How mad was Tony Blair?
It is always gratifying to have your suspicions confirmed: thanks to reader Derek for emailing over this fascinating extract in today's Sunday Times from a forthcoming book In Sickness and in Power: Illness in Heads of Government During the Last 100 Years, by David Owen.Lord Owen was a doctor before he became foreign secretary.
A senior official recalls that when Blair was advised about the difficulties ahead, he would respond: “You are Neville Chamberlain, I am Winston Churchill and Saddam is Hitler.” It is difficult to conduct a serious dialogue with a leader thinking in this emotional and simplistic way.
A secret memorandum dated July 23, 2002, published in The Sunday Times, described a meeting on Iraq at which, inter alia, the chief of the defence staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, told Blair that the military “were continuing to ask lots of questions”. Yet in conversation with me over dinner the day after this meeting, Blair was dismissive of any difficulties and trying to give me the impression that it was all being dealt with. This was not ordinary incompetence, it was hubristic incompetence. He was becoming immune to all arguments about the practical difficulties that might ensue.
He doesn't seem any better these days: today's Observer has Andrew Rawnsley on the post-PM's office still manic Blair, who by all accounts, just can't say no.