Comment at end
2nd January 2012
Happy New Year to all! Let’s hope it’s better than the old one.
London's world-famous clock tower, commonly known as Big Ben, seems to explode in a blaze of fireworks. Guy Fawkes would have been proud.
The oddly timed news (rather leak – the broadcaster itself didn’t tell us) that the hallowed BBC was doing interviews ready for Tony Blair’s eventual obituary (yes he’ll have to go one day like the rest of us – no way out of that way out) raised a few eyebrows when it broke at The Sun.
Tony Blair at an event in London, beginning of December, 2011
For the record I saw Mr Blair in recent weeks and he didn’t look at all as though he was even approaching death’s door. But questionably untimely as is this scour around to record snips from presumably the usual suspects – in case they pop off before he does – it has some rhyme and reason. Quentin Letts’s reasons for his atrocious piece of work are far less excusable.
Let’s do Letts later, as it were.
The BBC MUST be prepared. After all their broadcasting outfit is a near monopoly and bears a lot of responsibility for being right up there with the latest, so to speak. The BBC is the largest broadcaster in the world with the world’s largest broadcast news organisation and a reach in Britain of more than all the other British media outlets put together.
Aside : Despite this my request several weeks ago to the Leveson “Press” Inquiry as to whether or not broadcasters too are being looked into remains unanswered.
Since 73% get their news from TV, with the BBC supplying 70% of all TV news, the Beeb certainly has some responsibility; and some power.
It would never do if in say 20/30/40 years time when the time comes to remind us all about Tony Blair and the life and reasons for (successes & not to mention failings of the then late lamented) to find such as Tam Dalyell, Tony Benn, Clare Short and George Galloway had already popped their clogs. Oh tragedy – true, utter, real tragedy! Not one of them to be found opining liberally on the Commons grassy bits .
The horror! Bereft indeed!
Dig out the archives, replay the video clips. Find SOMEthing … ANYthing to remind the waiting, wailing punters of… you know the rest.
Just a little background aside or three on some likely interviewees. Come back to the below later if you prefer.
YORICK TONY! I KNEW HIM …
So the usual suspects and perhaps even a few sensible types have got their er… tributes in first. In the can; on the record; ready for the big day when we can all find out how and why the most electorally successful Labour leader ever was such a … what’s the word … oh yes, failure.
I DO realise that this writing up of early obituaries is common practice, just in case. Since Mr Blair is just 58 it may be a decade or several premature. I discount immediately perceived “threats” to him as suggested by someone here. The BBC may be at times illiberal with the verity but it is not a killer setup regardless of Jeremy Paxman’s cross-media article (let’s pretend it’s about his fave pic) inadvertently I’m sure, rousing would-be assassin types who hang out at the rough corners of the Guardian of the TROOF. As if, eh?
But nor do I imagine this BBC obituary will be a quick two-minute snip mourning a senior statesman’s demise. Instead it will be a programme-length exhortation – or perhaps a series – as to what NOT to do with power. While of course explaining in no unbiased terms as to why exactly Mr Blair was such a ‘disappointment’ (to some.)
BBC ANTI-BLAIR BIAS
Why, I hear you ask, don’t I completely trust the BBC’s motives in recording, collecting, editing and collating ‘alas poor Tony! …’ wails from the affected… er… effected?
It’s very simple.
I have watched over many years as the BBC’s anti-Blair/anti-Iraq war bias has shone through almost every news item: analysis pouring knowledgeably from the lips of assuredly informed Today broadcasters; echoed and chiming in a cacophony of Newnights; muddling through middle-class mumblings at Any Questions masterclasses; chattering classily through quirky Question Times; not to mention Panoramically looking to let’s-put-things-right oh so liberally-leftily in that self-important overseeing seewetoldyou way.
All BBC gems undimmed in their omniscience due usually to the orchestrated absence of the airing of balancing countervailing arguments from any not quite liberal intelligentsia types among us.
‘I KNOW I KNEW HIM NOW. BUT WILL I KNOW HIM THEN?‘
Put aside that it is clear that despite often being accused by the political right of being too “left” the BBC and its commenters and broadcasters are, with a few honourable exceptions, against the Iraq war. Thus it follows anti-Blair. Beseeching us for understanding, as though they had mistakenly cheerled for Hitler, they have the humility – nay – lofty self-flagellation and deserved meekness to make it clear they can’t apologise enough. Especially because he won’t.
Thing is, even if Blair is/was of “the left”, his having been a Labour PM actually makes it so much easier for them to put on their earnest lefty luvvie tones – ‘sorry we didn’t realise/he seemed so nice’.
Has the BBC considered there is an issue in recording opinions on a late lamented who isn’t yet late even if, by some, seriously lamented? The man himself might outlive many of them. There may well be far more to be said about him than that he joined in on a war they did not like. On second thoughts – they clearly have considered that.
En passant – it’s been reported that a 24 year-old former drugs-dealing gang member has just been awarded an OBE in the News Years Honours List. For turning round his life in an acceptable way he has been rewarded. How on earth does that compare to the work already being done by Tony Blair all over the world through his Faith Foundation, Climate Group, African Governance Initiative to name but some? Not that I think he’s looking for a gong, but where is Tony Blair’s award? Where is his recognition for decades spent in public service?
And in decades to come will today’s OB units filming GG’s words REALLY do the man justice?
I conclude not.
There is one issue which is harder still to get one’s innocent head around.
How can such as Tam Dalyell (if indeed he is one with a starring role) talk today about a future deceased Mr Blair in tones which will have any pertinence when that sad day comes? After all it’s a different thing to talk today of someone yet warm than it may be on that cold distant morn. So how?
Only, might I suggest to Dalyell/Galloway clones, by being asked about matters they feel strongly about today: Iraq, in other words. And who knows how the world and even today’s MPs will feel about Iraq in 20/30/40 years time?
So, yes I am suspicious about the filming of MPs re Tony Blair’s inevitable, eventual televised obituary. Not because I think they expect him to die any time soon, but because I think they expect him NOT to. They can’t dare allow him and the passing of time here and in Iraq to change perceptions. Not when such as Gorgeous George are still around to “balance” things by reminding us how evil was the man. (Not Saddam, silly, but Tony Blair the remover of that ‘indefatigability‘.)
Look – I’m fed up with this already. And I’ve hardly touched on Letts. Cant imagine how YOU feel!
I’ll write on Letts later, if he hasn’t by then been found dead in a “small shed” somewhere. Methane accruement in his particular case should take about ten minutes.
In which case, I suppose I’ll have to do an obituary.
What a stinker.
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1. I completely agree with everything that has been said on this website. As Prime Minister, Tony Blair worked tirelessly and selflessly in the interests of the people, and continues to do so today. He is primarily a humanitarian, and doesn’t deserve any of the vitriol that has been levelled at him. He was a great Prime Minister, is a thoroughly decent man; and should in my opinion, be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding work. – David Miliband (New Labour’s heir) for the next PM!
2. Best politician in Britain by a long way.
3. Fully support the petition. The criticism of Mr Blair has gone way beyond anything acceptable and seems to be carried out mainly by those who are looking to wash their hands of any involvement in supporting the Iraq war at the time. It is very easy to be ‘wise after the event’ and to make assumptions about how much Mr Blair knew or did not know before the war. In these people’s eyes, the former PM is guilty whatever the evidence.
4. An excellent petition this for a very undervalued PM. A PM who is not only the best in my lifetime but my parents lifetime too!
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