Blair’s book ruffles feathers

It’s
a story as old as history. Two young dreamers meet. They share the same hopes,
the same ambitions. Their friendship blossoms into something rather deeper.
Lovers, of sorts. Success comes their way in bucket-loads.

Then
it all goes very, very sour, and the accusations fly thick and fast.
Intimidation, lies, disaster.

As
kiss-and-tell memoirs go, Tony Blair’s new book – “A Journey” – is a real
smacker. (It’s also estimated to have made Mr. Blair an estimated advance of around
$7 million.)

It’s
not that it tells us many things we didn’t already know. It’s his candidness.

On
sex scandals, on the Royals, on his need for a strong drink or two.

The
Queen was “haughty,” Princess Diana “a manipulator,”
President Clinton not “so very different from most men,” he writes.

And
behind the curtains of Downing Street a war was going on.

Not
between Mr. Blair and his wife but between the Prime Minister and his powerful
Chancellor Gordon Brown, the man who eventually succeeded him.

They
were, Blair writes, “a bit like lovers.”

We
all knew about the rivalry between the two, and the deal they made 16 years ago
that Blair would get the first crack at the top job.

Blair
says he knew it would test them: “I was scared of the unpleasantness, the
possible brutality of it, the sadness, actually, of two friends becoming
foes.”

But
not that scared, at least not any more. Just like any other couple whose love
turns sour, Blair’s book delivers some brutal views on Brown that will likely
finish their friendship for good.

He
says he knew Brown would be a “disaster” as Prime Minister.

His
rival, while “brilliant and strong,” was “maddening” and
“difficult” with “zero emotional intelligence.”

But
he didn’t sack him because it was better to keep him “inside and contained”
rather than “outside and let loose.”

The
war gets its own chapter, in which Blair admits to shedding tears over the loss
of life. But he maintains the decision to invade was right.

He
talks too of arguing with Princess Diana a month before she died, of the night
of the accident and his subsequent uncomfortable meetings with the Queen.

“I
spoke, with passion, of the need to accept life’s lessons,” he writes.
“I worried she found me presumptuous – she was a little haughty.”

Blair
describes the 691-page memoir as a “letter to the country I love.”

Though
it’s not, he admits, an objective account.

“There
is only one person who can write an account of what it is like to be the human
being at the centre of that history, and that’s me.”

Maybe.
But Gordon Brown has yet to get around to writing his. Bring it on.

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