Monday, May 07, 2007
Wilby On Blairography
Man without a shadow
No other leader has given more thought to his public image, and had so much written about him while in office. Yet what makes Tony Blair tick, and what he stands for, have eluded all his biographers. Will the prime minister, who rose without a trace, now leave none behind him, asks Peter Wilby
Saturday May 5, 2007
It is easy now to forget what a blank slate Tony Blair was when he became prime minister in 1997. In common with all but four of his cabinet, he had never held ministerial office of any kind. But nor (unlike Gordon Brown) had he been a student politician, nor (unlike Jack Straw) a ministerial adviser, nor (unlike David Blunkett) a local councillor, nor (unlike John Prescott) a union official. He was not even a prefect at school. At Oxford, he was almost invisible. As Anthony Seldon, the most painstakingly thorough of his biographers, puts it, "he did not become president of the Oxford Union, nor a leading actor, nor a sportsman, nor a well-known young legal blood, nor a debater". His subsequently famous band, Ugly Rumours, did barely half a dozen gigs. He did not join the university Labour Club and, even after he joined the party in 1975, rose no higher than assistant branch secretary, failing to get adopted as a local council candidate. When he fought a by-election in 1982 - losing his deposit in the safe Tory seat of Beaconsfield - he spoke in public for the first time.
What makes Tony Blair tick, therefore, has always been elusive. Nothing he did before the early 1980s caused anyone to remember anything important about him. Assessments of Blair cannot draw on any significant record of pre-parliamentary achievement, any youthful history of arguing through political principles with close friends and comrades, or any early statements of philosophy and beliefs.
This was not the only difficulty for the authors of the books considered here. Though biographies of serving prime ministers are nothing new - an "interim biography" of Clement Attlee was published in 1948 by none other than Roy Jenkins, then an obscure Labour backbencher - the amount published on Blair and Margaret Thatcher, during their terms of leadership and office, far exceeds anything on their predecessors. More relaxed official attitudes to ministers and civil servants giving interviews to journalists, the rise of the political adviser charged with ensuring that ministers' views and intentions are understood by the public, the decline of social inhibitions on divulging confidences (or, put another way, the increased acceptability of gossip and tittle-tattle) and the enormous growth of media scrutiny - all these have increased the volume of material available to contemporary biographers and historians. The authors' problem is to evaluate this material in an age when politicians and their advisers have given far more thought to "spinning" their public image than they did in the past.
The readers' problem is even greater. Inevitably, all these books rely at least to some extent on non-attributable interviews (where the writer can use direct quotes without identifying the source). Five of them - John Kampfner's Blair's Wars, Andrew Rawnsley's Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour, John Rentoul's Tony Blair: Prime Minister, Peter Riddell's The Unfulfilled Prime Minister: Tony Blair's Quest for a Legacy and Philip Stephens's Tony Blair: The Price of Leadership - are written by parliamentary lobby journalists; to say that they are accustomed to using non-attributable information without over-zealous questioning of the source's veracity is not to denigrate their professional abilities. Of the others, three - Leo Abse's Tony Blair: The Man Who Lost His Smile, Simon Jenkins's Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts and Geoffrey Wheatcroft's Yo, Blair! - are written from partisan positions to make a polemical point. Peter Hennessy - author of The Prime Minister: The Office and its Holders Since 1945 - is a hybrid, a former journalist, who specialised in covering the inner workings of Whitehall, turned professor of contemporary history.
Francis Beckett and David Hencke's The Survivor: Tony Blair in Peace and War is even more of a hybrid. Hencke is an experienced Westminster journalist, though one noted more for his muckraking than for his work on the routine lobby beat. Beckett has worked as a journalist, as a non-academic 20th-century historian (who has written several good biographies of past politicians, including Attlee) and, most interestingly, as a press officer, mainly for trade unions and the Labour party. The resulting book, therefore, illuminates much about Blair's rise to power that the others don't, because Beckett, almost alone among these authors, has first-hand knowledge of the sometimes arcane processes of union and Labour politics. (Abse has similar knowledge, but makes less use of it.) Nevertheless, it is essentially an anti-Blair polemic.
Only Anthony Seldon, a public school history teacher and now a head rather than an academic, attempts pure contemporary history, using a team of seven researchers to collect evidence, mainly from interviews, and then evaluating it in Blair. The result, from an author who has previously written mainly about the Conservative party and its leaders, is admirably even-handed and often insightful. But it frequently suffers from Seldon's lack of day-to-day contact with Westminster and his unfamiliarity with Labour and its leading figures.
