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Self-Justification

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In an interview with Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tony Blair told an audience packed with eastern seaboard celebrities how he is writing his memoirs. ‘Instead of doing this as “I met such and such five world leaders on such and such a day and they said such and such,”’ he explained, ‘I’m writing it more as, if you like, a personal journey. This is how, as a human being, how I felt and I thought and why I acted as I did.’ Presumably he added the caveat ‘as a human being’ partly to remind his audience that he definitely isn’t the poodle or robot that some said he was when he followed Bush into Iraq.

Blair, who appears unable to have his fill of social life in New York, said his memoirs wouldn’t be ‘a means of sort of self-justification’. Of course not. There’s no ‘point in getting into that’. Though actually it seems as if there’s to be quite a bit of self-justification after all: ‘What did I learn and what are those lessons for the future? . . . What it’s like to be in one of the very senior positions of authority and power, which is an enormous privilege but a hugely onerous responsibility? And how does it actually affect you personally?’ At least Barbara Walters, the presenter of the sappy daytime chat show The View, was impressed. ‘I’ve found this exchange tonight one of the most fascinating I’ve ever seen,’ she said.

Michael Horgan, the Vanity Fair correspondent who wrote up the evening at MoMA for the magazine’s web site, concluded: ‘The night ended with a question about causes for optimism around the world. Blair said he sees many, in fact.’ He didn’t say whether he saw any in the country he used to be prime minister of. The party that he led is now possibly the least inspiring political entity on earth. Gordon Brown may be (nominally) in charge of the Labour Party, but it got to where it is thanks to Blair.

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