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Paper Monitor

11:34 UK time, Wednesday, 1 September 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

For most of Fleet Street, there is only one story that matters today. Tony Blair's time at the summit of British public life may be long gone, but his Banquo-like presence continues to haunt the commentariat from beyond the political grave.

With the publication of the former prime minister's memoirs, A Journey, the papers delve once again into his controversial legacy - Iraq, New Labour and the psychodrama that characterised his relationship with Gordon Brown.

Daily Telegraph

Ooh look, picture captions in Paper Monitor

Of course, those who view the ex-MP for Sedgefield as either a crusading reformer or a vainglorious war-monger are likely to have their views reinforced by the book. Both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail carry cartoons depicting readers requiring travel sickness pills for the "Journey".

The latter's leader column begins with the headline: "A journey into Mr Blair's fantasy world." It concludes: "He ended this 'journey' a discredited liar, who split his party and led this country into a war which will stain our national conscience for many years to come."

Clear, then, that Paul Dacre's take on the Blair phenomenon has softened little with the passage of time.

The Times, by contrast, remains sympathetic to Blair, arguing that the memoir is a "fascinating reminder of why voters were not wrong to award him three election victories".

The Guardian's coverage strikes a mid-way point, helped by the fact that it carries an interview with the autobiographer himself.

"My voice has been silent for three years deliberately," he tells the paper.

But interviewer Martin Kettle notes:

It may seem as if Tony Blair has never really been away in the three years since he stepped down as prime minister in June 2007 after 10 years in Downing Street. A flood of books, continuing controversies and above all, the unquiet legacy of the 2003 Iraq war, mean that he is never far away from the headlines.

Nonetheless, one paper has its eye on the future rather than the past.

The Daily Mirror - the only national title to back Labour at the last general election - backs David Miliband as the party's leader in a front-page splash and a double-page Voice of the Mirror.

Blair is relegated to a teaser on the front and a precis of the book on page eight and nine. What this says about Labour loyalists' attitude to their most successful leader ever - at least in electoral terms - is above Paper Monitor's pay grade.

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