There are some things the world could really do without – war, poverty, slavery, famine, fascism, religious fundamentalism, Gary Barlow’s Saturday night talent show, ‘Let it Shine’, and, to be blunt, the chubby, tax-evading Tory balladeer himself. Add to that list the return of Tony Blair. Like a stubborn genital wart that no amount of medicated ointment will ever truly extinguish, Blair is back. Just when you thought everything that could ever be said about Tony Blair had been said, here is is again. We’ve all been waiting for the Messiah to deliver us from evil, haven’t we? Just look at how the world has degenerated in the decade since he waved goodbye to Downing Street; yes, as long as we conveniently forget how awful the first seven years of the twenty-first century were, something Tony had a considerable hand in. How have we coped without him?
Tony’s been keeping himself busy since 2007, of course. He was a highly successful Middle East Peace Envoy, which was a bit like putting Harold Shipman in charge of a retirement home; he set up his Faith Foundation, which has served to bring the world’s religions together under one harmonious multi-faith umbrella; he has enjoyed the regular hospitality of numerous tin-pot despots presiding over some of the globe’s worst human rights abuses; he has raked in millions by giving glorified after-dinner speeches at exclusive corporate events; and he has remained utterly in denial that he ever did anything wrong throughout his lengthy career in the public eye. What a guy!
However, his post-2007 life has taken him away from the Great British Public, an evident emotional wrench that was destined to take its toll on his conscience; Tony knew we’d struggle without the wisdom of his guiding hand, and how we’ve struggled! Just look at last summer. The subconscious call went out to the wilderness that we needed rescuing from the folly of our actions on June 23 2016, and lo and behold, witness the Resurrection. Tony has come back to lecture us on where we went wrong, why we went wrong, and how we can fix it so that we’re reunited with his own worldview. Oh, praise the Lord!
From his natural home in the City of London, Mr Blair has taken the opportunity to stage his great comeback by making a speech to pro-Europe group Open Britain, a speech that he himself announced as being part of a ‘mission’ – yes, an important word, that. Had Blair been born a century earlier, I’ve no doubt he would have been a Christian Missionary, dispatched to the African colonies to educate the natives and show the savages the error of their ways. Make no bones about it – that’s exactly what he’s doing now; and we are the Fuzzy-Wuzzies.
We must rise up and change our minds on Brexit! Tony says that ‘this is the beginning of the debate’, though I thought that was the actual day we voted. Pro-Europeans need to build a movement, says Tony, one that cuts across party lines; as if to emphasise this crossbench unity, ex-Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg proclaimed he agreed with every word Tony spoke. Tony’s old party colours were revived when he had a go at the Government, stressing that Brexit would blind the Tories to all the other issues concerning the country, such as the NHS and education; that these vital elements of society are up shit creek largely due to the way Blair’s administration changed them for the worst has obviously eluded Tony. But accepting responsibility for the God-awful mess he left our once-cherished institutions in is not something anybody would ever expect from Tony Blair.
It is our right to change our minds and it is Tony’s mission to persuade us to do so. The decision to vote Leave was based on ‘imperfect knowledge’ – whether ours or that of those who planned the referendum wasn’t stated; but if we don’t succeed in overturning the decision, Tony warns we will suffer ‘a rancorous verdict from future generations’ – possibly along the same lines as the rancorous verdict Tony himself can look forward to when his own record in office is scrutinised by those same future generations. When taking a break from his globe-trotting jaunts of the past decade, Tony’s time back in Blighty has been spent in the company of rich, detached-from-reality men like himself, so he should know all about the factors that prompted the ignorant masses to vote Leave, shouldn’t he?
The speech has prompted predictably scathing responses from the current crop of politicos, many of whom, to be frank, provoke similar nausea in me as Tony himself does – Boris, Nigel and IDS being especially vocal. But that was to be expected. After Thatcher, Tony Blair is the most divisive Prime Minister this country has produced since the Second World War; and as with Maggie, the majority that decries him and the damage he did are accompanied by a minority who still believe he was up there with the greats; the parallels with Mrs T are relevant in their case too, for the Blair believers are the ones who did alright out of his reign – i.e., not me and thee.
In some respects, one cannot help but marvel at an individual whose brass-neck and unswerving faith in his own righteousness renders him completely deaf to any valid criticism of him personally and of the policies he embarked upon both at home and abroad during his tenure at No.10; that he can still take to the stage and deliver a lecture that tells us why we wrong and why he is right, after everything that has been done in his name, takes some bloody nerve.
But watching an ageing deluded sociopath in action has an undeniable car-crash appeal that is quite shameful if ultimately irresistible. It’s the same reason why millions tuned into live TV programmes on which Oliver Reed was a guest in the 80s and 90s – so let Tony keep doing it, oblivious to the real reasons why anybody might be listening. That’s entertainment.
© The Editor