours ago via web

817.@daveweeden ?? I think that’s an impossible Q to answer! about 13 hours ago via web in reply to daveweeden

818.@sarahditum I know! And Blair does this again and again, reifiying “the public”, “the people”, “the nation” & giving them collective agency. about 13 hours ago via web in reply to sarahditum

819.Blair, p.682: “In many areas of domestic policy, the Tories will be at their best when they are allowed to get on with it”, e.g., education. about 13 hours ago via web

820.Blair, p.682: But at their worst when policy is a compromise w the Old Labour instincts of the L Dems, or when they support civil liberties. about 13 hours ago via web

821.@daveweeden He says “direct” taxes. But, yes, you’re right. about 13 hours ago via web in reply to daveweeden

822.Blair, pp.682-3: The Tories have options, the L Dems don’t. They can seek their own mandate; the Lib Dems “have to cling on”. (Yes: shrewd.) about 13 hours ago via web

823.Blair, p. 683: Labour must be “credible”. This means being able to attack the govt. from both left and right. about 13 hours ago via web

824.Blair, p. 683: Labour shd not let the unions control policy, and “link up w other modernising progressives across Europe & beyond”. about 13 hours ago via web

825.Blair, pp. 683-4. What makes me a progressive, not a right-winger? “Belief in social justice”. Note that that is a value, not a policy. about 13 hours ago via web

826.@mjturner1975 He says “gradually” raise VAT. So, yes, double it — but slowly. about 13 hours ago via web in reply to mjturner1975

827.Blair, p. 684: some right-wingers share these values & policies. Bush, for example, “doubled the HIV/Aids programme of the US.” about 13 hours ago via web

828.Blair, p. 684: And David Cameron is continuing with the academies. about 13 hours ago via web

829.Blair, p. 685: Obama “reached out & over partisan divisions”. And now “open vs closed” is a new divide that transcends trad left & right. about 13 hours ago via web

830.Blair, p. 685: Progressives shd be proud of efficiency, as well as justice, bc to be efficient is to be just. about 13 hours ago via web

831.Blair, p. 686: We want a smaller, more strategic, more active state. about 13 hours ago via web

832.Blair, p. 686: On expenses, “the savaging of MPs as basically a bunch of wasters & fraudsters was unjust & deeply damaging.” about 12 hours ago via web

833.Blair, pp. 686-7: The problem with MPs is “lack of experience of real life”, the narrow talent pool, and the necessary “obsessive activity”. about 12 hours ago via web

834.@frejan !!! about 12 hours ago via web in reply to frejan

835.@joshspero Well, apart from the last 60 hours spent w Mr Tony, I’m just fine. about 12 hours ago via web in reply to joshspero

836.Blair, p. 687: We need to debate the role of the media, but we don’t bc the media resents the debate and harms those who engage in it. about 12 hours ago via web

837.Blair, p. 688: Democracy is best, but we shdn’t be smug. We need more private sector skills in the Civil Service. about 12 hours ago via web

838.Blair, p. 689: the Israel / Palestine problem is a “reality” problem, “not one resolvable merely by negotiation.” about 12 hours ago via web

839.Blair, p. 689. “The Israeli reality is security. The Palestinian reality is occupation.” about 12 hours ago via web

840.Blair, p. 690: I am more interested in religion than politics, but the work of my Faith Foundation covers both. We use new technology. about 12 hours ago via web

841.Blair, p.690: In Africa, we work w the Presidents of Rwanda, Sierra Leone & Liberia “to help them build basic effective levers of delivery.” about 12 hours ago via web

842.Blair, pp. 690-1: “I work on business solutions to climate change”, to achieve a “low-carbon economy”. Business as partner, not as victim. about 12 hours ago via web

843.@krs133 I think you’re making the mistake of thinking that anything Mr Blair says in this last bit has any point of contact with the world. about 12 hours ago via web in reply to krs133

844.@johnbrissenden My goodness. Such enthusiasm. Thanks! about 12 hours ago via web in reply to johnbrissenden