Contemporary history and biography dates quickly, and all these books will be superseded, particularly once the memoirs and diaries of the main actors, such as Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell, are published. But, with the possible exceptions of Abse and Wheatcroft (entertainingly written from old Labour and old Tory viewpoints respectively), all are likely to provide some valuable insights for historians, and even those two have the merits of expressing the raw bitterness of traditionalists, of all types, at how Blair in particular and New Labour in general have been so careless of the things they hold precious. Whether historians can ever make more sense of what Blair truly stands for is another matter.
We can, from these accounts, compile a provisional narrative of why the Blair premiership turned out as it did and how the prime minister's personality influenced events. That will be the narrative from which future historians start, revising or elaborating as necessary. But they will find a persistent difficulty: because the pre-leadership material is so thin, in the political sense at least, the tendency in all these books is to read Blair backwards, to assess his personality and motives in the light of later events. The most striking example is the extraordinary account by Abse, MP for Pontypool until 1987. First published in 1996 as The Man Behind the Smile, it was revised in 2003 as The Man Who Lost His Smile. Abse attempts to psychoanalyse Blair, arguing that he is a classic victim of childhood trauma and that this explains his "evasion of confrontation and his accompanying manipulative placatory style". Blair's father, Leo, suffered a stroke that, for a period, rendered him speechless. Since all children unconsciously harbour death wishes against their fathers, argues Abse, the young Blair, seeing his wishes all but fulfilled, must have suffered crushing guilt. Moreover, after his father's recovery, he must have feared that more confrontation would provoke another "murder". This explains why he cannot fight the "undeserving privileged" and displaces his aggression on to distant enemies in Kosovo, Sierra Leone or Iraq.
Jenkins, in a book which argues that Blair is more of a Thatcherite than Margaret Thatcher, describes him as "an outsider with neither hinterland nor destination". His family background was "that of a communist turned Tory, lower-middle-class turned upper- middle-class, Scots, Irish and north-eastern, yet somehow metropolitan". Other writers, noting Blair's childhood years in Adelaide, his informal style and his respect for Rupert Murdoch, see him as, at heart, an Aussie. Wheatcroft, whose Yo, Blair! is essentially an extended Daily Mail op-ed, detects "an antipodean aversion to flummery and deference", but no "respect for tradition, sense of history, reverence for custom". Seldon thinks "Australian people, and culture" had "a profound influence". Since Blair was barely five when the family returned home, this seems unlikely.
With few exceptions, anyone who writes about Blair is forced to the reluctant conclusion that what is really at the core of him is Christianity. This idea is so unfamiliar in English politics, and so distasteful to most metropolitan journalists, that only Seldon comes seriously to grips with it. Blair "conceptualises the world as a struggle between good and evil", he writes.
Blair was confirmed into the Church of England at university when he would have known that his mother - who, unlike his father, was a believer - was dying of throat cancer. His faith, far from being an affectation, is likely therefore to be the driving force of his life. All his biographers accept that he is a consummate actor, but none seriously questions his religious faith. Piety, after all, is not incompatible with a theatrical career. "God was far and away the most significant discovery of his life," write Beckett and Hencke, whose hostile account acknowledges Blair's sincerity, particularly on Iraq.
The difficulty is to know how the Christianity influences the politics. Blair himself is reluctant to talk about his religion and, as Rentoul, one of the earliest biographers, points out, even his best friend at Oxford didn't know of his confirmation. Only after John Smith, himself a Christian socialist, became Labour leader did Blair's religion become at all visible to political colleagues and the wider public. Not until 1996, when he was interviewed in the Sunday Telegraph, did he give it a significant outing. After that, his press secretary Alastair Campbell closed the subject down: "We don't do God," he said, fearing that his boss might be portrayed as either an unworldly dreamer or a sanctimonious hypocrite.
Stephens argues that Blair's religion was fundamental to his premiership and that his true political inspiration was William Gladstone. Iraq was not a distraction from his premiership, but the defining moment of his leadership, when the thespian, the ruthless pragmatist and the practitioner of low politics were put, as it were, to good use, in the service of "the 19th-century leader of conscience".
