Tony Blair Memoirs: the tears, fears, regrets & drink behind the doors of Number 10

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    1st September 2010

    Martin Kettle’s World Exclusive Interview: ‘… he felt “sick, a mixture of anger and anguish” when he was asked by the Iraq inquiry chair, Sir John Chilcot, in January if had regrets over Iraq. “Do they really suppose I don’t care, don’t feel, don’t regret with every fibre of my being the loss of those who died?”‘

    BLAIR MEMOIRS  – HE FEELS, CRIES AND DRINKS

    Click to read

    WOW! You don’t expect us to believe he’s HUMAN?

    The Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow seems to be doing some index-aided fast reading of his early press copy of ‘A Journey’ and is topping up live through the day. Quotes, not g&t, as far as I now.

    EXTRACTS FROM TONY BLAIR’S WEBSITE DEDICATED TO HIS MEMOIRS

    INTRODUCTION: (2 pages) “The conservative/progressive rebel” and election winner who “loves Britain” and is “still learning”, reprimands by implication, his successor:

    “Finally, the book is something of a letter (extended!) to the country I love. I won three general elections. Up to then, Labour had never even won two successive full terms. The longest Labour government had lasted six years. This lasted thirteen. It could have, as I say in the final chapter, gone on longer, had it not abandoned New Labour.” […] “It is true that my head can sometimes think conservatively especially on economics and security; but my heart always beats progressive, and my soul is and always will be that of a rebel.”

    On Iraq – there are 6 pages. First page pasted here, below. Last page ends with “keep an open mind”:

    “As I thought on how to answer the question put to me at the end of my evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry
    into the Iraq War in January 2010, I felt sick, a mixture of anger and anguish. ‘Do you have any regrets?’
    This wasn’t a question being asked or answered in the quiet reflections of the soul; not something that could
    be weighed, considered and explained with profundity and penetrating clarity or even an easy honesty.
    It was a headline question. It had to have a headline answer. Answer ‘yes’ and I knew the outcome: ‘BLAIR
    APOLOGISES FOR WAR ’, ‘AT LAST HE SAYS SORRY’. Choose a variant. The impact would be the
    same. Those who had opposed the war would rejoice; those who had supported it would be dismayed,
    imagining their support and in some cases their sacrifice had been in vain. Answer ‘no’ and you seem like
    some callous brute, indifferent to the suffering or perhaps worse, stubbornly resistant, not because of
    strength but because you know nothing else to do.
    So I said I took responsibility, accepting the decision had been mine and avoiding the headline that would
    have betrayed. However, it was an answer that was incomplete.
    The anger was at being put in a position in an inquiry that was supposed to be about lessons learned, but
    had inevitably turned into a trial of judgement, and even good faith; and in front of some of the families of
    the fallen, to whom I wanted to reach out, but knew if I did so, the embrace would be immediately misused
    and misconstrued. But the anger was selfish, trivial – comparatively at any rate – and transient.
    The anguish remains. The principal part of that is not selfish. Some of it is, to be sure. Do they really
    suppose I don’t care, don’t feel, don’t regret with every fibre of my being the loss of those who died? And
    not just British soldiers but those of other nations, most of all of course the Americans, but also the
    Japanese and Dutch and Danes and Estonians and Spanish and Italians and all the others of our coalition.
    And the Iraqis themselves, and not just those who were the casualties of our forces in war, but those who
    died at the hands of others, whose deaths we failed to prevent. The diplomats, like the wonderful Sergio
    Vieira de Mello, who gave their lives in a cause they never advocated. The random casualties of the
    vagaries of war, like Ken Bigley, and the private security guards taken hostage with Peter Moore.
    To be indifferent to that would be inhuman, emotionally warped. But it is not that accusation that causes the
    anguish.
    The anguish arises from a sense of sadness that goes beyond conventional description or the stab of
    compassion you feel on hearing tragic news. Tears, though there have been many, do not encompass it. I
    feel desperately sorry for them, sorry for the lives cut short, sorry for the families whose bereavement is
    made worse by the controversy over why their loved ones died, sorry for the utterly unfair selection that the
    loss should be theirs. Why did it have to be their child, their husband, their family, at that time, in that place,
    on that journey or mission or appointment?
    The reason fate could make that choice derived from my decision. But then there were the myriad chance
    factors that conspired to bring about the circumstance of each life lost.
    The anguish arises from an urgency to act, to commit, not to feel, but to do.
    I am now beyond the mere expression of compassion. I feel words of condolence and sympathy to be
    entirely inadequate. They have died and I, the decision-maker in the circumstances that led to their deaths,
    still live.
    I used the word ‘responsibility’, incomplete though it is, with deliberation.
    I can’t regret the decision to go to war for the reason I will give. I can say that never did I guess the
    nightmare that unfolded, and that too is part of the responsibility. But the notion of ‘responsibility’ indicates
    not a burden discharged but a burden that continues. Regret can seem bound to the past. Responsibility has
    its present and future tense.”

