THE JOURNEY by Tony Blair
Whatever you thought of Tony Blair as a prime minister (and I have to confess to being an extreme case of ambivalence), there is something compelling about his autobiography. The fact that he wrote it long hand himself (no evidence of a ghost writer here) on reams of legal pad, may seem an example of old fashioned homeliness, but it is frequently evident in the poor quality of some of his writing.
Ironically, it’s uneven literary value lends much to its readability. If you can stomach the pages of details concerning policies, conventions and treaties, you will find yourself shooting through his conversation-like prose like a piece of airport fiction. At 733 pages in length, however, you do need to read with purpose.
As with all autobiographies, you get what you expect. A generally self-congratulatory analysis of all that went on during his time in politics, a skirting around of some of the trickiest issues of his premiership (eg. Iraq) and, in the case of Tony Blair, an over-indulgence in the use of superlatives to describe all who worked on his behalf, or who simply agreed with him. It beats me how he could strain at the leash in supporting the qualities of people like George Bush and Silvio Berlusconi. Did he really mean to praise them?
Of course, his relationship with Gordon Brown (GB in the book) has to be a highlight. Even though he is often at pains to point out GB’s qualities, he recognised throughout that he would make a disastrous prime minister. So the big question is: why did he resign during his third term of office and allow GB to be crowned as his successor? Should he not have fought for a leadership contest? We know from years of press rumblings that GB was his neighbour from hell. Would it really have been out of the question to have lost him during a key Cabinet reshuffle?