Lance Price: He didn't have to tell us about his drinking – but he did

Share
Related Topics

Reading Tony Blair's memoirs, there are a few episodes that have me scratching my head and thinking, "Is that really how it was?" For example, in the early years he tells us that "the broad framework on the economy, never mind anything else, was set by me" – i.e. that Gordon was the engine driver but Tony built the train and decided which direction the tracks should go in. But it certainly didn't feel like that inside 10 Downing Street as we struggled day in, day out, to work out what the Chancellor planned to do in his next Budget.

Blair was remarkably relaxed about the unprecedented power he allowed Brown to wield as Chancellor. "I did so," he says, "without any fear of being eclipsed or outmanoeuvred." Yet those around him were not so sanguine and, of course, at the end of the day he was finally outmanoeuvred.

Politically, the most serious charge that can be levelled against Blair on the basis of his own book is that he knew a Brown premiership would end in failure, and yet he did nothing to prevent it. To put it crudely, having decided to try to keep Gordon Brown in the tent pissing out, rather than outside pissing in, he ended up with him inside the tent pissing on the floor and making it a pretty unpleasant place for everybody else to be.

Blair is at least honest about the complex mixture of emotions that led him to allow Brown to get away with so much – genuine admiration for his positive qualities but also fear of his destructive power should he sack him. And while this book may be one-sided at times and it has a strong streak of let-me-put-the-record-straight indignation, it is surprisingly brave. There is a confessional tone that I find refreshing.

Blair didn't have to tell us that he became a bit too dependent on alcohol towards the end, he didn't have to reveal how clearly he understood the impulses that drive politicians to take crazy risks with sexual infidelities, but he chooses to do so.

Nor did Blair have to admit that, in order to bring the two sides together in Northern Ireland, he stretched the truth "past breaking point". It leaves him wide open to the charge that if would lie under those circumstances – to achieve an outcome that he believed to be right – then he would do the same in others. Those who will never forgive him for Iraq will use that against him – and he knows it.

As well as frankness, this book has humour. His description of Prime Minister's Question Time as "the most nerve-racking, discombobulating, nail-biting, bowel-moving, terror-inspiring, courage-draining experience" is priceless. It helps explain why he put his staff through hell every Wednesday morning while he prepared for it.

A Journey will stand the test of time if for no other reason than it's a good read. Those who loathe him won't stop, but those who are prepared to read what he says with an open mind may be pleasantly surprised.

Lance Price is the author of 'Where Power Lies – Prime Ministers v The Media', published by Simon & Schuster this year

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The bustling Accident & Emergency ward at Milton Keynes Hospital  

The NHS needs the courage to 'adapt and survive'

Nigel Edwards
 

Letter from the Sub-Editor: Canada is seen as a peaceful nation, but violent crime isn’t as rare as you might think

Jeffrey Simpson
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?