By the time Tony Blair stood down as prime minister to give his rival Gordon Brown the opportunity to lose office ignominiously, he had become as unpopular on the left as he had always been on the right. A Journey is his attempt to explain himself, not so much to what he calls, alternately, “the Daily Mail/Guardian alliance” and “the demonic rabble tearing at my limbs,” but to those millions who so fecklessly voted him into office three times in succession. It is accordingly written in a chirpy, “accessible” manner emblematic of Blair’s governments, which hid ambition behind cheesy informality.
The author deploys a battery of weapons of mass distraction. The text is festooned with clichés—on the first page we meet “times gone by,” “Olympian heights,” and “mere mortals.” Then there is bragging: “I had long ago discovered the first lesson of political courage—to think anew.”
“I counted, was a big player.” There is false humility, when confessed foibles become virtues: “There was a naivety about my belief that merely by adopting an approach based on reason and the abstinence from ideological dogma, hard problems can be solved.”
“I am very, even excessively, loyal to friends . . . ”
“[M]y greatest weakness: I am normal . . . ”