Adam Lang IS Tony Blair. So, will Cherie sue Polanski & Harris?

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    Ban Blair-Baiting


    7th April 2010

    UPDATE: Fellow Blairite Julie has just informed me that another of the “we few, we happy view” band of brothers and sisters John Rentoul has numbered my question in his famous list. (It’s 270, not 384 as I plumped for here.)

    Rentoul: ‘And this allows me to catch up with number 270, asked by Blair Supporter about the opening of the Blair-hating film, The Ghost Writer: Will Cherie sue Roman Polanski and Robert Harris? Not because the portrayal of her and her husband in the film is not defamatory, but because she is not mad.’

    John – you have a concise and effective way of summarising.



    Tony Blair, the former PM and The Ghost (Writer) Ewan McGregor, (mock-up.)


    While Britain’s head is buried in the domestic politics of the election on May 6th(don’t mention the war) – the rest of the world goes about its wider political interests.

    The state of play in the Middle East and in Obama’s America will continue to top most of the world’s search engine queries.  But there is something else going around the world of serious importance, much as it shouldn’t be. And it will hang around for years, decades, even centuries, much as it shouldn’t. What exactly? Books and then films which claim to be documenting history – docu-fiction. Topmost of these right now is the Harris/Polanski invention – The Ghost.

    It seems to be accepted that in a free world this kind of “writing” is no more than opinion/interpretation. Made and meant without agenda or rancour but only for entertainment, it is deemed quite acceptable, even when about living people.  Without agenda and rancour are the operative words. I haven’t read the book or watched the film and have no intention of spending money on such biased money-grubbing exercises. If you are in Dublin tonight you might be able to see this free. Wish I was there.  I could just about stretch to ‘FREE’ for this.

    Since this film is clearly ALL about Tony Blair –


    Simple. Tony Blair won’t sue because as a politician (even former) he has no human rights. Human rights exist to protect the rest of us from politicians, don’t you know? Never the other way round.

    Still, it’s worth asking why those whose names and reputations are blighted by this sort of offshoot of the mad liberal anti-war press never seem to stand up to say “enough”.  Later I will look at Cherie and the ‘will she/won’t she sue?’ question.

    But first, it’s also worth asking why the question of this kind of propaganda is never addressed by the mainstream press. The present climate – anti-Iraq war, anti-politician, anti-everything and anything? Perhaps.  Some political writers of quality have reviewed the film, but even they do not seem to realise that their reviews provide more questions than answers.

    For instance, for the earth-shattering epitome of a statement of the obvious this is it: “Charles Moore finds that the spirit of Tony Blair pervades The Ghost Writer, Roman Polanski’s new film.”

    What, Mr Moore? You mean wheels are round?

    In his article – “The Ghost Writer: The secret life of the man who wasn’t there” – Moore says this (my bolding inside Moore’s parentheses):

    “The story is very enjoyable for apparently conflicting reasons. On the one hand, it is “realistic”, in the sense that it is extremely close to real events and real people (if I were Cherie Booth QC, I would ask my colleagues in the field of libel law to see the film now). At the film’s special screening last week, which I attended, the presence of Lord Mandelson of Hartlepool and Foy (Foy, by the way, is part of his title, not the name of his dog) provided a sort of manufacturer’s guarantee that we are dealing with real-life high (and low) politics.”

    [I too wrote about Lord Mandelson’s attendance at the British preview of The Ghost.]

    Moore’s ‘conflicting reasons’? It seems it’s in the unlikelihood of the tale and also in its conclusion. The tale is more than just unlikely. It is fantasy. As for the ending – it’s hardly a secret. We all know that Blair … sorry, Lang gets his bloody comeuppance. But sometimes knowingly, sometimes unthinkingly our careless press and book & movie-writers make the second possibility real. They are as responsible as any Middle East war for the burgeoning costs of Mr Blair’s personal security. It is said to be somewhere between £2m and £6,000,000 per year.

    Excerpt: ‘Dai Davies, a former head of Scotland Yard’s Royalty Protection Squad, said: “Because of his role in talking Britain into conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, the potential threat he faces is very real.’

