My good friend and experienced blogger, Ming Ho, advised me, when I started this blog a couple of weeks ago, to stay on topic…. ‘Living With Prostate Cancer’ or ‘TV Writing’ or ‘NinjaMarmoset, Media Commentator’. But whatever you do, she said, don’t flit around, blogs like that never work. Ehm, sorry Ming, you’re probably right, but today, it’s politics time.
My justification for it is that I have long been fascinated by Tony Blair and once wrote a play about him for Radio 4 called Can You Tell Me The Name Of The Prime Minister?. As part of my research for this, I managed to wangle myself a ticket to see him testify at the Chilcott Enquiry into the UK’s involvement in the Iraq War, back in 2010 (FOUR whole years ago, and still no published report!!). It was an electric experience on a damp February afternoon in London… at which the former PM batted his pathetic interrogators away with charmingly earnest, yet simultaneously arrogant, self aggrandising ease. He was brighter than the lot of them put together, and I was on the edge of my seat, desperate to shout out a few decent questions, and to berate the committee for being so easily waylaid by his lawyers’ diversionary tactics. I didn’t say anything however. All spectators were sworn to silence, and there were armed security there to enforce the rule.
Fast forward four and a bit years and yesterday Tony Blair delivered the following speech about his take on the West’s response to Islamic Extremism in the Middle East.
I doubt that many, if any, passing blog visitors will have time to read the speech in full (I only do because I’m laid out in the closing stages of a course of radiotherapy – see Ming, I’m back on topic!!) but the text of Tony Blair’s speech about the Middle East and Islamic Extremism, and his prescription for the West’s role in it, is well worth close scrutiny. It is actually quite an extraordinary document. For a start, there’s much to agree with, some informed analysis, some frank speaking about things that need to be said.
It is also mind bogglingly self deceiving and self aggrandising. It is a manifesto that cries out in Old Testament fashion: ‘Behold ye minions, the dam is about to crack and we shall all be drowned!!! Heed my words!! Stay and fight!!’ whilst forgetting to mention that he was part of the guerrilla raid that put a ton of TNT under the whole thing in the first place.
And whilst in one paragraph he continues his increasingly lonely assertion that history will treat the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan favourably (I wonder why???), he then goes on to state that it is in the West’s interests to support the murderous regime of President Assad in Syria.
Go figure, if you can.
Rarely has a document made me nod in agreement and gawp in heart pumping, smacked-gob incredulity almost simultaneously. There are important issues being discussed here, but, having read the whole thing, I find myself seeing not the haunted, careworn Bambi we’ve all grown to groan at whenever he appears on our TV screens, but the confused, bloated, mumbling form of Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now trying to rationalise the bloody chaos over which he presides.
I feel as if I’ve learned little about the Middle East and a lot about Tony Blair’s fucked up Heart of Darkness.
(I’ll be back talking about soap writing and telly next time, promise!)