Sunday, June 18, 2006

Blair the Arse-Licker

I haven't read in its entirety the 22-page handwritten letter from Tony Blair to Michael Foot written on July 28 1982. The letter was unearthed by Robert Taylor among papers donated by Foot to the Peoples History Museum in Manchester, and excerpts are published in the New Statesman (and widely reported in the national press). From what I can see the letter is a simple piece of arse-licking by Blair: then aged 29, having just lost the Beaconsfield by-election, and desperately seeking a safe parliamentary berth. The letter is shamelessly designed to flatter old Footie: Blair appeals to Foot's vanity by praising his book Debts of Honour, and pays homage to Foot's (genuine) enthusiasm for Paine, Swift, and Hazlitt. I very much doubt if Blair at any time really shared Foot's intellectual interests; and his claim to have read Marx "first hand" simply does not ring true: I just don't see Blair reading the Grundrisse in chambers. It is possible Blair - as he claims to - read Deutscher's trilogy on Trotsky (it is very readable). But frankly he does not strike me as the bookish kind. Was Foot taken in? They do say that when it comes to flattery one can never lay it on too thick. But I suspect Foot knew his arse was being licked and was philosophical about it: it probably wasn't the first time. In any case, it seems to have helped Blair. Foot had campaigned for Blair in Beaconsfield, and a commendation from Foot apparently did him no harm when he sought to became Labour candidate in Sedgefield. I can't imagine that Foot is desperately pleased by what Blair has subsequently done to the Labour Party.


Post a Comment

<< Home