Blair calls Brown maddening, his premiership a disaster

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 20:34

London: Former British Prime Minister Tony
Blair says his successor Gordon Brown was a "difficult and
maddening" man with "zero" emotional intelligence and that his
premiership was a "disaster" that was never going to work.

In remarks that could reopen old wounds in the Labour
party, 57-year-old Blair`s long-awaited memoir also says he
doesn`t regret the Iraq war--although he wept for dead
soldiers and civilians--and carries revelations about the
politician`s alcohol use, his interactions with the Queen and
his testy ties with his successor.
In the memoir "A Journey" out today, the charismatic
Blair came down heavily on his rival saying he was
"maddening", "difficult" and wore him down with "relentless
personal pressure", as he unleashed his feelings on his party
colleague`s shortcomings.

Giving readers behind-the-curtain insights into major
world events from the death of Princess Diana to the September
11 attacks in the US and the invasion of Iraq, Blair called
Brown his rival, colleague and successor and went into detail
on "the Gordon problem--the combination of the brilliant and
the impossible".

Blair is much warmer about former US President George W.
Bush, calling him intelligent, "a true idealist" and a man of
integrity.

Labour Party won three straight general elections under
Blair but lost power in May under Brown, who had been finance
minister throughout Blair`s decade in office from 1997.

While acknowledging Brown`s strengths, his succession
was "unwise because it was never going to work," Blair wrote,
adding he lacked the political instinct "at the human gut
level".
"Political calculation, yes. Political feelings, no.
Analytical intelligence, absolutely. Emotional intelligence,
zero."

"It is easy to say now, in the light of his tenure as
prime minister, that I should have stopped it; at the time
that would have been well nigh impossible," Blair wrote in the
book which took him three years to write. At the same time,
Blair said "he was also strong, capable and brilliant" and
those were qualities for which he never lost respect.

He said his party has lost power through abandoning his
"New Labour" centrist, modernising approach..

Unless Brown defined himself thus, his premiership "was
going to be a disaster. I knew it," Blair said.

Blair also wrote about his "anguish" over the Iraq war,
but says still thought it was right to invade and topple
Saddam Hussein in the 2003 invasion.

"I ... regret with every fiber of my being the loss of
those who died."

"Tears, though there have been many, do not encompass
it," he says.

But, he adds, "on the basis of what we do know now, I
still believe that leaving Saddam in power was a bigger risk
to our security than removing him and that, terrible though
the aftermath was, the reality of Saddam and his sons in
charge of Iraq would at least arguably be much worse."

"I can`t regret the decision to go to war," he says.

Blair also says drink became a prop which helped him
relax, although it was not "excessive."

The Labour leader said he drank "a whisky or a gin and
tonic before dinner, then one or two glasses of wine." Blair
said that while he believed he controlled his intake, he had
been aware that drink was becoming “a support."

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 20:34

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