    Mr Davies might also have added that Mr Blair probably feels safer in the Middle East than in “liberal” Britain.

    Mr Moore’s two conflicting reasons for enjoying this film deserve further investigation.  Moore lightly describes the ending as being ‘highly’ and ‘particularly’ improbable, even moreso it would seem than is the tale in relation to the real story of the real former PM:

    “On the other hand, the tale is highly improbable, particularly in its denouement. Robert Harris – to whose book the director, Roman Polanski, is admirably faithful – has John Buchan’s gift of telling a story which could not possibly have happened, yet feels highly authentic.”

    In the humble opinion of a Blair-watcher/Blair-haters watcher, I think that Mr Moore is wrong in the rather facile way he dismisses the ‘improbable’ elements of the story. The improbability seen through the fiction/faction eyes of the viewer is actually of no consequence. Largely thanks to the opining of the press and the liberal literati, particularly here in Britain, these unlikelihoods hardly even register.  Instead the likelihood registers. Half of those interested enough to follow this disparagement of Tony Blair are expectantly awaiting such a denouement, tongues lolling. It could be argued that through the vehicle of such as this film there is almost an inevitability of tragic consequences.


    If you dismiss this and are of the opinion that a film representation is of little significance, Moore also says –

    “Instead of being undermined by improbability, reality becomes heightened by it.” And – “So who, apart from the ghost writer, is the ghost? The answer is Tony Blair, and not only in the obvious sense that he is the thinly veiled subject of the story. “

    And the story behind the story? That senior politicians (sometimes known as “war criminals”, untried of course, but that’s another angle to the ‘point’ of the story) can run but they can’t hide from so-called “justice”.  Somewhere, somehow, they will “account” or die trying not to, whichever comes first.

    I contend that it is deeply shameful that writers use their privileged space in the papers to promote their own thoughts without considering how they themselves are stoking fires. For instance, Moore continues –

    “But it turns out that Brosnan’s style fits the predicament of his character. His Lang/Blair is not a man who really decides things, but one to whom things happen. He is famous and controversial, but oddly passive. Although he sometimes gets angry under the extraordinary pressures that build up on him, he is, for the most part, almost detached – vain enough to care a bit about how he might appear in his memoirs, but not really all that interested. He retains an easy charm, an almost mocking vagueness.

    It is the people around him – Amelia and, above all, Ruth, furiously jealous of Anna, and furious, indeed, about everything – who are so worked up. Lang/Blair is almost disembodied, the ghost of what he was.

    What was he? That too, is not made clear. Robert Harris is one of many on the centre-Left who started by believing that Tony Blair was the shining light of their generation, and later came to see him merely as its shooting star.

    But neither novel nor film version is an act of out-and-out revenge. As the story builds up, you expect that Lang/Blair is about to be exposed as the greatest traitor in British political history. I shan’t give away the ending, but that expectation is not fulfilled. Instead, you feel sorry for this trapped man – the object of so much passion for and against, and yet, when you get close to him, not quite there. Was the real Tony Blair always a sort of ghost?”

    NOT “an act of out-and-out revenge”? What was it then? If the ‘dark’ hero/villain is not “the greatest traitor in British political history” that’s only because he is killed by the father of a dead soldier. So, is it in reality a kind of tragic love story? Yeah. Right.

    As for this – “Was the real Tony Blair always a sort of ghost?”

    If so, no problem. He’s only ‘dead’ … again.

    These remarks point to subtly disturbing travesties of truth. They are fundamentally unfair and, yes, I repeat, dangerous.  Although not seriously vicious – not vicious at all in Moore’s case – it is still one of the most intentional disparagements of the real Mr Blair that I have recently read, its subtlety being its shield.  (More from Moore here at the Telegraph.)

