Tony Blair, Winston Churchill, Prince George and World Cup bikinis

Monday 23 June 2014

Or is it? Against all received wisdom I sense a change in the weather.

This week Boris Johnson described Blair’s latest commentary on the Middle East meltdown as “bonkers”. Other former political friends and allies say the former prime minister “went mad” in his last days in office and has a “Messiah complex”. Hmm.

I am always suspicious when those who wish to decry the opinions of others take the timeless short-cut of describing them as mad, out to lunch, raving or... well, bonkers. “They’re insane!” is the oldest dismissive accusation in the book. It’s lazy groupthink and it can be applied where desired anywhere across the political spectrum. Hitler was “insane”, wasn’t he? No he certainly wasn’t. He was cunning, manipulative and wicked but insane? Not unless you equate perverted morality with insanity, and most psychologists don’t.

Not, of course, that I’m comparing Blair’s recent treatment at the bar of political and media opinion with Hitler’s. But there are some parallels with Churchill’s.

Churchill had a rotten time of it in the 1930s; the so-called “wilderness years”. His catastrophic Gallipoli campaign of 1915 cast a long shadow, as Iraq does over Blair now, and Churchill’s warnings about Hitler’s National Socialism were mostly dismissed as the ravings of an old, tired, discredited, disappointed politician – and a warmonger to boot. Indeed almost until the very outbreak of the Second World War Winston was reviled on the Left and Right of British politics. The centre liked to put the boot in too.

Read Richard and Judy's Daily Express column in full here.
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