Comment at end
6th July 2010
Update: Always quick off the mark John Rentoul has mentioned this at his blog. Wonder when the rest of the press will notice?
THE A JOURNEY
Original picture on Amazon advertising Tony Blair’s upcoming memoir –
Present title at Amazon –
THE A JOURNEY
So, when was this title changed to use the indefinite article? I can’t be sure, but it would have been quite recently. Discounting the “working title” idea – that’s for when one is writing, not advertising – the pertinent question is ‘Why’ was it changed?
My answer? When others on that journey decided to (rush) publish their own versions of that momentous and at times motion-sickness inducing trip.
Peter Mandelson’s ‘The Third Man’ is due for release in SIX DAYS time. And who knows why Gordon Brown has only been in parliament on two days since the general election!?
You can pre-order Tony Blair’s ‘The Journey’ here due for release on 2nd September.
When announced here at Tony Blair’s website on 4th March this year it was then clearly titled “The Journey”. Perhaps they need to update this information.
DELUGE OF ‘POWER’ BOOKS?
I am in the middle of Alastair Campbell’s Dairies right now – ‘Prelude to Power’ – available here – Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol 1
I’m assuming, of course, but if Campbell, as Blair’s former head of communications had been asked about this title change, I think he’d have said, “For fuck’s sake, Tony!” … [Apologies, but I’m guided by the sometimes flowery language in Campbell’s book] … “Don’t change it just so that Peter’s not annoyed! You’ve done enough of that already! And look where it got us!”
Assuming I’m right about Campbell’s likely opinion, if I had been asked, I’d have agreed with Alastair.
Tony Blair’s “journey” was the political journey of the last 15-20 years. From ‘Bambi’ to ‘war criminal’; from lightweight ‘pretty boy’ to international statesman/celebrity; from the most loved to (arguably) the most hated politician of recent decades. No-one else, not Peter Mandelson or Gordon Brown, John Prescott or Alastair Campbell, Robin Cook or even Cherie is in the same class of “change maker”, even if for much of that period they were all, supposedly, in the same boat.
So if Mr Blair did decide to alter and seemingly weaken his memoir’s title of his own volition and not on the advice of his publishers or others, and that too is always possible, it may also confirm what Campbell said in his own book: that Blair often allowed lesser-abled political animals to push him off-course because of his own inclusive instincts and his high regard for their individual capabilities and value. And that tendency to inclusivity and the ‘mistake’ of constantly assuring others of their importance to him were both central to his inability to get these particular ego-centric oarsmen rowing in the same direction. In other words sacking not backing should have been his course of action. Or, to continue metaphorically – throwing overboard.
If Campbell was even half-right in his thoughts on the limitations of Blair’s leadership style (at least in his pre-prime ministerial years – probably later too) some people will use those thoughts to confirm their own prejudices – “weak”, “malleable” etc. For me it means the opposite. It would, wouldn’t it?
It proves that then and even now, in his domestic political afterlife, he still wishes not to upset colleagues. He is permitting them the strength of integrity in their own memories and the space to put these thoughts on record without claiming the moral high ground as his and his alone.
In other words he is still a team player, and not the autocratic leader that many would wish to have us think. Thus, Tony Blair actually has a political afterlife, while others on his journey may find trouble finding such high-powered roles.
[More on these political biographies to follow]