Anorak News | How Mad Is Tony Blair?

How Mad Is Tony Blair?

by | 2nd, October 2006

He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with greatest loss.
Machiavelli (1469 – 1527)

It is the nature of ambition to make men liars and cheats, to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths, to cut all friendships and emnities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will.
Sallust (86 BC – 34 BC)

FLIPPING through the newspapers today provides one with an opportunity for considered reflection on something I don’t think I have pondered a very great deal since I stopped grappling with essay deadlines about the motivation of doomed literary characters.

As we all gawp at the Blair end of the Pier show, and roll about laughing at the bonkers ‘Blue Peter’ memo that surfaced yesterday in the Mirror and has been widely reproduced with great glee today, it is instructive to consider the nature of the rise and fall of the most powerful man in the country. And to consider what morals can be applied and what lessons learned in our own lives from observing the effect of ambition and power upon the human psyche. Then again, we can all just forget the soul-searching and have a good blast of *schadenfreude-nish laughter instead.*made-up word

The question that I am pondering now is: Is the Prime Minister mad?

And if so, has he always been mad, and it’s only now the whole shiny show has run aground, the spinning wheels stuck in the mire, splattering the handful of grunting helpers shoving away at the back of the stuck vehicle with muck and slime, whilst everyone else stands around, gawping and pointing and shouting unhelpful advice, that we can see it? Did he start off quite sensible, (if a bit over-awed by cheesey mid-nineties marketing manuals and motivational management seminars) , and have his head spun by nine years of the giddy heights of power?

Or was he always bonkers?

Blair gambolled onto the scene almost a decade ago, and was immediately christened ‘Bambi’ by the cartoonists, who portrayed him as wide-eyed, goofy-eared, with a ubiquitous toothy smile. All freshness and bounce and April- ( or May-) freshness. Then he ran through various incarnations – frequently a knobbly-kneed Boy Scout, or a smirking US poodle, until he ended up as the swivel-eyed, bloodsplattered zombie that cartoonists portray him as today. In which current likeness he looks mad as mad can be, proper batshit tonto pet-scaring loopy. And perhaps he is. The signs are certainly there.

I don’t know how mad I would be if I was him, after 9 years in power, flying round the world glad-handing the rich and powerful, (Cherie meanwhile shovelling freebies into her handbag) , triumphant leader of a thumping majority of drone sound-a-likes, with no Opposition to speak of, and a populace and City drunkenly letting the good times roll. I’d probably be permanently off my head, throwing red boxes out of windows, getting chauffered about in bullet-proof Jags, wearing bizarre crushed velvet purple suits and mystic ‘spiritual’ bangles, having re-birthing mud-baths, employing ex-Page 3 ‘style advisers’, thinking the laws of the land, not to mention the laws of fashion or polite society didn’t apply to me. Oh, whoops.

But there is an instructive lesson to consider in the fact that Blair wanted to be a rock star for a while, but didn’t have the necessary musical genius. Then a high-falutin’ lawyer, but you can perform your little socks off and grandstand all day in court and nobody really cares. It’s politics instead that Anthony Charles Linton Blair chose, aka ‘showbiz for ugly people’. And compared to most politicians, he’s not ugly at all, and he does have nice teeth. And he wasn’t a Tory. At the time. So he was always going to shine.

And now I am going to try and think of the defining political moments of Blair’s career. Without googling it first.

Okay, there’s the People’s Princess stuff, the Shoulder to Shoulder 9/11 moment, the Olympics presentation with the East End kiddies, and, um…that’s it. I have sat here and thought hard for over 10 minutes. And I’ve realised that I actually can’t think of a single thing he’s done that I remember as a defining moment which wasn’t a totally scripted micromanaged ”meant-to-be-spontaneous” planned photocall. Oh yeah, the sweaty shirt speech. He looked real then. But apart from that, it’s all been micro-media management.

It’s media-management that’s done for him in the end though. We can thank frustrated journalists, revolting against the bullying Spinmeister Alistair Campbell, for acting as the effective opposition during all those long years of Tory implosion and Euroloonery, for pulling back the lurex curtain and showing us the smoke, mirrors, levers and wheels of spin whirling frantically behind the scenes, like the Wizard of Oz outed as some just some geeky guy with a clever-clogs machine. That was when it started to go wrong, when the word ‘spin’ entered the vernacular. (That, and the original Pop Idol didn’t help, because it fatally educated the population in the black arts of marketing and moulding affable braindead ”talent” that smiles well into a camera, and transforming it into buyable ”product”. Which killed off boybands, hurrah, but also finished off poor Smash Hits and Top of the Pops, boo).