    _______________

    On Gordon Brown there is only one page, and focuses on why Blair never sacked him. Nothing too horrifying, nor about “blackmail”. The Telegraph clearly has read the book, or is fibbing.

    On Northern Ireland (11 pages)

    On Reform (7 pages)

    __________

    THE PRESS’S TAKE

    Brown – blackmail over “cash for honours”

    The Daily Telegraph focuses on the former Prime Minister's suspicion Gordon Brown orchestrated the investigation into the cash-for-honours scandal.

    The Guardian has this: Blair – “I knew Gordon Brown would be a disaster”

    Tony Blair came to the view that Gordon Brown would be a disaster as prime minister and that Labour could not win the 2010 general election. “It was never going to work,” Blair writes of Brown’s three years in No 10, arguing that the former chancellor had “zero emotional intelligence” and fatally abandoned the New Labour formula.”

    From Martin Kettle's Guardian article. (Picture by David Levene)

    More from Kettle interview

    ‘In his book he writes that he wanted to reach out to the families of those who had been killed in Iraq. “I am now beyond the mere expression of compassion,” he writes. “I feel words of condolence and sympathy to be entirely inadequate. They have died, and I, the decision-maker in the circumstances that led to their deaths, still live,” the book continues.

    “How could you possibly not feel sadness at the lives that had been lost?” Blair said this week. “How could you possibly not? But … when I use the word responsibility, I mean it in a profound way. I say in the book the term responsibility has its future as well as past tense. And that’s what I feel. It’s not a coincidence I am devoting a large part of my time now to the Middle East or to religious interfaith.”

    […]

    Blair may or may not have ever gone away. But he is certainly back.’

    The Guardian also has this on Diana, Alastair Campbell, Afghanistan, sex and politics and his own drinking – the last of these will surprise many. Perhaps it shouldn’t.

    Sky News has this report with video: ‘And on the subject of Iraq, he tells how he refused to say sorry during his appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry because it would have dominated headlines.

    But in response to his critics, he writes: “Do they really suppose I don’t care, don’t feel, don’t regret with every fibre of my being the loss of those who died?”‘

    The rat-faced Daily Mail mocks his “gut-churning passage that will surely deeply offend the relatives of the dead, in which in florid phrases, he reveals he has cried ‘many tears’ over their loss.”

    The Telegraph – Blair admits he did not understand Islam at the time of 9/11

    Tonight, Wednesday, at 7:00pm on BBC2, Andrew Marr will interview the former prime minister. If you’ve already ordered your copy of the book it should be with you on Friday. If not –

    You can order Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’ here , at 40% reduction.

    Andrew Marr will interview Tony Blair at 7:00pm, Wednesday 1st September 2010

    The BBC's Andrew Marr will interview Tony Blair at 7:00pm, Wednesday 1st September 2010

    Related Articles

    EARLIER POSTS AT THIS BLOG ON BLAIR AT THE CHILCOT INQUIRY

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    One Response to “Tony Blair Memoirs: the tears, fears, regrets & drink behind the doors of Number 10”

    1. vanyastan Says:

      Good man!

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