All quiet on the Reptilian Press front

Comment at end

17th September, 2007


Something strange has happened to the ‘feral’ press in this country! They’ve chilled off a bit. Some of them have become almost human.

It may be because they haven’t heard or seen Mr Blair much recently. Lacking the challenge of the unbeatable versus the unreadable, their blood has cooled somewhat.

It won’t last for long of course. But I heard two of the Blair hunters recently on Radio 4 and they sounded perfectly reasonable and well balanced. Well … normal, actually. No spluttering venom or blood! No incoherence!

Peter Oborne and Matthew Parris – sounding reasonable?! There must be something afoot! Now, I do realise that the spoken word is less likely to be quite as abrasive or as effusive as the written. For example, in my case I would not describe Mr Blair as “my hero” in general conversation and certainly not to HIS face! God forbid!

But written down – that’s different. It’s there to balance the opposite view so frequently to be found by those who thrive on being rude.

So, bearing the demands of different communication mediums in mind, I’m still working out what’s happened to the press.

It may just be that now that they’ve done their bit for Queen and country, and helped to consume and then politically kill off the evil so and so, they are basking in modest, nonchalance in their own little cocoon of calm self righteousness.



[Pic: Deep in thought; Sarah Brown between two PMs]

Peter Oborne of the Mail – he who was frequently a pain in the No 10 press conferences’ back passages – has written an entertaining article on Blair & Brown at Princess Diana’s memorial service (view order of service & guest list). It may also bear some grains of truth, and for that we should be grateful perhaps, if surprised. It seems the Brothers B are really the best of mates after all, if a bit rude to poor Sarah Brown.

Brown is more of a chameleon than Blair, says the great Hunter of Reptiles.

But to continue the analogy to thick-skinned, cold-blooded creatures, and mix the metaphors, is this warming of the crocodilian press to be welcomed?

Well, for as long as it lasts.

And in Oborne’s case it lasted until the third sentence – so that’s progress. He didn’t start spitting out remnants of half-gnawed politicians right at the start.

Oborne Excerpts:

‘While the gentle atmosphere of the service played a healing role, other factors lay behind the diminution of coolness between the two former rivals. One concerns the complex psychology of Gordon Brown. Now that he is Prime Minister, he no longer feels the brutal resentment which tormented him for a decade.

The other concerns Tony Blair. He feels a sense of quiet gratification at the way Gordon Brown is conducting himself inside No 10.

This may sound a counterintuitive view, considering that the new Prime Minister has, superficially, set out to do everything possible to distance himself from the Blair regime – scrapping super-casinos; his coolness towards George W. Bush; the public disavowal of ‘celebrity politics’ etc etc.

However, the truth is that Tony Blair can afford to regard all this with wry amusement, because he knows very well that the changes are apparent rather than real.’

… and …

‘But Blair insisted on leaving a memo – and he has been vindicated.

Brown not merely absorbed, but has fully acted upon, the guidance he received — namely, that it would be fatal to swing Labour to the Left, and it was essential to stay in the centre ground of British politics.

Close study of Gordon Brown’s conduct since taking power shows that he has followed Blair’s example not just in principle, but in detail.

Just as Tony Blair chose to confuse the Conservative opposition by inviting Margaret Thatcher to tea within months of taking office, so Gordon Brown has done the same.

Just as Tony Blair’s government sought the advice of Thatcher’s old advertising guru Tim Bell, so Gordon Brown has hired her advertising agents Saatchi and Saatchi.

Some might claim these are trivial examples. But Brown is following Blair on fundamental points as well.

He has emulated his lead and turned on core Labour supporters as he did this week at the TUC conference.

In two weeks’ time at the party conference in Bournemouth, Gordon Brown will launch an attack on the rights of ordinary Labour activists every bit as vicious as Blair ever did.’

… and …

‘There is no question that poor David Cameron has been bamboozled by all this. He anticipated that Gordon Brown would move Left after becoming Prime Minister, but, instead, he has been outflanked from the Right.

This is brilliant politics, but it is not the honest politics which Brown promised us when he became Prime Minister.’

… and …

‘In the meantime, is it any wonder that Tony Blair is so pleased with himself?’

But of course, in the end, Oborne just HAS to return to his visceral hatred of the previous PM. Implying that Brown does not have the political abilities – OK, so Oborne described this in a somewhat skewed fashion – he finishes:

‘… I wonder whether Gordon Brown is capable of sustaining the kind of deceit which this kind of ‘big tent’ politics involves. Being Janusfaced came naturally to Tony Blair, which is why he got away with it for so long.

Deep inside, I don’t believe that Gordon Brown is that kind of empty, unprincipled, meretricious figure.’

Amazing stuff, if you’re into psycho-analysis. “Condemning with faint praise” comes to mind. After telling us that Brown is really Blair without the style or originality, Oborne then says that Brown is not really up to sustaining the required two-facededness.

To deceive wth flattery – or vice-versa?

I know it must have irritated the press greatly when Blair and Brown actually chatted to each other in a civilised manner. It completely flummoxed the press’s burning desire to report the expectation that they sat in stony silence.

