by Chris Ricôt
No sooner had I left the bookshop than the sales assistant ran after me. “I’m sorry, sir, but I wasn’t actually allowed to sell you that book.” What was going on? “It’s embargoed. Apparently the release date’s been pushed back. It’s being serialised in a weekend newspaper.”
No prizes for guessing which. This book is hysterical in its condemnation of Blair. Page after page of wild estimates about personal fortunes, consultancy fees and property portfolios go beyond the polemic. It’s a double-page spread of tabloid anti-Blairism extrapolated over 370-odd pages. A quick look at the sources at the back list a tangle of websites that alternate between Mail Online and the Telegraph. Serious journalism this ain’t.
The authors aren’t sure if Blair is callow, cynical or both. Their story begins on 27 June 2007, the day Blair resigned as prime minister. As soon as he was appointed Middle East peace envoy, Blair ‘set about making himself seriously rich.’ The distaste for Blair’s “excellent state pension,” “twenty-four hour security team” and “increasing web of relations” (whatever that’s meant to mean) is established right from the outset. The authors are baffled that those “who still support him do so with greater intensity than ever before.”
The book peddles the myth that Blair didn’t achieve much in office, when his supporters remember how he fundamentally transformed our country. It’s not just Northern Ireland and the national minimum wage: it’s Sure Start. Civil partnerships. Paternity leave. Devolution. A reference to Sierra Leone’s civil war is dismissed as “his most (and only) successful foreign intervention.” What about Kosovo?