Tony Blair's A Journey, and the Return of Demonic Blair
The former prime minister's memoir.
But what does that compare to chants of “Bliar”?
The saucy revelations in A Journey are in keeping with what any tabloid reader might have surmised over the past decade. The “TBGBs” was the name given for the Blair/Brown relationship, which alternated between spousal and fratricidal, so the notion that the more growling chancellor of the Exchequer would effectively blackmail the man who outfoxed him for the Labour leadership over a pension overhaul scheme seems remarkably anti-climactic in retrospect. Much more interesting is the claim that, of the two men, it was Brown who had the real ear for politics while Blair was more involved in the technocratic nitty-gritty of policymaking. The Wall Street Journal has celebrated his advocacy of a non-Keynesian solution to the economic crisis and if this book is to be believed, it was his idea to grant the Bank of England monetary independence in the early days after the 1997 landslide election that swept the Tories out of power, a signature reform then owned by Brown. Can it really have been Blair’s robotic number two who accidentally alighted upon what was to become a principal slogan for the Third Way: “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”?
As for the haters, their comeuppance has been stark. Not only are the ravest reviews of A Journey coming from ruling Conservative quarters (it was almost certainly Michael Gove, the current secretary of state for Education, who told the Independent’s John Rentoul, “if it were possible for the ardour of my Blairism to deepen, it has done so”) but Blair admirers can still turn up in the strangest places. Waiting for my coffee at a Starbucks near Kings Cross the other day, I noticed a multi-pierced barista pointing to the copy of the memoir tucked under my arm. “Just ordered mine off Amazon. Can’t wait, mate.”