But clearly Oborne has little grasp of the strength of their shared driving force; to keep this country out of the hands of Oborne’s party.

To that end their complicated relationship will continue to remain civilised, whatever happens or has happened between them in private. To go down in history as the prime ministers who between them relegated the Tories to the back-burner for 15 or more years would be prize enough, although 20 would be better still.

And at least one of them is now free and able to get on with his premiership without the other one leaning over his shoulder. That’s probably a relief to both.

But Oborne’s gunning for Blair still goes on even if the body politic is already flat on the floor.

‘Hard to let go’, isn’t it?

To know yourself, Mr Oborne, look at the language you use against others and the impression it leaves. To be characterised in these, your usual derogatory terms, might be considered praise indeed.

By Mr Blair, for one.

By the way, dear reader, why don’t you try commenting at Oborne’s page? I won’t bother, as throughout the last year when it’s clear I’ve been firmly in the Blair camp, they have printed NOT ONE of my comments. So much for the ‘free speech’ so resoundingly proclaimed as a ‘right’ by such as The Mail.


Much of the blogging world is sickeningly anti-USA, anti-Iraq war, anti-Israel, anti-Blair and anti-Britain. Head-bangers, in short.

But there is still some small glimmer of hope. Small, but still glimmering. Melanie Phillips continues to write absolute, basic uncommon sense in her well-researched articles. Click here for the latest which tells a whole different story on Iraq – surprise, surprise – from that of the ferals – crocodiles.


Having the guts to stay the course – by Melanie Phillips, 17 Sep, 2007

‘In a superb article a week ago in the Wall Street Journal (subscription only) about the situation in Iraq, the distinguished analyst Fouad Ajami wrote about Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Reisha, the Sunni leader who turned against al Qaeda and reached an accommodation with America — and who was killed three days later in a roadside bomb. But the story Ajami related was much bigger than this sheikh, vital and charismatic though he had been. It was the story of how the Anbar province had been transformed from a theatre of insurgency against America to a bulwark against al Qaeda. This is what the sheikh said:’

I read somewhere that Melanie Phillips wanted Blair to be impeached, and if so, with that I part company with her entirely. I have tried searching, but life is too short!

Don’t push to impeach my ‘hero’ for the wrong-headed judgements of others, Ms Phillips. (List of would-be impeacher MPs).

You agreed with me on the Blair removal in 5th September 2006, writing with similar language. I have concurred with most of your wide-ranging analyses since. The would-be impeachers are mainly the world’s losers. Hopefully, neither of us, nor Blair in the long run, falls into this category. Perhaps I read this report about you in a less accurate blog than yours. Sincerely hope so, anyway.

THE order of service and guests for tonight’s memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales.

Music before the Service includes: Fantasia and Fugue in G minor – Johann Sebastian Bach, La Rejouissance (Music for the Royal Fireworks) George Frideric Handel, Adagio for Strings Samuel BarberTHE INTROIT

Nimrod from The Enigma Variations, Sir Edward Elgar


Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart


The Reverend Patrick Irwin CF, Chaplain to the Household Division

We are gathered here to remember with love and gratitude Diana, Princess of Wales and to commend her soul to the everlasting care of God, the Father of us all. Gracious Father, in darkness and light, in trouble and in joy, help us to trust thy love, to serve thy purpose and to praise thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O Virgin Mother of God rejoice! from The Vespers Sergei Rachmaninov


read by His Royal Highness Prince William


The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want


read by The Lady Sarah McCorquodale


Ave verum corpus Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


read by His Royal Highness Prince Harry of Wales


Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart


Guide me, O thou great Redeemer


I Vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above


The Chaplain


from Songs of Farewell. Music: Sir Hubert Parry; Words: Henry Vaughan


Led by The Chaplain to the Household Division and The Archbishop of Canterbury

God our Father, we remember before thee Diana, Princess of Wales, and offer thee our gratitude for all the memories of her that we treasure still. Her vulnerability, and her willingness to reach out to the excluded and forgotten, touched us all; her generosity gave hope and joy to many. May she rest in peace where sorrow and pain are banished, and may the everlasting light of thy merciful love shine upon her; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Music after the Service, Orchestral Suite No.3 in D Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)



Those invited include: Thirty members of the Royal Family; Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, and other relatives; her godparents, her 12 godchildren and her bridesmaids and page boys; former members of her staff including personal secretary Victoria Menham; Sir Elton John, Lord Attenborough, Sir David Frost and Mario Testino; Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Sir John Major; The Landmine Survivors Network, Help the Aged and the National Aids Trust; Dodi Fayed’s sister Camilla.


• The Guards Chapel is home to the Coldstream Guards.

• It was virtually flattened by a German V-1 flying bomb in June 1944, killing many worshippers.

• The chapel can hold up to 472 people.

• It was chosen because of its links with Princes William and Harry; they are both officers of the Household Division and it is their regimental chapel.

• Camilla married Andrew Parker-Bowles in the chapel in 1973.


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