Stephens insists that religious faith explains Blair's actions. Seldon, though by no means a hostile biographer, sees him rather "shoehorning his policies in to fit the principles retrospectively". His inner team in Downing Street, Seldon and his research team found, saw his Christianity as "an add-on, an enigma that is neither much discussed nor valued nor comprehended". Where religion is important to Blair, in Seldon's judgment, is in providing inner reassurance that he is doing right. He believes that "he alone can resolve difficulties" and "more subtly ... that in him alone all differences can be synthesised". He engages with critics, but only in the belief that he can persuade them. "In this sense at least," concludes Seldon, "his faith has narrowed him, and made him less willing to listen ... His convictions also made it very hard for him to admit that he has ever done anything wrong."
To Wheatcroft, this is the key to Blair, and it explains the sleaze, the spin, the warmongering, the lying, the dumping of Peter Mandelson and other old allies, and no doubt the willingness (Wheatcroft himself didn't think of this one, but Beckett and Hencke did) to see even his own wife trashed by Downing Street staff over her friendship with Carole Caplin and her purchase of flats in Bristol. Wheatcroft quotes the biblical saw that "to the pure, all things are pure" and compares him to "those heretics who thought that, if you were of the elect, you eat, drink and merrily fornicate in the certainty of salvation".
But this does not quite explain why a prime minister who aimed so high achieved, if not little, far less than he and others expected. For that, we have to turn to the authors who are intimately familiar with the inner workings of both Westminster and Whitehall: Rawnsley and Riddell, political columnists for the Observer and Times respectively, as well as Hennessy.
Rawnsley tells what he describes as "a human story" about a small group - "each one of them fantastically gifted but also highly peculiar" - who underwent "the immense bonding experience" of taking control of a party and then of a country. His account, published in 2000 and therefore confined to the first term, is usually considered favourable to New Labour, yet its revelations of how Blair and his team approached government are extraordinarily damning.
The picture Rawnsley presents is of an inexperienced government in permanent panic and almost wholly paralysed by fear: fear of not being re-elected, fear of economic crisis, fear of rebellious old Labour MPs, fear of the civil service, fear of the press, fear of repeating their party's past mistakes, fear above all that they simply weren't up to the job. "New Labour ever had a palpitating heart," writes Rawnsley. Blair may always have known in his heart that he would do the right thing but, in domestic affairs at least, he didn't always know what the right thing was or how to do it. The specific policy promises were modest, to the point of being mundane. Blair would, however, make a nicer, happier, kinder society, though also one that was more youthful, modern and dynamic. The NHS would be saved, schools and universities made "world-class", the constitution streamlined, the leadership of Europe grasped. Blair promised national renewal, a spiritual experience, not a political one.
But what Rawnsley calls "the vaulting scope" of New Labour's ambitions added to the fear of getting it all wrong. Blair and his acolytes fell into a Leninist style of government. "Within New Labour," a senior civil servant told Rawnsley, "they were a revolutionary cell within the party ... [they] were used to working intimately together with as few people as possible privy to their secrets. They wanted to carry on like that in government."
What this meant is spelt out by Hennessy and Riddell: the biggest centralisation of Whitehall power in peacetime. The old model of cabinet government, an official told Hennessy, was "dead as a doornail". Cabinet meetings had no formal agenda, few papers and insufficient time for discussion. Members of Blair's personal team were allowed to give orders to civil servants. Yet Downing Street gathered all this power to itself without knowing how to use the machinery of government to make anything happen. As Rawnsley puts it, Blair is an artist (some would say a dreamer), not an engineer. The defining image, a close adviser told Rawnsley, was the Monday-morning strategy meeting at which Blair would scream: "What are we doing about health? What are we doing about crime? What are we doing about transport?" And nothing would happen.
"What he wants is results," Hennessy was told. "He has a feel for the policies but not how the results come. He finds it hard to understand why things can't happen immediately." Moreover, Blair lacked the resource levers that Gordon Brown - another centralist, but one with more feel for the mechanics of government - had available to him in the Treasury.
It was precisely because Blair tried to run so much that he achieved so little. Not only did he attempt to accrue all government power to himself, he also tried to take it into new areas, setting targets for smoking, obesity, drinking and teenage pregnancy, to give just a few examples. As Riddell observes drily, "what ministers say has run well ahead of what they can do".