845.@hughgreen I’m so sorry. Just “unfollow” me & go & have a drink. about 12 hours ago via web in reply to hughgreen

846.Blair, p. 691: “So that’s my new life. What makes me optimistic? People. Since leaving office, I have learned that people are the hope.” about 12 hours ago via web

847.Blair, p. 691: Young people are even more “the hope”. The ones who work for me are just great. As are young Israelis & Palestinians. about 12 hours ago via web

848.Blair, p. 691: But is my journey “one of triumph of the person over the politics, or of the politics over the person”? It is not clear. about 12 hours ago via web

849.Phew. That’s that. about 12 hours ago via web

850.Apologies to anyone who didn’t want so much Blair in their Twitterfeed (and, my goodness, I understand only too well). about 12 hours ago via web

851.Thanks to the rest of you who sustained me along the way: cdn’t have done it w/out you. (Whether it was worth doing is another Q altogether) about 12 hours ago via web

852.@Pam_Nash Yes. Even I’m not tweeting the fucking index. about 12 hours ago via web in reply to Pam_Nash

853.@sarahditum Thanks! about 12 hours ago via web in reply to sarahditum

854.@omywow Well, goodness, I do hope no-one *else* bothered to tweet Blair’s book! about 10 hours ago via web in reply to omywow

855.@briandsloan Thanks! about 10 hours ago via web in reply to briandsloan

856.@owenhatherley Thanks! about 10 hours ago via web in reply to owenhatherley

857.@sbrown420 Maybe a review. Or something on my blog, at any rate. Thanks for the kind words. about 10 hours ago via web in reply to sbrown420

25 thoughts on “Tweeting Blair’s Journey”

  1. Yet again, thanks Chris. How can anyone say that Blair can’t write when in Chapter 1 he uses ‘enormity’ correctly? No wonder the pedantic Oliver Kamm is an admirer.

    I think “Progressives shd be proud of efficiency, as well as justice, bc to be efficient is to be just” is the most bonkers epigram I’ve ever read. But the whole last chapter seems to depart from what I consider sanity.

    For me, the revelation is this. I’ve always been susceptible to Blair’s charm. When he’s on telly, being ‘sincere’ I’ve wanted to give him another chance, and thought something like, “perhaps he really means it; perhaps he’s a good bloke.” I think this book kills all hope of that, much more than Campbell’s diaries could. He seems personally much more horrible than I imagined. And his taste in people! Berlusconi, Bush, Bono. He’s just attracted by knob-heads.

  2. “Progressives shd be proud of efficiency, as well as justice, bc to be efficient is to be just” is my paraphrase, I’m afraid. I mean, it more or less captures what he’s on about. But sometimes it is hard squeezing Blair’s thoughts into 140 characters.

  3. Oh, I don’t doubt that. But Thatcher was big on efficiency too, and I’m not sure that efficiency belongs in the real world; it’s a measure of wasted energy in engineering. Also there’s the famous line (from, I think, David Ogilvy) about wasting half the advertising budget, but not knowing which half. I think that’s not uncommon in business, so why should the public sector be different? I agree that inefficiency (waste) is a bad thing, but the politicians who obsess about efficiency are those who only know the price of everything…

  4. Thanks for this, Chris.

    As well as earlier discussed issue of whether Blair is straightforwardly thick or not (conclusion: not straightforwardly, at least in some senses) your tweeting has confirmed for me what I have suspected for a few years now: that Blair is quite seriously deluded and lives in a world of his own imagining.

    Which, I suppose, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. As a rationalisation for his own actions, and a way of blocking-out the intense and abiding hatred he arouses in people – this, remember, being a man who above all seems to want to be adored (hence perhaps the constant personification of “The People” you note) – constructing a fantasy world in which to reside ranks as an exceptionally good coping mechanism.

    The more important question, I suppose, is when the fantasy set in, and how much of his in-office policy decisions can be traced back to it.

