Literature | 01.09.2010
Blair memoirs blast Brown premiership as 'disaster'
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's memoir "A Journey" went on sale Wednesday, revealing severe criticism of his successor Gordon Brown's time as finance minister and prime minister.
Blair, who led the United Kingdom's government from 1997 until his resignation in 2007, said Brown was at times "maddening" and "difficult," and that he had "zero" emotional intelligence. However, he also praised him as "strong, capable and brilliant... qualities for which I never lost respect."
The rivalry between the two men was not a secret, but Blair has never before made such candid and vicious remarks about Brown's character and leadership.
Despite calling Brown's term as prime minister a "disaster," Blair said preventing Brown's ascension to the office was "well-nigh impossible."
Rather than firing Brown and risking destabilization of the government and Labour Party, Blair wrote that "having him inside and constrained was better than outside and let loose or, worse, becoming the figurehead of a far more damaging force well to the left."
'Desperately sorry' for Iraq deaths
In keeping with his consistent defense of his decision to join in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Blair wrote he believed that "leaving Saddam in power was a bigger risk to our security than removing him."
Still, he said he was "desperately sorry" for the deaths the Iraq war caused and admitted that "we did not anticipate the role of al Qaeda or Iran" in planning for the time after invasion.
The release of "A Journey" comes as Blair is traveling to the United States to attend a dinner at the White House opening of a new round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. A prerecorded interview with Blair discussing the book is scheduled to be aired on the BBC on Wednesday.
Blair announced this month that all the profits from his book would be donated to the Royal British Legion, a non-profit organization that aids severely injured war veterans. He reportedly received 4.6 million pounds (5.6 million euros, $7.2 million) as an advance for the book.
Sales are likely to make even more money. Online bookseller Amazon announced the autobiography already ranked 11th on its British list of bestsellers.
Author: Andrew Bowen (AFP/apn)
Editor: Nancy Isenson