Broken Vows: Tony Blair The Tragedy of Power
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When Tony Blair became prime minister in May 1997, he was, at forty-three, the youngest person to hold that office since 1812. With a landslide majority, his approval rating was 93 per cent and he went on to become Labour's longest-serving premier. On his first election campaign, Blair had promised that 'New Labour' would modernize Britain, freeing it from sleaze, special interests and government secrecy. He vowed to give priority to social justice and equal opportunity for all.
So what went wrong? The invasion of Iraq was particularly controversial and unleashed public fury against a government accused of not being open and honest in its march to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alastair Campbell's 'dodgy' dossiers about WMDs sparked outrage, but did the contamination of New Labour's spin stretch beyond the wars?
What is the truth behind Blair's claims of rebuilding Britain's schools, hospitals and welfare services? Why did he covertly open the doors to mass immigration? And how is it that the same man who risked his government to destroy Slobodan MiloSevic and Saddam Hussein has, since leaving office, earned millions of pounds serving dictators?
Tom Bower was one of those who in 1997 looked on in excited anticipation as Blair took up residence in Downing Street. Now, with unprecedented access to more than 180 Whitehall officials, military officers and politicians, he has uncovered the full story of Blair's decade in power. To distil the magic and the myths of an era all Britons experienced but have not properly understood, he has followed Blair's trail since his resignation - to Asia, the Middle East and America, where he has built an extraordinary commercial empire advising tycoons and tyrants.
The result is the political thriller of the year - a dramatic re-evaluation of Tony Blair which disentangles the mystery of an extraordinary politician - and illuminates the ultimate tragedy of power.
yet, nor does America.’ By keeping his plans in the shadows, even his most cynical critics could be controlled, as Blair discovered on the eve of his summer break. Towards the end of July, he agreed to meet Clare Short. ‘I really think we should have a discussion about Iraq,’ she said. ‘No decisions have been made,’ replied Blair, ‘but I do not want it to come to Cabinet because it might leak into the press and hype things up.’ Short appeared satisfied, and Blair left for his summer vacation
‘evil’, without understanding the profound complexities of Iraq, mirrored Blair’s conviction that a brief conflict would be followed by the overthrow of the tyrants ruling Syria and Iran. He offered no further illumination of his optimistic scenario. Practically unmentioned throughout the three-hour briefing were WMDs. To the visitors, Blair was using the mention of such weapons in public as the excuse for removing the dictator. In hindsight, one of the guests regretted not being tougher towards
resources. John Major had been little better. Since 1995, the education budget had been cut to its lowest level since the mid-1950s and the department was relegated to middle-ranking ministers. The Conservatives, Blair believed, were deliberately undermining state schools in order to champion private education. While only 7 per cent of Britain’s children were privately educated, 20 per cent of university entrants came from private schools, and half of all Oxbridge students were from public
were rising, tax increases were inevitable and the public finances no longer looked so healthy. To maintain his reputation and secure an uncontested inheritance, Brown agreed with Blair a new spending limit for 2007, the date he assumed he would become leader. In anticipation, he did not give up his promotion of what he called ‘Labour values’ in the NHS. Down the executive corridor in Richmond House, Ken Anderson, the commercial director, still felt ignored by Hewitt and was under pressure from
department and the existing minister; the right side was blank. By the end of the session, the pack had been reshuffled and a few deadbeats removed. Blair departed for his holiday feeling depressed. He seemed unaware that the only unqualified loyalists supporting his government were those he most disparaged – the civil servants. TEN Frustration ‘You need to dismiss bad teachers,’ Chris Woodhead said firmly. He was urging Blair to cross the Rubicon and support him against David Blunkett,