The lack of a guiding philosophy made Blair's government even less likely to work. Ministers and civil servants, writes Rawnsley, "need a sure map to guide the myriad decisions they make each day". Otherwise, they are at the mercy of random events and a media-driven agenda. As Stephens explains, most politicians have firm ideas about the limits of markets, the size of the state, tax rates, welfare benefits, the boundaries between the public and private spheres. Blair started with a blank sheet of paper, and made a virtue of it. The guiding principle was not "markets are good" or "taxation is bad", which had helped Whitehall to navigate the Thatcher era, but "Tony wants" or, to borrow Abse's phrase, "apple pie and motherhood and amen". "His constant refrain was that values were what counted," writes Stephens. "Policies mattered not for their own sake but only in so far as they promised to deliver those values." But the values were not fully worked out, still less which policies could best deliver them.
As we have seen, Blair's philosophy of life is religious rather than political, and his summary of John Macmurray, the Christian philosopher who is supposedly his guiding light, was hardly rigorous: "What he was on about was community. It's about fellowship, friendship, brotherly love." A succession of ideas and gurus were briefly embraced and cast aside, though the sociologist Anthony Giddens remained a constant, "conjuring", as Jenkins puts it, "a swarm of abstract nouns, consuming all meaning in their path". The Third Way is dismissed by Rawnsley as "a food-mixer". It tried to reconcile, in Blair's own words, things that had previously "been regarded as antagonistic": patriotism and internationalism, liberalism and socialism, the market and public services.
Some biographers suggest Blair's true gurus were more mundane figures than Giddens or the American communitarian Amitai Etzioni. Beckett and Hencke propose Charles Handy, a prolific author of management books who is sufficiently pious to get himself a regular slot on Thought for the Day. Blair has apparently read his books and learnt from them to "tear down all the bureaucratic civil service structures, all the paraphernalia of meetings, minutes and consulting: do it like the business leaders we admire, on the hoof, in your shirtsleeves, latte in one hand and mobile phone in the other". Seldon proposes Blair's focus group convenor, Philip Gould, whose influence on Labour goes back to 1985. Many of the phrases and buzzwords of the 1997 campaign - "one nation", "renewal", "the future not the past", "the many not the few" - came from Gould, whose book The Unfinished Revolution (1998) provides, in its homespun way, the most coherent guide to what New Labour is all about. Gould's instruction that "mass politics is becoming middle-class politics" has been followed faithfully through all the Blair years.
New Labour's overriding domestic aim can be quite clearly discerned: to make the public services acceptable to the middle classes by giving them standards of service they could expect in the private sector. If public services were not reformed in this way, ministers thought, the middle classes would desert the NHS and state schools and ultimately refuse to pay taxes (or, more precisely, demand tax rebates) for them. The more sympathetic biographers try to argue, without great conviction, that Blair had begun to find his way on this project by the end of his first term. Riddell argues that he probably left reform too late, but the second-term legislation, creating foundation hospitals and trust schools, opens, in the author's judgment, at least the prospect of a distinctively Blairite settlement for public services.
This "legacy", as Blair came to call it, was the main source of the tensions between him and Brown. As Seldon argues, "Brown was content as long as Blair's domestic policy remained inchoate and containable." There was always a difference of emphasis between the two men, best summed up by the Whitehall official who told Stephens that, given £5bn, Blair would spend it on hospitals and schools in middle England, Brown on tax credits for pensioners and the poor. But the first term tensions were mostly about power, not policy. Only as Blair developed his "choice and diversity" agenda in the second term did Brown - who believes ministers, rather than consumers, should choose between rival providers of public services - begin actively to frustrate him. The relationship, as Seldon puts it, increasingly consumed "time, emotional energy and goodwill", not least because it was the one area of government on which the press would always take an interest. "Its poison," writes Seldon, "seeped into almost every office and corridor in Whitehall and Westminster."
No wonder Blair turned increasingly to foreign affairs. There, he found greater philosophical certainty, more opportunity to use his personal talents, and more capacity to achieve quick results. As Jenkins puts it, "he found it a satisfying theatre of power where orders are obeyed and things happened". Stephens's suggestion that Blair had long been a Gladstonian liberal interventionist has him waiting to leap on to the world stage, his Christian faith driving him to the view "that civilised nations had the right and duty to confront suffering beyond their boundaries". And it is true that, in his only foreign policy speech of the 1997 campaign, he said it was "the destiny of Britain to lead other nations". But that is almost certainly another example of a biographer reading Blair backwards. His early statements echoed what he thought middle England wanted to hear and were intended to provide further evidence that Labour was truly new.
