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Iraq certainly, but Northern Ireland and Kosovo big parts of Blair legacy

Posted on 15 January 2011 | 12:01pm

As I said yesterday, it is not easy to edit a third of a million words down to a couple of double page newspaper spreads. So I am not at all critical of The Guardian for the choices  they have made in running extracts of the second volume of my diairies. Part one today focuses on Iraq ’98, Kosovo ’99 (‘the shaping of a war leader’) and a few colourful sidebars including one on man of moment Piers Morgan as the launch of his new programme nears.

Nor can I complain that the front page news story The Guardian had planned – about TB reading the Bible and having a ‘wobble’ before the bombing of Saddam’s Iraq in 1998 – was dropped in favour of another (about time) Crown Prosecution Service look at News of the World and phone-hackery.

‘Admit defeat,’ Piers emailed me last night. ‘You’re only interesting because of me.’

When he gets the book – being wealthy, he asked for a freebie of course – he will see he appears rather less than TB and I appeared in his diaries of the same period. But the considerable twitter traffic sparked by The Guardian extracts did appear to focus almost as much on ‘Piers the slug’ as it did on TB and Iraq. News is not an exact science.

Fiona has just been reading The Guardian over the kitchen table and keeps saying ‘what about when this?’ and ‘there’s nothing about that?’ or pointing out that the real entries tend to be quite long and these are all quite short. But that is editing. I was tempted to say she should read the whole book. But she has. Oh, we have lived a long time with these diaries.

The book covers 97-99 and for me the two biggest things of that period were Northern Ireland and Kosovo. There are times, even now, when I get an aching stab of exhaustion just thinking about the hours and the trips that went into both, particularly Northern Ireland.

Once the book has been published here, I will be going to do a separate launch in Ireland. Whatever else is going on – from trying to implement a manifesto to dealing with personality clashes, intermittent scandals or the totally unexpected like Diana’s death –   the Northern Ireland story runs right through this book and beyond.

Iraq, as The Guardian says, is a defining part of the Blair history. But so is Ireland, and one where it tends to be easier to build a consensus that he did well – which is probably why people tend not to talk about it so much.

Amazon link to Power and the People here

And to paperback of volume 1, Prelude to Power, here

  • don’t forget Sierra Leone…Tony took action with guts there and is still hailed as a hero. OK things may still go wrong, and it may have made him over bold with Iraq – but that and the Good Friday agreement are the real positive legacy – better than any that Bush can claim.

  • Alan McArdle

    where when you going in Ireland? Just dublin/belfast or maybe get around a bit. You go down well over here, not least cos of the Burnley connection … Jimmy Mac and all that?

  • Malcolm Hall

    Agree the Guardian stuff looks very bitty but it is not a bad as for the book Alastair … shows a bit of serious, a bit of fun and a lot of detail. Good luck with it

  • June Sharples

    I thought we didn’t do God …

  • MJC

    Will your new book be published in the United States? If so, will you be making
    public appearances in support of it, in particular here in New York City?

  • Ehtch

    It’s wonderful how Blair and friends, Mowlem especially, sorted out the NI problem.

    Anyone seen this spaghetti westerm with James Coburn in it, with a good thick layer of “the irish troubles” laid on it?

  • Sam Robinson

    I wish Mo Mowlem was given the proportion of credit she deserves for Northern Ireland.

  • Richard

    When are you going to acknowledge the work which Major did, prior to 97 New Labour, which work was built on by TB and Mo to get the Good Friday Agreement?

  • Robert

    Richard, with John Major relying on the parliamentary support of the Unionists to keep a day to day majority in the commons whatever preparation he did towards securing peace would have been utterly ineffectual.

    All sides in NI knew after the 1997 election the government’s ability to enact its broad programme was pretty well immune from their internal squabbles.