Blair and Bin Laden are in same tradition, says pundit

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The Independent Online

A new biography of Tony Blair published this month in Italy has led to the Prime Minister being compared to Osama bin Laden.

A new biography of Tony Blair published this month in Italy has led to the Prime Minister being compared to Osama bin Laden.

In a review published in La Stampa newspaper, Lucia Annunziata, a senior Italian journalist, said both Mr Blair and Bin Laden were "children of the same element - modernity which ran its course at the end of the century, in the ruins of ideology".

She continued: "For both men, success is the result of the 'courageous' transformation of an honourable but exhausted tradition - and both achieved this transformation through their comprehension and expansion of the use of the media."

Ms Annunziata began her career on the Communist daily Il Manifesto and resigned as president of the state broadcaster RAI a year ago. Speaking to The Independent yesterday, she added: "Both men refused to be co-opted by their traditions, both were very attractive to the young, both are obsessed with the media, have great personal charm and are great tacticians. For both dealing with their father figures was central in their adolescence. Both are shallow, smooth, fascinating, immoral and the product of elites."

The new biography, entitled The Boy - Tony Blair and the Destiny of the Left by Andrea Romano, is to be launched in Rome next week, and is "generally a positive interpretation", according to the author.

Mr Blair has been a tantalising figure to the Italian left ever since his first election victory in 1997. "Is he a conservative disguised as a socialist, the servant of the Americans and the enemy of peace?" asks the blurb of the book, "or the courageous leader of the European left, who has succeeded in forcefully implementing progressive ideals in a long period of government?"

Of the striking comparison of Mr Blair and Bin Laden in the review, the book's author said: "I think the comparison is quite grounded. It's true that both men came out of the tradition of modernity, they are two expressions of modernity, even though they are enemies."

For Ms Annunziata, Bin Laden's success in mounting a military challenge to the only superpower, "the first such Islamic military success in more than 400 years", is analogous to Tony Blair's achievement in rescuing the Labour Party from its moribund state in the 1980s. But both men are shallow, she says, and in need of bolstering by theoreticians.