Anyway, the wheels are off now, the gears are grinding, and as the latest out-there memo revealing the plans for more soaring rhetoric, more touchy-feely/heroic photo calls circulates, bloggers’ teeth start to gnash. We make and publish our own media, these days, we write our own stories and comments and analysis, Mr Blair, and we can see how you make yours. We can tune you out if we want, or we can rip into your stuff and feed off it. And we’re laughing at you, and your multi-platform brand communication, and your media strategising. We’re fed up with the seeping stench of spin, the flies are buzzing round it, and there’s nothing so unsexy as a dead brand. Your love-affair with marketing gurus should have told you that ten years ago.

Just how stupid do you think we are, anyway? Or do you think we are as mad as you? That we have the salesman’s trick you have, Mr Blair, of believing whatever we say and hear at the moment we are saying it and hearing it, and believing it twice as hard if there is an audience?
Carry on clicking the ruby slippers, if so, for Kansas awaits.

Poor Mr Blair. Surrounded by zealots who still think it can all be solved with a Hawaian shirted photocall with Chris Evans ( Chris Evans, FFS??), maybe a prayer read in that peculiar castrated sanctimonious voice he adopts when doing Holy Joe schtick, a few jolly japes in the Blue Peter garden, a quick fumble on the sofa with that nice lady off GMTV, maybe a bit of punditry on Soccer AM. Oh, yeah, we’ll really lap it up.

And the sad thing is he can’t even see how much people are starting to laugh.

Actually, that’s what I think will do for him in the end. The giggling pity of his subjects, not their righteous anger. The ‘never mind, eh, Tony’ looks, the winks behind his back as he is led gently away and given his carriage clock or the zero-interest mortgage or the Executive Directorship of the oil/arms company, the keys to the Memorial Library, the Medal of Honour, the Red Arrows fly-past, the State Funeral ( hey, maybe that’s why he was angling for Thatcher to have one?), anyway, whatever he wants, just let him have it, and give him his slice of cake and his goodie bag, and someone close the door behind him as he leaves the party.

Yes, I do think we are all taking the wrong tack as we circle, smelling the blood oozing from him, ( most of it other peoples) watching the media frenzy, some of us itching to kick him, as we have been kicked in the teeth by him with his stupid restrictive legislation for daring to voice our outraged opposition, for Not Knowing What’s Good For Us. He’s too good at patronising us hoardes of unwashed voters, putting us all in our boxes and having ”consultative” one-way Big Conversations that are really monologues. But sod the anger, there’s no point, he’s off. He’s over.
And meanwhile, we should call out for those whose fingers aren’t being gently prised off the arms of the Number 10 sofa, and ask them to wow us with some real ideas. Show us their abilities to think about Government, not just politics. There’s no point in being cynical. Let’s hear it. Out you come, nice Alan Johnson, you’re being very quiet at the back. Don’t be shy, Gordon, spit it out, give us a smile, you’ve nearly won the long war. Tell us your prescription, ‘Doctor’ Reid.

We’re bored with ”orderly transitions” ( argh!) and ”eye catching initiatives” ( double argh!) and we’re waiting for vision, leadership, public-spiritedness and hope. Or at least, engagement.

There you go, Labour adviser people, a New Idea. Consumer Engagement is the latest whizzy advertising buzz word. If Blair’s legacy is to be a marketing-speak lexicon frequently used to sell us pups and demographically-segment us into focus-grouped swathes of obedient multi-cultural flag-waving voters in order to drive through US interests in Europe and elsewhere, then you might as well *get with the programme*. Cameron’s lot are showing signs of having read the latest tomes on this sort of thing. I bet they subscribe to Marketing Week. New Labour is sooo nineties as a brand.

You need a different brand ambassador. One who washes whiter. New. Gentle Yet Powerful. Effective But Caring. Tough on stains, and the causes of stains on society. With snappy new packaging, and 3-in-one global action. I don’t think it really matters who it is; it’s what he or she delivers that counts. Whether it actually works. And I hope, after 9 years of ‘Blairism’, that the party he led will finally work that out. For all our sakes.

Posted: 2nd, October 2006 | In: Uncategorized Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink