Mixed emotions

In his memoirs, Tony Blair reveals his admiration for Princess Diana and George W. Bush, his ambivalence toward successor Gordon Brown and his deft defense of the Iraq War. Some excerpts.

September 8, 2010 23:15
1 minute read.
Tony Blair and his memoir 'A Journey'

311_Tony Blair book cover photo. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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On Princess Diana: “She captured the essence of an era and held it in her hand. She defined it. ... She was extraordinarily captivating.”

On the Catholic-Protestant divide in Northern Ireland: “Then there are attitudes which, to us, seem absurd, comic even, but to them are defining. I remember before the 1997 election a leading Orangeman describing me as unfit to be prime minister because my wife was a painted jezebel who claimed her allegiance to Rome.”

On George W. Bush: “George had immense simplicity in how he saw the world. Right or wrong, it led to decisive leadership.

“I had come to like and admire George. I was asked recently which of the political leaders I had met had most integrity. I listed George near the top. ... He was, in a bizarre sense ... a true idealist.”

On the invasion of Iraq: “I... regret with every fiber of my being the loss of those who died. ... Tears, though there have been many, do not encompass it.

“On the basis of what we do know now, I still believe that leaving Saddam in power was a bigger risk to our security than removing him and that, terrible though the aftermath was, the reality of Saddam and his sons in charge of Iraq would at least arguably be much worse. ... I am unable to satisfy the desire even of some of my supporters, who would like me to say: it was a mistake but one made in good faith. Friends opposed to the war think I’m being obstinate; others, less friendly, think I’m delusional. To both I may say: keep an open mind.”

On his successor, Gordon Brown: “Was he difficult, at times maddening? Yes. But he was also strong, capable and brilliant, and those were qualities for which I never lost respect. ... Political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no. Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence, zero.”

On alcohol: “Stiff whisky or G&T before dinner, couple of glasses of wine or even half a bottle with it. So not excessively excessive. I had a limit. But I was aware that it had become a prop.”

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