Just who is Tony Blair?
This weekend I saw two movies that really made me ponder Tony Blair's pathology.
The first was "Love, Actually" with Hugh Grant playing the Prime Minister. Although I'm aware that Grant's PM is not meant to be Blair, (in fact Grant mentions the previous PM having lots of children running about and a scary wife) it does seem he faces one of the same problems. His staff and cabinet hope he will finally stand up to the U.S. and its boorish toad of a president. He tells them it's in the country's best interest to toe the line. After hand-wringing his way through most of the movie and seeing Billy Bob Thornton (the prez) fondle his girlfriend, he bucks up and delivers a witty and inspirational speech informing the President that he and his country are bullies who will no longer be catered to.
The other movie was "The Queen". Quite a masterpiece of frosty, menacing looks. The PM in this film IS Tony Blair in the week after Diana PoW dies. From the start Blair comes off as a national hero for a witty and inspirational speech while the royals look like clueless, heartless bastards playing upper class twits at Balmoral. Blair's staff, cabinet and wife want him to be a true Labour leader and use the Queen's plummeting popularity to finally toss them out on their asses. While Blair is frustrated and puzzled by the Queen's refusal to acknowlege Diana death to her subjects, he clearly feels sorry for her. He knows the crown killed her father and and he knows that her subjects have turned on her for doing exactly what's been expected of her for more than 50 years.
Should Blair be pilloried for sympathizing and even toadying up to his ideological opponents? Is he betraying his party and principles or recognizing the complexity of power? In the first case, Blair clearly needs to tell Bush to "fuck off." Even before the split government, the only thing Bush would do is shake his head and grin like the trained chimp he is. In the second case, Blair realized after all the emotion cleared, Britain would still need the Queen. They don't need Prince Phillip though. He's a dickhead.