    And another thing …


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    10. Andrew Says:

      I can see the logic behind many of your points, but as a member of the film industry myself I would like to highlight your assumption that the majority of the cast and crew (and, dare I say, the writers working for a producer) automatically agree with the viewpoint of the film just because they are in it. Unless this is a critique of capitalism, I’m sure you will agree that most ventures that require investment are required to produce profit – films are no different. A screenwriter labours under a producer, unless they are rich enough to finance the film themselves. A director takes on a story with interesting characters that will hopefully win him awards – much like you might try hard at any job in order to earn favour, and not get fired. And the cast take roles in this high-profile project to boost their own careers.

      Gone are the days when filmmakers were artists – when millions are spent to produce a film, there can be no escaping the investors’ demand for a return on their money. Contrary to the belief of many, I have never known a professional actor turn down a role in a high-profile international film, regardless of the role. People have played Hitler in movies – and yet we can’t seriously accuse them of being Nazi sympathisers.

      So whilst your viewpoints interested me, I think a better approach to raise your arguments would be to examine them against society. We come down to the question of “Does media influence society, or does society influence media?”, and as a producer I’d have to go with the latter. We don’t make movies that make statements (unless I wake up one morning and want to waste a few million on an idea of my own), we make movies that people want to see. Does that mean society in general is anti-Blair, for example? Perhaps, perhaps not.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Thank you , Andrew, for your thoughtful comment. I too have been involved in the film industry, and everything you say above I largely agree with. Largely. Anything I have been involved with I find that the production company, cast and crew may start off lukewarm to the story but in the end are invariably swept along with the mood music.

        The only reason I am very critical of Brosnan is that he actually DOES accuse Blair of all the things of which the film accuses him.

        I think I added a link to his opinion above (sorry, will have to check – I wrote this post some time ago.)

        It’s always possible that Polanski does not agree with Harris, of course, on the guilt or otherwise of Blair. This film managed to win Polanski several awards from within the European film industry, so he knew what he was doing. Having said that I’d like to see some numbers on the actual box office take for this movie. It is absolutely true that when I went to see it at my local cinema, I was one of five in the entire audience.

        But the politicially left luvvies loved it and awarded Polanski for it.

        As for Harris. Well, he’s a whole different matter. He says he wrote the book without thinking of Tony Blair. (Not convinced, I must say.) But, it seems to me that when Blair’s predicament after Iraq with the press and therefore much of the public became clear he saw the main chance and so amended and finished his book. Then he chased up Polanski to get him to turn it into a movie. Harris’s opinions on his old “friend” and the Iraq decision are well known. I find Harris by far the most despicable of all the characters involved in this “Ghost Writer” book/film.

        You say:

        “Does media influence society, or does society influence media?”, and as a producer I’d have to go with the latter.

        I’ve had that kind of debate frequently with friends in the industry and others who despair at the low calibre of much we subject our eyes and ears to on the box. You’re largely right when it comes to light material. Soaps, nosey-parker stuff, big brother juvenilia, facile quiz shows, no-talent talent shows – all of these, the main money-spinners are what the audience wants. (I hardly watch TV these days, btw!)

        It’s on factual programming with wide appeal, with detailed information and anything requiring political study and balance that we are useless at. Probably because it only has appeal if it offers a politician’s neck and a noose to go round it.

        Society asks to see things confirming the “evil” of Blair and the Iraq war, and so we show them. This “Mad Dogs” thing on, I think C4, is typical of this thinking. You can hear the production company discussing it – “right we need an evil-looking guy in a mask who kills people”.

        A no-brainer, as our American friends would say: Tony Blair.

        Having said that I do believe firmly that the media – the news media, press and broadcasting DOES clearly influence society’s thinking on current affairs. You only have to spend any time on comment pages to see how easily commenters describe Blair as a lying, warmongering war criminal to know that they didn’t all wake up one morning with a universal epiphany! They got it from the press, the all-pervasive conduit for our information. The trancriber of our “evidence”; our opinion-makers.

        I’m sure there is a germ of a movie out there (perhaps even inside my own head) to be made on the good that is Tony Blair. Unfortunately, the only time that’ll be of interest is likely to be when he’s six feet under. Even then, I’m not so sure.

        “The evil that men do lives after them … the good is oft interr’d with their bones”.

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