Sunday, March 05, 2006

What Tony Blair really said to Mr P

It's quite amusing that there was so much comment yesterday about what Tony Blair was alleged to have said to Michael Parkinson on his chat show. It wasn't broadcast until 10pm GMT so these commentators were relying on a few snippets that reporters had picked up (and puffed up).

There isn't much comment around now after the broadcast probably because it's obvious to anyone who watched it that a proverbial mountain was being made out of a proverbial molehill. There were only a couple of brief mentions of religion in a long conversation. He didn't say he'd been driven to war by religious motives or that God would be his only judge. He did talk about the strain of decision making (circa five a day of which two might be major ones) and he did say that it was for other people and God, rather than for him, to judge his actions.

Not quite how the eager anti-Blair zealots put it. I guess that most of them rarely have to make any decisions of great consequence which is why they can happily be so certain they're right.

John Rentoul in the Independent on Sunday puts it rather well but you'll have to pay to read the best bits (I bought the IoS to get the book to go with the teach yourself Italian CD in yesterday's Independent - so that's my excuse out of the way). Under the title "As God is his witness, Tony Blair did not say what some people think he said" he writes: "It is not news that Blair is a Christian - and it is utterly conventional for Christians to say that God is ultimately their judge. But for those people, many of whom work for the BBC, looking for ulterior motives that explain what is to them the inexplicable decision to go to war, religion is the key."


At 19:24, Blogger Bob Piper said...

I agree the 'god' thing was totally hyped, probably by ITV to try to boost their audience for the boring Parkinson show. Blair shouldn't have to shoulder those decisions alone. That is partly his decision, and partly about the way the system is set up. There is insufficient accountability of the Executive to Parliament, and the Prime Ministers powers of patronage mean that too many people are beholding solely to the PM for a political career. Sharing the burden involves devolving power and decision making.

At 23:00, Blogger Sam said...

This ridiculous situation has actually quite annoyed me: Blair does enough things to warrant criticism on his own, without being torn to pieces over this triviality.

If you believe in God, he says, then you believe that you are answerable to God. Fair enough, this is nothing new, and we did, after all, elect a Christian Prime Minister.

At 10:40, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Bob, Sam

Thanks for your comments. That’s a good point, Bob, about ITV wanting to boost its ratings. According to the IoS it's in deep trouble. Getting the press and all their rival TV channels to publicise their show must have been too good a chance to miss.

Our media (which used to be called ‘the best in the world’ (by our media)) has much to answer for. But, as Mr Blair said in the show, it’s there and there’s nothing to be done about it except to live with it (well that’s my spin on what he said).

Like Bob I have concerns about the power of the executive (and especially of the PM) vs. that of Parliament. This has been creeping on us for decades and again it’s partly the fault of the media which love to personalise and to simplify issues. I remember 'Heath does x' headlines from way back in the 1970s which really should have read 'Government does x'. This isn't too much of a problem for me whilst Mr Blair or Mr Brown remains at the helm (although I guess Bob might not wholly agree (especially about the former?!)) but it gave me many nightmares when Mrs T or Mr M were steering).


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