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Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs

17 July 2008
Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... by its most senior diplomat, the former ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer; and now memoirs by the former prime minister’s wife, his deputy and his bagman. The granddaddy of them all, Blair’s own memoirs, are still to come. It is an unprecedented cascade of memoirs by prominent figures in a government which is, let’s not forget, still in power. The phenomenon seemed odd when it ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: Melanie Phillips

13 May 2010
... Comte, Marx, Bergson, William James, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Gramsci, Rowan Williams, Richard Dawkins, liberation theologians, Princess Diana, Professor Nutt, someone called Matthew Fox, Madonna, CherieBlair – and Barack Obama. Nor is our gratitude due for her elucidation of why human beings are not in any way responsible for climate change, which her selected ‘real’ evidence shows isn’t ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out

4 June 1998
... 10 June 1993. Fellow-guests with Tony and CherieBlair at a BBC dinner. Blair says immediately to my wife: ‘Weren’t you kind enough to ask me to a drinks party for Frank Field’s 50th birthday?’ She answers: ‘Yes, and you neither came nor replied.’ ‘Didn’t I ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities

15 November 2007
The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... to the inner circles of New Labour. As well as there having been no pesky research to slow down the writing of the novel, there was also a strong imperative to publish it as soon as possible: Tony Blair’s topicality is on the wane. The Ghost is self-consciously concerned with the logic of publicity and sales, the pressure to get the former prime minister’s memoirs out there as soon as possible ...

Mirror Images

Jenny Diski: Piers Morgan

31 March 2005
The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade 
by Piers Morgan.
Ebury, 484 pp., £17.99, March 2005, 0 09 190506 0
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... narrative is entirely about being taken seriously by Elton John, Princess Diana, George Michael, Anthea Turner, Richard Branson, Paul McCartney, Patsy Kensit, Ian Botham, Jordan, Mohammed al Fayed, CherieBlair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair. (If there are names in that list you haven’t heard of, don’t worry, none of them matters as much as they think they do.) At a Christmas ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour

5 April 2001
Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... result in a damaging headline in the Sun or the Mail. This ultra-sensitivity has inevitably increased the importance of the media managers. When the Northern Ireland negotiations got serious Tony Blair took Alistair Campbell into the room with him and insisted that Mo Mowlam remain outside. David Trimble was astonished but that’s how it always is with New Labour. Andrew Rawnsley records how the ...
14 November 2016
... is this: when Bill and Hillary arrived in Washington in 1992 they had little money. Now, despite remaining notionally in public service throughout, they are worth many millions of dollars. Tony and CherieBlair were not obscenely wealthy when they arrived in power in 1997. Today they are worth more than $75 million. Consider the working-class voters whom the Clintons or the Blairs exhorted to vote for ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair​ v. Brown

2 November 2006
... During Liars’ Week at the Labour Party Conference last month – when Gordon pretended that he still had a lot of time for Tony, on hearing which Cherie said that’s a lie, but being overheard herself had to deny she’d said any such thing, though the next day Tony more or less admitted that her denial wasn’t to be trusted either, before going on ...

Up the Garden Path

R.W. Johnson: Michael Foot

26 April 2007
Michael Foot: A Life 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Harper, 568 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 0 00 717826 1
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... how cosy. It seems unfair to bracket Glenys Kinnock, say, with Beatrice Webb and Margaret Cole, both of whom were serious intellectuals, and I can’t get used to the idea of a pantheon that includes CherieBlair, with or without her lifestyle adviser. Or Jim Callaghan, that dire waxwork who embodied the terrible fate of the old dreams of social democracy: Tom Nairn’s phrase about ‘the full medicine ...

I blame Foucault

Jenny Diski: Bush’s women

22 September 2005
Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species 
by Laura Flanders.
Verso, 342 pp., £10, July 2005, 1 84467 530 0
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... country that cannot use the word ‘abortion’? Even Flanders describes people as being ‘pro-choice’ or ‘anti-choice’.) Condoleezza Rice and her fellow Bushwomen (and Hillary Clinton and CherieBlair) went on emergency hypocrisy duty during the bombing of Afghanistan and Iraq to tell their too morally fastidious sisters of the need to liberate the women of those countries from the ...

Deadly Embrace

Jacqueline Rose: Suicide bombers

4 November 2004
My Life Is a Weapon: A Modern History of Suicide Bombing 
by Christoph Reuter, translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby.
Princeton, 246 pp., £15.95, May 2004, 0 691 11759 4
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Army of Roses: Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers 
by Barbara Victor.
Robinson, 321 pp., £8.99, April 2004, 1 84119 937 0
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... she used – ‘If I had to’ – is crucial. She was not sympathising: she was trying to imagine what it was like to be a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories. (She condemned the bombings.) When CherieBlair said in June 2002, ‘As long as young people feel they have got no hope but to blow themselves up you are never going to make progress,’ Downing Street apologised. What need never be ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Blair​ on Blincoe?

21 March 2002
... bad novel, and involved several scenes that might have been included in White Mice.’ That last sentence is worth reading twice. And here at the LRB, we thought: who better to send it to than Tony Blair? After all, he’s contributed to the paper in the past. In October 1987, when he sat on the Opposition front bench as Labour’s Spokesman on Trade and Industry, he said in an LRB Diary: ‘There is ...
8 April 2015
... were killed. If this isn’t disorder, what is? In the case of Afghanistan, everyone knows what was actually behind this grand attempt, as the US and Britain put it, to ‘modernise’ the country. CherieBlair and Laura Bush said it was a war for women’s liberation. If it had been, it would have been the first in history. We now know what it really was: a crude war of revenge which failed because ...

Four Funerals and a Wedding

Andrew O’Hagan: If something happens to me…

5 May 2005
... The coffin had layers too, cypress and zinc inside oak, and was flanked by scarlet cardinals who themselves were flanked by purple bishops and black-clad dignitaries, in the folds of which stood CherieBlair with her mantilla blowing in the wind, and further in again, the Bushes looking bored and slightly vexed as they always do abroad, him especially, forever scanning the middle distance for un ...

More ‘out’ than ‘on’

Glen Newey: Chris Mullin’s Diaries

27 August 2009
A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin 
by Chris Mullin.
Profile, 590 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 1 84668 223 0
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... in the division lobbies. Parliamentary under-secretaries get their mouths stuffed with gold, or at least with an extra £27,000 a year – as Mullin is reminded by the astoundingly mercenary Cherie Booth after leaving office. The price of accepting is to swell the payroll vote, and spout stultifying drivel. In 1999, Blair calls to offer Mullin a post as a bottom-ranking minister. First he ...

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