Thursday, September 28, 2006


Blair's turgid speech

Heaping superlatives on Blair for his "brilliant" final conference speech, media pundits tested the boundaries of obsequious sycophancy, yesterday. Rusbridger, in yesterday's Guardian leader gushed: "Shining the bright beam of his oratory and intellect across Labour's decade in power, Tony Blair yesterday astounded his party with a speech that impressively illuminated New Labour's achievements while leaving its weaknesses and failures in the shadows."

Freedland, also in yesterday's Guardian, spouted in similar awestruck vein: "...the man's sheer, undeniable skill as a political performer. Clare Short calls him an "actor-presenter", but if she's right he's an Oscar-worthy actor and a Bafta deserving presenter... He can do it all: hold a large hall rapt, yet still sound right on television; hit every emphasis and cadence; move effortlessly from light to shade." High praise indeed for Blair's apparently unique gift of being able to speak in an affable "bloke-ish" manner.

However, this fulsome praise from many media pundits for Blair's intellect and performance seems, in many cases, to have glossed over what he actually had to say. Apparently, many professional journalists lost their powers of analysis when confronted with this stage managed and scripted event. An event designed to proselytise the factional group of Labour party members - numbering less than two-hundred-thousand people. Some journalists, like Simon Hoggart, did seem to remember that they were being paid to inform the wider public about events, but still they were very careful in their critical remarks.

Against a background of manufactured euphoria for Blair's intellect, vision and oratory skills, Hoggart noted: "There were the usual verb-free sentences - 79 in all - which in the past implied commitments without making promises. Now they evoke achievements that may or may not have occurred: "The end of waiting time in the NHS. Historic. Transforming secondary schools... Historic." And there were those clunking sentences that make you ask what on earth he could possibly mean, though you haven't time to work it out because the speech has swept on. "The USP of New Labour is aspiration and compassion reconciled." Eh? "Ten years ago, if we talked pensions, we meant pensioners." What was that about? "The danger is failing to understand that New Labour in 2007 won't be New Labour in 1997." Sorry, run that past me again. "Ten years on, our advantage is time, our disadvantage, time." Lost me there, old cock. Even the single mad staring eye was back."

To his credit, Hoggart did notice that Blair was rambling incoherently in parts of his speech. Despite Blair's much feted "intellect" the fact that he still has difficulty constructing sentences in English would indicate that his privileged public school education has serious shortcomings and that his class rooted arrogance is misplaced. Indeed, it is the disastrous failings of his much feted intellect, visible to all in the decisions he has taken over matters such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, that has instigated serious coup attempts from his own colleagues to wrestle the levers of crown powers from his deluded hands because he's become a huge electoral liability.

The more the media pundits praise Blair and shield him from the truth, the more they encourage his messianic self-belief. A self-belief of the genuinely deluded. That our democratic system should deliver us such a fool to rule us with crown powers makes the strongest possible case for genuine reform of our political system. That the media praise and defend the deluded clown, Blair, demonstrates the real dangers of an establishment media afraid to confront those in power.

from Peter Fainton's Blog

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