Wednesday, 17 December 2008

'The Double Life of Tony Blair'

It sounds like a high-concept literary novel, doesn't it? In fact it's just the title Newsweek have stuck on this interesting interview-based report by Lisa Miller on the course in 'Faith and Globalisation' that Blair has now begun to teach at Yale. Therein Miller neatly rehearses all the contortions of Blair's public and private positions on what he believed while PM. Her best moment is the assertion that 'in a way, Blair's foundation is the culmination of his life as a double agent' - so making him sound rather like a character out of Kipling or Conrad.
Blair is certainly a character in my Crusaders, for which he also furnishes an epigraph, and he also has a 'double' in the figure of the book's young Anglican priest John Gore - though Gore resists the imputation, as in the following edgy exchanges with Labour MP Martin Pallister:

‘One thing you should know, John – he’s sincere is Tony. His faith is solid, really, it’s what he’s all about.’
Gore was pondering. ‘His wife, she’s Catholic, right?’
‘Cherie? Aye, I think so. What of it?’
‘Just, I don’t know if I recognise his particular brand. Of the faith. And I should say, I don’t know that the public care for politicians who wear that stuff on their
‘Oh no, not a bit. That’s your job. And that’s what Tony says and all.’ Pallister wore his own thoughtful look. ‘You know what, you’d put me in mind of him a bit. Tony.’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘Don’t blow a gasket there. No, I think you’d get on, the two of you. What with the faith in common. And you’re both Durham lads, right...?

Anyhow... back to Lisa Miller's interview, Blair's main quotes are humdrum, indeed they might make jaundiced students of Labour history groan and try to amuse themselves by substituting 'The Labour Party' for the 'spiritual faith'/'faith area' bits in the following:
"We have an obligation to present spiritual faith as something that is positive and progressive and solves problems and does good, rather than something that people only read about because people are killing in the name of it."
"To me what is important is that the whole faith area gets some what I would call muscularity, and certainly strategy."
Dullsville, eh? But as usual with Blair the interesting part is trying to figure out what he actually thinks and means, (and intends to do), under the polished patter.

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