Thursday, December 21, 2006

One page YES, next page NO

Tony Blair
Originally uploaded by WalkingGeek.
"I love your blog when you go on and on about Blair. I think then you're at your best." A friend of mine told me this in a bar a while back so here goes again.

I love British newspapers nearly as much as Blair. And when these two come together, I feel like it is Christmas Eve already. Yesterday on my flight towards Helsinki I managed to take an hour for The Guardian. Won-der-ful. Although being openly liberal and left, the best thing in newspapers of this size and quality is that they allow a plurality of opinions. Two examples of yesterday's The Guardian proves this.

On page 23 historian Anthony Seldon (author of Blair's biography - which I own, have read and which friend of mine mentioned as the reason for me being single) wrote an article saying that history will judge Blair as a political colossus. Seldon does not deny that Blair has made mistakes but the most essential is in the following statements: "Mrs Thatcher, alone in the 20th century, achieved three successive election victories, but she did not remodel her party as excessively as Blair has done.(...) Northern Ireland remains his greatest single personal success. Look for a departure announcement soon after March 7 next year, when he hopes fresh elections to the Northern Irelans assembly could lead to a breakthrough in the province."

When one turns the page, criticism on Blair is far more direct. Staff writer Joseph Harker writes a piece called "The problem is that he just doesn't understand race." In a superb way he writes a fictional follow-up speech to Blair's recent speech on multiculturalism. Harker is wonderfully witty in his critique writing in Blair's persona:

"I'm virtually clueless about what it's like to come to a new country where you are a marginalised minority, resented by the local population, picked on because of your skin colour and denied opportunities.(...) When I claim to be supportive of you, for example, by saying most Muslims are thoroughly decent law-abiding citizens, I should ask myself how an average white person would feel to be patronised by such a statement.(...) There are hundreds of thousands of Brits abroad who, for all sorts of reasons, don't learn a new language. And school results show that many white Britons have problems speaking English. So maybe I should try to understand a little more why some people, many relatively poor, may find it difficult to rush into language lessons the minute they arrive here."

This is what I would want from my newspaper. A variety of voices, both to the point, from highly different perspectives and both represented equally. And I think both of them are correct.
1. Blair has made mistakes (show me a politician who hasn't) but he is one of the great politicians of our time.
2. Blair falls all too often into this "hard measures needed" language to please certain groups although I am quite sure that he knows more about the subtleties of this subject than other EU heads of states combined.

No comments: