Simon Carr:

The Sketch: A great healer who talks in double negatives

Related Topics

Who is Tony Blair any more? Who is he in the Middle East? Is he anyone? What answers does he have to the three big regional questions?

Those questions are: Have you got any power? Have you got any money? All right, how about rich, powerful friends, then?

He's a bit lacking in those essentials, I fear. No power, no money – and his only friend is George Bush. It's really all down to him. Blair alone. He is the catalyst, the magnetiser, the charismatic Mahatma who brings people of good faith together in a spirit of reconciliation to change the world for the better.

I was once asked to settle the bill at a restaurant and I said I didn't have any money but I had a great idea for a sitcom which they could have. That didn't work either.

Mr Blair appeared at the International Development Committee yesterday and, understandably, he looked a little worn. He's started talking in double negatives. "There isn't any reason why they cannot go ahead." And, "If there was a ceasefire, there'd be no reason not to open the crossings."

And, "The situation is uncertain but unacceptable." By the dynamics of the Middle East, a double negative doesn't produce a positive, it produces another negative. A double negative is a treble negative. It's the region's largest export after bananas.

But whatever Tony is or isn't, he isn't negative. Or do I mean he isn't not negative? I want to say he's positive. But when his positive meets their negative, it turns into a long, articulated nothing.

Thus, he told us: "If you got a process going with real progress then Hamas would be faced with a choice." Which isn't to say anything at all.

But let's be positive with him. As he puts it, "What each side says about the other is essentially true." That's a double positive. And by the regional grammar, entirely negative. Is there any real chance of peace? "We need thesituation to ease."

Granted, that would be a step in the right direction. "Until we get a period of calm, we won't get a chance for sensible dialogue." Patience, then. "We need to show what the benefits are if people have a different attitude." He's put his finger on it there. "Israel could do more to help." We'd all agree with that, or mostly agree. But then again, "Hamas is using the situation to provoke the Israeli government." And many of the rest of us would agree with that. What to do?

This is only a stage in the later career of Blair. His ultimate plan is to reconcile the great religions, and bring them together to make the world a better place. Big job. Let's hope he doesn't fall at this, the first hurdle.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor