Was No 10 Downing St ever occupied by a more egregious couple than Tony and Cherie Blair?
Just how awful these people are has only become fully apparent with the publication of Mrs Blair’s memoirs, Speaking For Myself. They reveal, among other things, that after she miscarried in 2002, her husband was on the phone straight away to Labour’s ubiquitous PR supremo Alistair Campbell – even as Mrs Blair lay still bleeding and in pain – to discuss how the event should be spun to the media. This appears to have been too much even for Mrs Blair, whom one concludes was otherwise probably a very willing party to her husband’s obsession with public image and media manipulation. Politics and spin, it seems, took precedence over everything, including a personal family tragedy.
Mrs Blair also tells us much more than we want or need to know about her intimate moments with her husband, including the circumstances of their youngest son Leo’s conception at Balmoral Castle. It was cold, she hadn’t packed her “contraceptive equipment”, and “what with one thing and another …” Oh, please. It says a lot about Mrs Blair’s conceit that she (a) feels the need to tell us this, and (b) seems to assume we’re going to get some vicarious, voyeuristic frisson of excitement from knowing what she and her smarmy husband got up to under the tartan duvets at Balmoral.
The historian Paul Johnson dealt with Mrs Blair’s disclosures eloquently in his column in The Spectator. “A tale which might be tolerable, even amusing – or touching – when told, mouth to ear, in gossip, becomes offensively leaden when spelt out on the page and read by countless firesides. All professional writers learn by bitter experience, or helpful censorship by their elders, that there is a rubicon which divides private speech from public print: cross it at your peril.”
The British media portrayed Cherie Blair as vain and grasping. Interviewed by Kim Hill last Saturday, she seemed at pains to show a warmer, human side. But I suspect the British media read her correctly. The best that can be hoped for is that this ghastly couple will now vanish from public view, but it seems unlikely.