Today is the day, the day that many of us with a fondness for buying political books have been waiting for: the publication of Tony Blair’s memoirs: A Journey. Frustrated as I am that my pre-ordered copy did not arrive in the morning post, I was delighted to be able to read some short edited extracts published on the book’s website.
For those who are not so enamoured with the idea of reading a book by our former prime minister but want a quick idea of what he has said, the BBC has published some key quotes on its website. I list a few of them below but the BBC has more:
On 2 May 1997, I walked into Downing Street as PM for the first time. I had never held office, not even as the most junior of junior ministers. It was my first and only job in government.
Was he difficult, at times maddening? Yes. But he was also strong, capable and brilliant, and those were qualities for which I never lost respect.
ROWS WITH GORDON BROWN
I’m afraid I stopped taking his calls. Poor Jon [an adviser] would come in and say: “The chancellor really wants to speak to you.” I would say: “I am really busy, Jon.” And he would say: “He is really demanding it.” Then I would say: ‘I’ll call him soon.” And Jon would say: “Do you really mean that, prime minister?” And I would say: “No, Jon.”
At that moment, I felt eerily calm despite being naturally horrified at the devastation, and aware this was not an ordinary event but a world-changing one. It was not America alone who was the target, but all of us who shared the same values. We had to stand together.
GEORGE W BUSH
I had come to like and admire George. I was asked recently which of the political leaders I had met had the most integrity. I listed George near the top. Some people were aghast… thinking I was joking. He had genuine integrity and as much political courage as any leader I ever met. He was, in a bizarre sense… a true idealist.
I am unable to satisfy the desire even of some of my supporters, who would like me to say: it was a mistake but one made in good faith. Friends opposed to the war think I’m being obstinate; others, less friendly, think I’m delusional. To both I may say: keep an open mind.
As a bonus, for those interested in Tony Blair and his years in power, BBC2 shall broadcast a major interview with him conducted by Andrew Marr this evening at 7.00pm.
Kiran Stacey at the Financial Times has condensed 718 pages of Tony Blair’s book into five paragraphs. And they are a very amusing five paragraphs.
Lucy Manning informs us via her tweet that “Waterstone’s says never seen anything like it for sales of political book.”