Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Matthew Parris and the Confidence Trickster Called Blair

Some years ago I had the idea of writing a novel in which a Prime Minister becomes self delusional and goes mad. Well, truth is often stranger than fiction, and Matthew Parris believes my novel is turning into reality. I've just been listening to him on Jeremy Vine talk about his Times article on Saturday. If you want to read the whole thing - and you should - click HERE. Here are some highlights...

What now for Blair? On this question I sense that from contrasting corners of the political spectrum, opinions are now converging upon the next step. My ancient doubts are less important than new doubts among new Labour’s friends, but let me put my own opinion delicately. I believe Tony Blair is an out-and-out rascal, terminally untrustworthy and close to being unhinged. I said from the start that there was something wrong in his head, and each passing year convinces me more strongly that this man is a pathological confidence-trickster. To the extent that he ever believes what he says, he is delusional. To the extent that he does not, he is an actor whose first invention — himself — has been his only interesting role. Books could be written on which of Mr Blair’s assertions were ever wholly sincere, which of his claimed philosophies are genuine, and how far he temporarily persuades himself that each passing passion is real. But deconstructing Mr Blair’s mind is hopeless. Suffice it to say that I used to believe that, at the moment of saying anything, our Prime Minister probably thought that what he said was true — that there was no secret, internal wink. Today I have lost confidence even in that. Small things as much as large have formed my view. What kind of a man would walk out of the Chamber as his former ally, Frank Field, rose to offer a patently heartfelt explanation of his reasons for standing down? Knowing what we do today about Mr Blair, would he still get the benefit of our doubt over the Bernie Ecclestone affair? What kind of a man would employ Alastair Campbell as his mouthpiece to history? What kind of a man would have given journalists on a plane to China the clear and false impression that he had had nothing to do with the outing of Dr David Kelly? What kind of a man makes Silvio Berlusconi his friend and incurs a personal debt of gratitude to that bad, bad man? What kind of a Prime Minister neglects the courtesy and gratitude owed to his man in Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, quitting early after heart trouble? What kind of a man leaves friends as different as the late Roy Jenkins, Paddy Ashdown, and his own Chancellor privately despairing that they can ever rely on the Prime Minister’s word again? And what kind of a man dispatches his “personal envoy to the Middle East”, Lord Levy, to drill vast sums of money from little-known tycoons with hopes of taking life peerages, and hushes it up? We may never discover what so discreet an operator as Lord Levy has said to these people but we know something they wanted from Tony Blair, and we know something Tony Blair wanted from them. Did more need to be said? Another thing we know is that the Prime Minister recognised that if a gift were declared then the chain of events would be judged disgraceful. So the money was hidden: hidden even from his own party treasurer. Now his treasurer has blown the whistle, and his treasurer’s wife, the Solicitor-General, has arranged a separation not from her husband, but from much of her ministerial portfolio. Love, then, is not dead; but if Ms Harman’s Chinese wall is appropriate now, why not when the PM appointed her? And if Mr Blair believes now that the funding of parties needs reform, why not earlier — in his recent manifesto, for instance? You know why. He never meant to put matters right. He has been caught out. The genius Mr Blair showed this week in extricating himself from this latest corner was breathtaking. If a burglar, caught red-handed, should by effrontery and oratory make from the dock so stirring a call for the fundamental reform of the Theft Acts that the whole court were distracted from the charge and persuaded to “move on” . . . then the tour de force would hardly be more impressive. Our PM has the magician’s knack of drawing the eye away from the trick. Should a fraction of his talent for getting himself out of trouble be deployed in some wider national purpose, Britain would probably have conquered the universe by now. He reminds me of those schoolboys whose form masters report that if they devoted to their homework half the dedication they devote to getting out of doing it, they would be the envy of the school. But he already is. Tony Blair has lived before. Dickens has recorded the life in David Copperfield. The character is Copperfield’s one-time school-friend and (until he betrays him) hero: the engaging, handsome and popular James Steerforth. Read the book. It is occasionally reported that some poor woman falls in love with a professional fraud and remains his wife for years without realising what she has married. The British electorate are such a woman. Mr Blair’s misdeeds are persistently overlooked, and his excuses credited. By the time we wake up he may have torn his party and its programme apart. Close colleagues and Labour MPs mostly know already what he is. Forget the bleatings of the hard Left, the Tories and the likes of me: it is Tony Blair’s political allies who should now act. They must accept that he is no longer an asset to the new Labour cause and that, if they do not cut him loose soon, he may drag a whole brave political project down with him. There is not much time to lose.

5 comments:

Rigger Mortice said...

Nicely put Iain.For those of us who've gotten a twitch every time he stood upto speak since he came to power,it's a relief because the world can see what we see.That is a deeply flawed individual who's wasted taxpayers money on propping up his vision/legacy.Even worse,he took us to war for his own ego.How many bodybags of concrete will be used to build his statue?
All the time,he's flannelled his way through it and got away with far more than the media would ever have let the Tories off with.I hope when the recession comes people don't want his lectures on piety and being a successful fraud.

Save Britain from Blair said...

Matthew Parris sums up what I have been thinking for years...that the Labour Party and the British electorate has made a pack with the devil. I lean to the centre-right, but I'd rather have a principled leftist as prime minister than this con artist. I suppose we get what we deserve.

Alastair said...

Psst want to buuy a peerage try E-Bay
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/21/peerage_auction/

jc said...

Are these the thoughts of Iain Dale , Tony Benn or the late lamented Robin Cook? Strange political times

Iain Dale said...

JC, they're the thoughts of Matthew Parris!