Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Suez: Fifty years on

Good stuff from Alex Wilcock on Love and Liberty:
Fifty years ago today, Egypt’s President Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. The British Prime Minister compared him to Hitler, and mounted an invasion with a remarkably small number of allies; it all ended in tears. The BBC website’s ‘Eden: A man under strain’ calls him a man who “entered Downing Street as… dashing and glamorous” but left “with his reputation in tatters”. Anthony Blair must be wishing comparisons with Anthony Eden weren’t so glaring on this anniversary. I wish they weren’t, too. Mr Eden’s tragedy was that he didn’t have America on his side. Mr Blair’s is that he does.
He goes on to quote a prescient passage from Conrad Russell which is well worth reading.

There is another link between Blair and Eden which Alex does not mention. Ian Jack wrote in the Guardian on 29 May 2004:
An exhausted Eden resigned on January 9 1957 and he and his wife set sail from Tilbury to New Zealand (which had been a staunch ally) on January 18. The ship was the RMS Rangitata and the Edens' cabin steward was John Prescott, who sometimes fought on-deck boxing matches for the entertainment of the passengers, sometimes won them, and sometimes was presented with his prize (beer or wine) by the ex-prime minister or his wife.

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