Tony Blair’s Journey – His recent autobiography
In the beginning I was a big fan of Tony Blair and what he stood for – like many others. I was excited about the possibilities of New Labour and did not mourn the passing of the harsh Maggie Thatcher years or the limping governments of John Major.
I felt that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. I felt it then and I feel it now. My worry from the start was not so much about its legitimacy – because you could honestly argue either way – but of its conduct and likely consequences. Living as we do in Dublin – a mere 100 miles away from Belfast – where for thirty years we watched sectarian hatred of almost medieval barbarity and ignorance with a mixture of dismay and disbelief – gives us perhaps a unique and privileged position to survey the follies of colonization and in particular its demise.
And so when Blair left office under a cloud it seemed as if a part of us died. Like Clinton, who also fell under a cloud while in office, Blair was a young man with lots to do and to offer. It seemed however as if his future lay behind him.
I bought the autobiography for a number of reasons. In the first instance all the profits go to the cause of the soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Tony Blair (TB) I do not believe they have lost their lives or suffered their injuries in vain. I think they have fought to make this world a safer place. I have huge respect for people who died to save my life or my freedom. I have always contributed to the poppy days in Dublin.
I enjoyed the book immensely. It is the most candid autobiography I have ever read. It is also one of the best written. It has all the hallmarks of someone who spent a lot of time and thought marshalling his ideas. He gives great insights into British and international figures and the background to so many world events.
I was captivated by its honesty. Of course it is told from one person’s point of view (it cannot be other!). He argues his beliefs and actions with passion and reason and shares with us his continuing doubts on so many issues. The account is truly human.
Above all, I enjoyed the ideas. I particularly enjoyed his description of how New Labour was conceived and developed. I had forgotten the agenda for change it brought in. It is interesting that Blair suggests that Labour will have to revisit the well of New Labour if it is win an election again. I found the section on Northern Ireland fascinating, particularly the chapter on the Good Friday Agreement.
While I don’t agree with much of what he has to say about Iraq, I nevertheless was impressed by his presentation of his point of view. In a world where we suffer from the new tyranny of the press it is interesting to be afforded a different side of things, albeit necessarily a personal side.
Anyone who is interested in British or World politics should read this book. It should be compulsory reading for all students of politics. It is interesting and provocative about where we should go from now. For sheer readability it is impossible to better Alan Clarkes Dairies, but for a thought provoking and fascinating account of one man and the world he inhabited 1997 – 2007, it is unlikely to be ever improved on.. Everyone should read it, particularly his critics!