It is true also that Blair's concerns about Iraq date back to 1997, when he was telling the Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown that he had been looking at "stuff" on Saddam's WMDs and "it really is pretty scary". But that was hardly a policy position. The first time he ordered the British military into action, in Operation Desert Fox against Saddam at the end of 1998, he did so nervously, trailing on President Clinton's coat-tails. Then, as later, Britain and America acted largely alone, without the support of most EU members and against doubts about the operation's legality. But the sky didn't fall in, and it ended with Blair sitting in the cockpit of a Tornado, emulating Thatcher's appearance in a tank after the Falklands.
Blair thus discovered an arena in which he could act confidently and decisively. Each time he went to war, he did so against bitter criticism, but each time he survived. In Kosovo, he was the hawk, demanding ground troops be sent in and straining his friendship with Clinton near to breaking point. The war went badly at first and Blair told aides that it could be the end of him. But he held his nerve, took personal charge of the British effort, sent Campbell to give Nato's public relations a facelift, and emerged triumphant. Better still, he stumbled on a philosophy.
As Kampfner puts it, "he had demonstrated his instincts, but he had yet to fashion them into a coherent vision". A long-standing engagement to speak in Chicago provided the opportunity. The military historian Lawrence Freedman was invited, according to Kampfner, to craft, within two days, "a philosophy that Blair could call his own", complete with benchmarks as to when countries should intervene in others' affairs. Freedman obliged, thinking he was one of several people being consulted, and was amazed to read a speech that relied almost entirely on his proposals. Blair had announced "a new doctrine of international community" and proclaimed "we are all internationalists now".
But Kosovo created a new Blair image: not a man, as Stephens puts it, "tossed to and fro in the winds of public opinion", but one firm of purpose and resilient in adversity. The admiring Rawnsley writes: "He took a stance and, as others scurried for cover, he held to it." In his insistence on stepping up the war and introducing ground troops, he was largely isolated both in the Western Alliance and in his government. The outcome, writes Seldon, "further increased his reliance on and trust in the small circle around him". It also "ingrained in Blair that he was the bridge between the United States and Europe, and that he uniquely could explain the one to the other".
The road to Baghdad therefore led directly from Pristina where, after the Kosovo war, Blair was acclaimed as a hero. All the evidence produced by his biographers suggests that, after Kosovo, Blair was itching to implement once more the newly minted philosophy revealed in Chicago. According to Kampfner, Blair's concern about the election of George W Bush in 2000 was that this would be "a stay-at-home president". He told Mandelson that "we've got to turn these people into internationalists".
9/11 did exactly that, after a fashion. But there remained a crucial difference between Blair and Bush. The latter would act when he saw a threat to American national security. America was strong enough to protect herself. Allies were not essential, but welcome, and not even that in some neoconservative quarters. But as Stephens explains, Blair wanted a new "global architecture" in which the leading nations took continuing responsibility for peace-making and nation-building. To him, how Saddam was overthrown mattered as much as whether he was overthrown.
For the war in Afghanistan, he was able to help construct the necessary alliance. In the three months after 9/11, reports Kampfner, Blair "worked the phones and travelled", meeting the leaders of more than 70 countries to put together a coalition not just for military action, but also to work with America for a new world order.
Iraq presented Blair with a much bigger challenge. Once more, he thought he could rely on his persuasive powers, both in wooing EU and Security Council members to support UN resolutions, if not join the invasion force, and in disarming critics at home. But as Stephens admits, "here the self-belief that was so often a political strength showed itself as a weakness". Most authors are at a loss to account for Blair's stubbornness over Iraq, putting it down to a determination slavishly to follow the US. As Beckett and Hencke remark, even Anthony Eden had support from his own party when he took the country to war during the Suez crisis, but Blair went into Iraq "knowing that most of his cabinet opposed it ... the overwhelming majority of his party opposed it ... even close members of his court (probably including his wife) opposed it".
The explanation is quite simple, and Stephens puts his finger on it: "Blair was a politician who had never really experienced failure." He had survived Kosovo, Afghanistan and another brief military adventure in Sierra Leone. His talent for deal-making and personal diplomacy had secured peace in Northern Ireland, despite widespread media and political scepticism. He had never been behind in the opinion polls since he became Labour leader or suffered any serious setbacks in his political ascent since he entered parliament in 1983. He had every reason to think his luck would hold.
