Tony Blair: is the strain beginning to tell?

Seven years in No. 10 Downing Street and two major wars: the grinning, boyish Tony Blair who entered No. 10 on that glad, confident morning in 1997, those double-handed hand-shakes with the adoring crowd, the high hopes — all that suddenly seems a very long time ago. The tired, haggard prime minister who came out into the press room to face the cameras and the hacks to record his congratulations to George W Bush, immediately after the US presidential election result had become known, could have been another person altogether: receding hair, lined face, grim expression, reading his prepared statement with a dying fall in every sentence, turning immediately to leave the room when he had finished it, ignoring the frantic interrogative shouts of the journalists. He looked much the same at his brief press conference in Washington with a President Bush who, for the first time, looked years younger than the British prime minister;

Tony Blair after the Washington visit Posted by Hello

the only wan smile came at the end when he turned to urge Bush not to say ‘Yes’ after a journalist had asked the President whether he regarded Blair as his poodle.

Can it be that a political leader whose hallmark until now has been his phenomenal self-belief, the absence of any scintilla of doubt about the rightness of every decision he makes, whose every belief is “passionate”, whose values and morality are governed by his religious faith — can he have begun at last to ask himself what he has done?

Iraq, November 2004 Posted by Hello

We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him,
Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
Made him our pattern to live and to die!

We shall march prospering, – not through his presence;
Songs may inspirit us, – not from his lyre;
Deeds will be done, – while he boasts his quiescence,
Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
One more triumph for devils and sorrow for angels,
One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
Life`s night begins: let him never come back to us!
There would be doubt, hesitation and pain,
Forced praise on our part – the glimmer of twilight,
Never glad confident morning again!

— Robert Browning, The Lost Leader, Dramatic Romances and Lyrics (1845).

13 November 2004

6 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    …the strain is clearly on – are you aware that there is

    “A group of MPs declared their intention to bring a motion of impeachment against the Prime Minister for High Crimes and Misdemeanours in relation to the invasion of Iraq. The charges are based on evidence presented in a report commissioned by Adam Price MP entitled ‘A Case to Answer’.”

    The excellent, forensic, report is available for download at

    MP’s backing this move include Peter Bottomley (C), Alex Salmond (SNP),George Galloway
    (Lab – exp), John Gummer (C),Douglas Hogg (C), Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid),Jenny Tonge (Lib)

    Stands no chance of passing in the house, of course, – however both the report and debate (if there is one) will help draw a clear attention to the problems with Blairs assertions then and now!

  2. Brian says:

    Yes, indeed. It will be interesting to see whether the Speaker accepts that the impeachment procedure is still in operation (in which case I think he will have to agree to a debate) or whether he will rule that impeachment has become extinct through disuse, in which case he won’t.

    The impeachment document is, as you say, a useful and rather impressive document.


  3. Brian says:

    PS: Rather sinister! The impeachment website,, is “no longer available”, as of 23 November 04. Luckily, Google has cached it and I have saved it from the cache — e-mail me at brianbarder[at]compuserve[dot]com if you want me to send it to you. The valuable impeachment document, which was at, has also mysteriously disappeared from the web. Equally fortunately, I downloaded and saved it some time ago and shall be happy to send it as an e-mail attachment (it’s a .pdf file, 316 KB) to anyone who wants it. If it doesn’t reappear soon, I might put it on my website (). Remind me to pack a toothbrush for use in the Tower.

    What is going on?

    23 Nov 04

  4. Anonymous says:

    Looks like is back up…
    guess it was just a technical snafu rather than Blunket’s boys in the Black Hats 🙂

  5. Thanks for the references. Great fun this impeachment thing, but just a game. If Parliament and especially of course the Labour Party have not used any of the available procedures, formal and informal, to express evn a monitory opinion, we need not expect a motion of impeachment to do other than strengthen TB’s position by its defeat. Doea anyone, even George Galloway or Boris, seriously envisage the Commons turning to the Lords for a verdict. (I did though like the case of Strafford, executed under an Act of Attainder. Hmm.)