An ode to Tony Blair

So. Farewell then Tony Blair.

To be young was very heaven when you arrived at Number 10.

Tough on Labour, tough on the causes of Labour.

Oh, the crush of perky blushing maidens flocking to thank you for the re-birth of Blighty!

Sadly, it was not to be.

For you were a prat.

A real nelly.

Itâe(TM)s not much of a poem (but thank you, EJ Thribb, Private Eye magazineâe(TM)s resident poet) but then he wasnâe(TM)t much of a prime minister. As we know now, the “spontaneous” street outburst upon Blairâe(TM)s election on May 2, 1997 was actually peopled by party hacks. The spin had already begun.

I know I should be celebrating this week, almost as much as I plan to be celebrating on the day of George W. Bushâe(TM)s departure, but it feels just like V-E Day turned out to be in real life — according to the diarists — as the Second World War ended. Churchill had promised that bells would ring out across the land, but there were no bells, simply a bureaucratic announcement that there was victory in Europe, everyone had tomorrow off, let joy be unconfined etc. etc.

It was a damp squib. Britons were so very tired.

Admittedly, I am finicky, but I went off Blair four months after his election, when he delivered a peculiar reading at the funeral of Princess Diana. It was from St. Paulâe(TM)s First Letter to the Corinthians, about faith, hope and love, not something that can really fail, but Blair put in such strange, awkward pauses, far worse than anything Thribb could achieve.

And it became apparent that Blair was acting. He was putting his own spin on St. Paul, as if he were ex-con Paris Hilton saying she wanted to use her fortune to fight recidivism in Americaâe(TM)s prisons, except she couldnâe(TM)t pronounce “recidivism.”

Britainâe(TM)s greatest political columnist, Matthew Norman of The Independent, normally one of journalismâe(TM)s wittiest, could only wearily come up with a list of Blairâe(TM)s failures, but what a glorious list. Very much the Dunkirk spirit, Matthew.

“He leaves in his wake a trail of ruins — a politicized and degraded civil service, overstretched and demoralized armed forces, a cabinet as neutered and toothless as the House of Commons, an education system still churning out the illiterate and innumerate, a fiscally chaotic and mutinous [health service] and a transport infrastructure barely worthy of a developing country.”

Mark Steel, one of journalismâe(TM)s greatest satirists, was fired from the Guardian because, the editor mumbled over cheese balls at the Waldorf, the paper “was realigning towards Blair.” Steelâe(TM)s satire was just too good, and Blairâe(TM)s people objected.

Last week, Blair was interviewed by the police for the third time about selling lordships for cash; he may yet be charged. Steel, now at The Independent, wrote about the shabby departure of the politician he had learned to despise. Steel wrote that Blair’s win 10 years ago was like a girlâe(TM)s dream of a lovely wedding on a sunny morning “if it turned out that youâe(TM)d married a junkie who then sold your furniture and smoked your hamster.”

And now Blairâe(TM)s off to make peace in the Middle East. He is regarded with contempt by everyone, including George Bush, who has just protested Blairâe(TM)s being called Bushâe(TM)s “poodle.” Heâe(TM)s “much bigger than that,” Bush said, with obvious contempt. A retriever perhaps? A bloodhound?

Great humans have tried to make peace in the Middle East and failed. So now the U.S., the U.N., the E.U. and Russia have hired a great failure. Blair has no power, no access even to power, or even intelligence, and no credibility.

If he failed with a popular domestic mandate, his predictable failure in a peacekeeping job that itself defines failure will be excruciating.

Blairâe(TM)s great flaw was ego. Yes, he did worship the wealthy and powerful, and yes, egotism is a flaw shared by many politicians. But with Blair, it had a messianic intensity. At his departure, he insisted that although he may have done wrong (a vague reference to joining the Americans in Iraq), he “believed” all along that he had been doing the right thing.

Let me emphasize that. He did not “think.” He “believed. ” In other words, he was a fan of “truthiness,” which governs Washington now. Itâe(TM)s not what you know in your head, itâe(TM)s what you feel in your gut. The facts donâe(TM)t matter.

Blair never realized that his personal beliefs were irrelevant. In fact, they make his decision to go into an illegal war with Iraq even more criminal. Politicians should never act on their feelings, but on their intellectual knowledge of the facts, particularly when any number of citizens are going to die hideous deaths as a result of these flighty emotions.

Now Blair has declared he will officially become a Catholic (that should go over well in the Middle East). And typically, he went to consult his parish priest. Who turned out to be, you guessed it, the Pope. The fake news site had a field day. The Vatican was scheduling tag teams of priests to hear Blairâe(TM)s confession in eight-hour shifts. One team does Iraq, another does the cash-for-honours, another the secret real-estate dealsâe¦

I predict that Blair’s pathetic preening and greasy self-love has not yet achieved its maximum height. It will continue to climb even with him out of office.

This Week

The greatest number of woman-hours were spent planning my first trip to Britain since I began my Blair boycott of that country. Now France will have to manage without me, while I visit Bloomsbury sites (Charleston where the painter Vanessa Woolf lived), museums (the nationâe(TM)s century of holiday snaps now being shown at the National Gallery) and every vindaloo restaurant I can find.

I traded in the Toyota Camry for the Yaris, which has the best fuel efficiency of any car on the market. And I began Clive Jamesâe(TM)s Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, a collection of essays on the great thinkers and artists of the past century. James has always liked women; he even includes some of them in his list.