Bizarre attack on Blair by self-taught psychobabbler

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The Independent Online
The man who claimed to have psychoanalysed Margaret Thatcher's ambivalent relationship with her mother has now turned his attention to Tony Blair, in a bizarre book about the Labour leader's "politics of perversion".

Leo Abse, Labour MP for Pontypool for nearly 30 years until 1987, and author of the controversial "psycho-biography", Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice, yesterday claimed to analyse Mr Blair's politics in terms of his "rootless" upbringing.

In his book, The Man Behind the Smile: Tony Blair and the Politics of Perversion, he accuses the Labour leader of using fascist language and compares him to Oswald Mosley.

The Daily Mail published exclusive extracts of the book yesterday, giving rise to speculation that it was part of a campaign to undermine Mr Blair. The Labour leader's office refused to "dignify" the book with a comment, and Labour officials privately dismissed it as the ramblings of a confused and increasingly eccentric man. Mr Abse became interested in psychoanalysis as a teenager in Cardiff, but has had no training.

The book was all but disowned at its publication yesterday by Mr Abse's friend, Geoffrey Goodman, the former labour editor of the Daily Mirror who worked for Prime Minister James Callaghan. Mr Goodman said the book was "a trifle intellectually self-indulgent, above all immensely courageous ... I can't say that I am at one with it".

Mr Abse criticises the concept of "New" Labour: "The myth of renewal and rebirth is a dangerous ploy to introduce into politics. It is precisely that myth, when it has invaded the politics of 20th-century Europe, notably in Nazi Germany, that has wreaked havoc.

"We have had once before in 20th-century Britain a party emphasising above all its pristine nature. It was the New Party founded by the extraordinary and dangerous Oswald Mosley; it was a party that soon glided into fascism."

He then attacks Mr Blair and "his impertinent young political pups" in crude psychological terms: "As they seek to kill off their fathers, these political adolescents forget that the most radical and `regenerative' Labour government [of 1945] was led by old men."

Mr Abse's Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice was regarded as plausible by some on the left. It purported to analyse Baroness Thatcher's relationship with her father and absence of a relationship with her mother.

More recently, he was feted - rather uncertainly - by the right for his book, Wotan, My Enemy, in which he psychoanalysed the entire German nation and pronounced it unable to face up to its deep-ingrained racism.

Mr Abse, 79, criticises the Labour leader for his sexual "ambiguity" and his interest in rock music. "Why does Blair immerse himself in this born-again world of rock, the world without commitment, of gender disorientation, of sexual nomads, of the Rolling Stones who, in their restless name, enshrine rock's stance?"

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