Imagine the temerity of a mere waiter attempting to arrest Oxbridger Tony Blair for war crimes: it almost has about it the kind of Beyond the Fringe comic brio! The estimable Jonathan Miller and crew could have done it handily.
Poor Tony! his life is one extended political/ethical melodrama. Never has the political opportunism at the center of rise of New Labor been so amply demonstrated by a paradigmatic figure than by Tony Blair. He’s not a character from Dickens but rather from the political novels of Disraeli or even the high political melodrama of the Palliser novels. Yet he does not win the sympathy of the readers, of this almost even-handed essay, when it descends to a regrettable although predictable political bathos:
That is a shame, for his mission to fight against fundamentalism needs all the resources and energy it can get. He has considerable talents, which he is prepared to devote to his cause, just as he energised a moribund Labour Party and made it a more powerful political force than the largely retrograde instincts of Ed Miliband, its present leader, could have done. Yet the main asset that any former politician has is moral sway, and because Mr Blair has forfeited so much trust, he has far less credibility than he should have. Some contrition or regret among those ironclad certainties would serve him and his cause better. The late Mo Mowlam, an outspoken minister in the Blair government, was on to something when she observed early in his reign that “the trouble with Tony is that he thinks he’s fucking Jesus.” Mr Blair has plenty of the Messiah’s self-belief and sense of mission. He could do with a dash of his humility as well.