HOW did Britain’s relentless investigative reporters fail to uncover Tony Blair’s history as a 1970s Trotskyist, as he confided to BBC Radio 4’s Reflections With Peter Hennessy? Why have his fellow Trotskyists from Oxford University not previously exposed Blair’s revolutionary former self?
Returning to his digs after playing a gig with his Ugly Rumours rock group, what could have been more natural than to scorn the old cliches of alcohol, narcotics and female admirers and settle down with a cup of cocoa and a biography of Leon Trotsky that just happened to be in his room?
“It was like a light going on,” confides Blair, reprising the role of Saul on the road to Damascus.
Fortunately, mainstream Labour in the form of Cherie Booth was able to rescue him from a life of left-wing politics. Good fortune for him. Less good for the people of Iraq perhaps.
Cynics may scorn this recollection, but it carries the Blairite imprint of authenticity, as do previous memories of him trying to stow away, aged 14, on a flight from Newcastle to the Bahamas and sitting in the Gallowgate end at St James’ Park watching Newcastle United legend Jackie Milburn play.
Inconvenient facts revealing that there were no Bahamas flights from Newcastle and no seating in the Gallowgate must be discounted.
Blair’s tales from his youth are every bit as truthful as his contention that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction requiring Iraq’s devastation but, fortunately, have less tragic consequences.