  5. Yes — I think he has become a fantasist. He says at the end that he’s much happier now he’s out of office, and obviously part of that is that he doesn’t have to deal with Gordon Brown or the British media every day, but I also wonder whether part of it is that he isn’t so constrained by the real world any more, and so can just live in a fantasy of his own construction.

    The final chapter of the book seems pretty delusional to me — as Blair insists he is “progressive” while defending an exceptionally right-wing approach to dealing with the economic crisis which involves low direct taxes on rich people, allowing banks to write new rules for regulation, jacking up indirect consumption taxes, & so on.

  6. To some extent, of course, that may be a logical end-point for those taking seriously the non-concept of “progressivism”, but I get what you mean.

    Though Blair’s infatuation with the wealthy must play a part too; banker-worship fits his much noted adoration of the filthy rich and his treating wealth as an unambiguous signal of talent and merit.

    Talking of which, does the money-worship thing come through much in the book?

  7. Not really. There’s a remark early on about rich people — but he’s basically silent about his friendships with the very, very rich, and his boots-filling activities since leaving office. When he writes about right-wing European leaders, for example, he writes more warmly about Sarkozy & Merkel than he does about Berlusconi (though he’s respectful about Berlusconi) — he doesn’t talk about his habit of freebie holidays from the rich, famous & powerful, for example.

  8. Thanks, Chris, I don’t tweet and have read the whole horrible thing in one go here. Well, I haven’t, you have. Now I can walk past Waterstones and ignore the window it’s in. Not that I was going to buy it but the sight of it made me feel angry and uncomfortable. You are a true hero and I salute the bassoon of your endeavour.

  9. I hope you won’t be content with the enormity of your laurels while Mandelson, Bush and other paradigms of kaleidoscopoclasty are still out there waiting.

  10. Thanks so much for this, Chris. I’m not sure I’d ever realized quite how thoroughly right-wing TB is/was, despite disliking most things he did and said. But I’d not realized, either, how much he seems to be affected by public criticism. A very public hate campaign seems in order, with a view to making him finally crack up completely and let that p.372-ish intense psychological guilt take over…

  11. While he’s a serious case of conceit and arrogance, surely his views are nothing out of the ordinary for anybody whose background is public school-Oxbridge-professional career and sees nothing unusual or strange about this?

  12. Just read the whole post – many thanks for such public service. Sadly, it confirms much of what I suspected about Blair for most of his time of office, e.g. the admiration of right-wing politicians, his contempt for the party, his philosophical illiteracy, but above all the idea that he exists in a ‘new’ political paradigm outside/beyond/above/whatever ‘left’ and ‘right’ – even if almost all his ideas and friends and allies come from the right. In short: Blair thinks it’s his planet, and we’d all be better off living in it.

  13. redpesto: Yes.

    Josh: Thanks — Much alcohol went into the production of Tweeting Blair, both during and afterwards. And you’re absolutely right: this is obviously not a ghosted work. One of the curious things about it that doesn’t really come through in the tweeted version is that it hasn’t obviously been copy-edited terribly thoroughly, either: there are lots of sentences with pronouns of ambiguous reference; things that were singular in one sentence silently become plural in the next, and so on. Which, of course, fits very well with Blair’s old rhetorical style known as Politics Without Verbs: just play fast and loose with certain bits of ordinary syntax, and you can inject just the right level of vagueness into your words.

  14. I read this amusing feed down to “calls Clinton ‘a brilliant thinker,'” at which point I laughed aloud and stopped reading. The Churchill quote about the two steeples did not ring a bell w/ me (I blame, conveniently, my American education).

    Re copy-editing: copy-editing at some university presses seems to have become almost nonexistent, but in the case of a big commercial book like this you’d expect it to be copy-edited at least to some extent; maybe he just insisted on the book going straight from his draft into print?

  15. Thanks!

    What a horrible, horrible man. The bit on Keynes was especially depressing, but good god new labour, like Thatcher, really set the standard for US subsequent performance.

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