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BLAIR TOLD TO PEACE OFF

27-06-2007

As Tony Blair prepares to quit parliament today, rumours are rife that he’s already got his next job lined up - as a Middle East Peace envoy. Mick Temple asks, “is satire dead?”

I'm in Singapore this week, at the World Journalism Education Congress. If events haven't moved on, I'll talk more about my week here in my next 'Stirrer' blog - when I get back to dear old Blighty. I want to make sure I do get back.

It's late at the moment, I'm sitting in my hotel room with the Singapore skyline sparkling and there are still streams of traffic in the streets below. I've just come back from a great night out with a native Singaporean who took me way beyond the tourist centres to one of the local beaches, where a complex of little cafes sold every variety of Asian food.

I was the only European among hundreds of people - a strange experience. In Michael Winner's words, the food was 'totally historic'. I should be feeling chilled out. But I'm not.

I've just finished watching BBC World News telling me that the role of Middle East peace envoy has been given to the right honourable this is beyond parody) Tony Blair.

Say it ain't so, Joe.

The great American satirist and academic Tom Lehrer quit performing after the decision to award Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize. At the time Kissinger was still promulgating the Vietnam War and while talking peace America was secretly bombing Vietnam's next door neighbour, Cambodia, a decision pushed by Kissinger.

The Nobel panel's decision, felt Lehrer, signalled the death of satire. How could he possibly take the piss again? The decision was beyond belief, a mass murderer receiving perhaps the most prestigious civil award in the world.

America and Israel were in favour of Blair getting the job. What a surprise. But what possible credibility will he have? Most of the Arab world rightly sees him as Blair's poodle.

Whatever good Blair achieved during his ten years as prime minister - and while it might not be saying much, his record on domestic policy stands comparison with most PMs - is hopelessly outweighed by the one decision taken when his desire to emulate Margaret Thatcher and bestride the international stage took us into the front line of a world-wide ideological war.

Tony Blair lied to us and his Iraq decision led to shock and awe - slaughter on a biblical scale. Like Kissinger, he has the blood of innocents on his hands. Like Kissinger, he is effectively guilty of mass murder.

At the very least, Blair deserves to spend the rest of his life being mercilessly lampooned. But like Kissinger, Blair will spend the rest of his life being lauded by the mainstream media as an international statesman.

Whatever happens about the peace envoy decision, like Tom Lehrer, I feel despair that anyone could even contemplate giving Blair the role.

You really couldn't make it up.

What’s Blair’s legacy? And could he be an effective peace envoy? Leave a comment on our Message Board.

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