Yet, if we are to believe Stephens's analysis, he had been defeated in Iraq even before the bombs fell. Saddam would be deposed, but not in the way Blair wished. So anxious was he for this new bout of liberal interventionism that he failed to bind Bush, without whom the venture was impossible, into its most basic principles. Though they grudgingly agreed to "go the UN route", the Americans put little effort into securing international support and hardly any to push the Middle East "road map" for peace, another essential part of the Blair package. He made it too easy for the Americans to take him for granted. In Seldon's view, "he committed the greatest error in diplomacy: he declared his hand too early".
In one sense, however, Blair's judgment was right. Iraq would overshadow his premiership and, as the situation there deteriorated, his political brand was damaged beyond repair. Yet even that took time. After the war, Blair would still win another election by a substantial, if reduced, majority, deploy his personal diplomacy again to bring the Olympics to Britain, and when the bombers hit London on 7/7, find the precise words for the occasion just as he had on 9/11 and on the Princess of Wales's death nearly eight years earlier. The talent to charm and persuade did in the end see him through, if not for quite as long as he might have wished.
Perhaps there is no more to him. Biographers and other authors have tried hard to put a shape on his life, to find some meaning in it. He has defeated them all. He is not a Thatcherite, not a Tory, not a liberal, and certainly not a social democrat. He is not a Ramsay Macdonald, hard though Beckett and Hencke try to make the charge stick ("both were vain, handsome, charming men with theatrical talent"), because Macdonald betrayed a party he had spent a lifetime building up, and Blair had no Labour commitments to betray. His Christianity may be important to him, but attempts to show it has materially guided his political actions fail to convince. The only explanation he ever managed for why he went into politics at all was in an interview in 1989: "I suppose you just look at the world around you. Think things are wrong. Want to change it."
As Rentoul acutely observes in the 2001 edition of his biography - which is distinctly less reverent than the first, 1995 edition - his great political strength is his ability "to pick up and reflect back the banality of the majority". Blair swept up Gould's middle-class masses for Labour because they felt he was an ordinary sort of person like them, with an ordinary family life, ordinary aspirations, and an ordinary view of the world, a British version of "the regular guy" who so often succeeds in American politics. In many respects - a public school and Oxford education for a start - he is anything but ordinary but, in the unsophistication of his opinions, there is no reason to believe he was ever dissembling. As early as 1991, Melanie Phillips, after interviewing him for the Guardian, described it as "a bit like talking to a man without a shadow, a man with no form ... a pleasant man with a pleasant family living in a pleasant north London house".
Blair may best be seen as a clever barrister who absorbs himself in his brief, which, for the past 13 years, happens to have been the Labour leadership and the mission to make it the natural governing party. In that, he succeeded, but probably only in a short-term and superficial sense. He failed to pull the right party levers to achieve permanent change, just as he failed to pull the right levers in government. As his Downing Street staff became well aware, he had little interest in using power and influence to place "his" people in parliamentary candidacies, and the fresh Labour MPs of 2005 were overwhelmingly Brownite, not Blairite. "Blair has failed to remake the party in his image," writes Riddell glumly. Having risen without trace, the likelihood is that one of Britain's longest-serving prime ministers will also leave, in the political and ideological sense, no trace behind him.
"Blair," writes Rentoul, "is an Augustinian preacher-politician, always promising the virtue of clarity, but not yet." Future biographers will achieve some clarity about Blair's place in history, but will struggle to find any about the man himself. "Definition deferred" is the title of Rentoul's final chapter, and as an epitaph for Blair's premiership, that is still probably as good as it gets. A blank slate at the beginning, he remains, despite all his biographers' efforts, a blank slate at the end.
The first eleven
Tony Blair: The Man Who Lost His Smile
by Leo Abse
The Survivor: Tony Blair in Peace and War
by Francis Beckett and David Hencke
(Aurum Press, 2005)
The Prime Minister: The Office and Its Holders Since 1945
by Peter Hennessy
(Allen Lane, 2000)
Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts
by Simon Jenkins
(Allen Lane, 2006)
by John Kampfner
(The Free Press, 2004)
Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour
by Andrew Rawnsley
(Hamish Hamilton, 2000)
Tony Blair: Prime Minister
by John Rentoul
(Time Warner, 2001)
The Unfulfilled Prime Minister: Tony Blair's Quest for a Legacy
by Peter Riddell
by Anthony Seldon
(The Free Press, 2005)
Tony Blair: The Price of Leadership
by Philip Stephens
by Geoffrey Wheatcroft