Wednesday, May 30, 2007

How Tony Blair made cynics of us all

The BBC tells us that, out in Sierra Leone, Tony Blair has been attacking critics of the Africa leg of his farewell tour:
"The one thing I have come to despise more than anything else in my 10 years is cynicism."
So Tony Blair has come to despise cynicism over the past 10 years? That cannot be right.

From its earliest days, New Labour treated cynicism as the worst of sins. It seemed that anything was forgivable except refusing to take Blair and his henchmen at their own high estimate.

In his first Labour Conference speech as prime minister Blair claimed that the general election had been a defeat not just for Toryism but for cynicism.

By 2000 Nick Cohen had become exasperated with this tactic. He wrote in the New Statesman:
When Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell rant against indifference, they do not attack the apathetic, but the cynical, and they do so with real vehemence.

Their use of cynic is a smear. But you should always take your enemies' insults as badges of honour and, before donning the decoration, it is worth asking: just who is a cynic?

Cynicism is now the antonym of apathy. While the apathetic don't care, the traduced cynics care greatly. When Blair goes for cynics, he means a democratic socialist or libertarian or anyone who clings on to a principle.
Not that this stopped Blair. The following year, in a speech to Christian Socialists, he said cynicism was not only a fact of political life but a "corrosive" danger to democracy itself.

From this we conclude that cynicism is not something that Blair has come to despise over the past 10 years. As far as he really despises it, he has always done so. But it looks far more like an underhand tactic to question the motivation of those who refuse to take Blair at his own, extraordinarily high, estimation.

Is it any wonder we are all cynical about him?

1 comment:

Richard Gadsden said...

I think it's more that Blair doesn't really understand that people can just disagree on principle, so he assumes that people who do disagree with him are doing so from some underhanded motive