If only he’d listened to himself

by Stephen Tall on September 6, 2006

If only Mr Blair had heeded his own advice, as recorded by Paddy Ashdown in his second volume of diaries:

“Going is the most difficult thing to do in politics. Too many people stay for too long. I would rather stop when people said, ‘Why is he going?’ than when they said, ‘Why isn’t he going?’ Or, even worse, ‘When is he going?’”

(Tony Blair quoted in The Ashdown Diaries, V.II (1997-99), p.385)

As it is, the last 36 hours has brought to mind the brutally honest observations of Tony Benn in his diaries over 40 years ago:

“19th January, 1965

To the House of Commons this afternoon, where everybody was waiting to hear the news of Churchill. All major government policy statements have been postponed, the Prime Minister [Wilson] having cancelled his visit to Bonn. The crude fact is that everybody is waiting for the old man to die. … Yet he may well drag on for days, weeks or months. It is macabre and grisly.”

(The Benn Diaries (1940-90), p.122)