Tony Blair proves God has
a sense of humour
His role on the banks of the Jordan as godfather to Rupert Murdoch's
daughter Grace is just one of the things that make
Tony Blair a great global comedy figure.
  by Matthew Norman
8:23PM BST 09 Sep 2011
 Tony Blair: a genius for self-delusion Photo: AP

Another richly textured week in the crazy, crazy life of Mr Tony Blair draws to its close... and as so often when that ineradicable fungal infection in the national armpit flares up, the head is sent spinning by the man, his works and his genius for self-delusion.

It isn’t so much that you don’t know where to start with him, though I confess that on this occasion, beset by so much choice, it’s a struggle; more that you could go mad – droolingly, screechingly doolally – trying to fathom what goes on in his head.
Start somehow we must, and a brief chronological recap of recent Blairworld highlights seems as useful a launch pad as any. On Tuesday, we belatedly learnt of his attendance last year, on the banks of the Jordan, at the christening of god-daughter Grace, now nine-year-old girl child of Rupert and Wendi Murdoch. On Thursday, though only a Blair super-nerd will have noticed, it emerged that he has received a “peace award” – another one! – in Tel Aviv for his splendid if mysterious work sprinkling harmony across the Middle East. Yesterday, that cherished role as peacebringer firmly in mind, he informed us in an interview in The Times that war with Iran is the way ahead.
The purpose of this patsy interview was to indulge his reflections on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and his own contribution to the ensuing martial catastrophes. Inevitably, he had nothing new to say, other than the revelation that his involvement in the invasion of Iraq foreshortened his premiership and damaged him personally. Ya think?
That apart, he contented himself with the same mechanical generalities, self-justifications and expressions of regret for loss of life which enchanted fans of the Chilcot Inquiry, where he first banged the drum for attacking Iran. “Peace Through War”, you may recall, was also a mantra of the Party in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
None of this doublethink is remotely fresh, as I said, which begs a question about The Times’s news judgment. Now me, had I been interviewing him, I’d have taken advantage of Papa Murdoch’s legendary hands-off approach to editorial content to ask about the baptism.
Why did he absent himself from the Hello! photo shoot that featured Grace and her sister, their parents and his fellow godparents Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, all clad in the same white garments – unseen on a public figure since the Maharishi entertained the Beatles – which Mr Tony wore himself? A sense of shame being absent from the Blairite emotional arsenal, it cannot have been that. Did the vista of the girls being baptised in the same waters as Jesus overwhelm him, and cause him a Stendhal Syndrome-style faint?
Was Cherie present, and if not, why not? Was the Murdoch private jet already full of Australian film stars? Or did she turn around at the Heathrow check-in on receiving a text message from a News Corp vice president (Unwittingly Self-Parodic Baptisms) that she would not, after all, be permitted to take a JCB digger to the river bank, and fill her trolley with soil later to be sold on eBay to collectors of holy relics?
The most impenetrable question, however, is this. Who, in biblical terms, does Tony Blair think he is? Palpably there is a messianic complex at work, as evidenced by his stewardship of that “Faith Foundation”, to go with the Narcissistic Personal Disorder. But which specific one?
What makes the diagnosis tricky is his habit of switching between the Testaments. In his final conference speech as Labour leader, for instance, he was Moses, fated to lead the Children of New Labour out of bondage, but destined to perish before entering the Promised Land. At other times – perhaps deliberately, more likely subconsciously – he has echoed Christ. In his memoir, he refers to Lord Mandelson as “my rock”, precisely as Jesus did with an earlier Peter.
On the basis that this pun (petra being the Greek for rock) is the only attempt at wit in the entire Bible, theologians have tended to doubt that God has a sense of humour. Observing Mr Blair in his myriad guises – sworn foe of media “feral beasts” who doubles up as Murdoch godfather; Middle Eastern peacemaker who advocates bombing the hell out of Tehran; fearless hammer of mad tyrants who spent a decade appeasing Gordon Brown – I’m not so sure.
How could a humourless God have created Tony Blair? Of course, one sees his value to a benign deity as a human weapon of mass destruction. Those whom the gods wish to destroy (Mubarak, Gaddafi, Berlusconi, Rebekah Brooks, Rupert himself), they first curse with his friendship. But even more than as the Bizarro World Midas whose touch transforms his golden chums into toxic waste, it is as the standout global comic figure of the age that he will one day be celebrated.
It will take a good while, because comedy equals tragedy plus time. No one split their sides in Rome while Caligula was illuminating imperial garden dinner parties by tarring Senators and igniting them, but you have to chuckle now. Allow a few decades to dull the memory of the untold damage Mr Blair wrought on Britain and the wider world, and he will take his rightful place in the Chamber of Mirthful Horrors. In the meantime, the fungal infection will sporadically erupt, and we must scratch at it as best we may.
If only Blair was handed over to the British Army, or to the public he is said to have represented, his delusions would shatter (quite violently).
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