Tony Blair's memoirs: Key quotes


Tony Blair's memoirs have been published. We will be updating this page showing some of the key quotations from the book.


This was not a win. It was a landslide. After about two hours for a time I actually became worried. The moving line at the bottom of the TV screen was showing over a hundred Labour seats. The Tories had just six. I began to think I had done something unconstitutional.

On 2 May 1997, I walked into Downing Street as PM for the first time. I had never held office, not even as the most junior of junior ministers. It was my first and only job in government.

media captionTony Blair: ''The relationship with Gordon was very, very difficult''

Was he difficult, at times maddening? Yes. But he was also strong, capable and brilliant, and those were qualities for which I never lost respect.

I'm afraid I stopped taking his calls. Poor Jon [an adviser] would come in and say: "The chancellor really wants to speak to you." I would say: "I am really busy, Jon." And he would say: "He is really demanding it." Then I would say: 'I'll call him soon." And Jon would say: "Do you really mean that, prime minister?" And I would say: "No, Jon."

The curse of Gordon was to make these people co-conspirators, not free-range thinkers. He and Ed Balls and others were like I had been back in the 1980s, until slowly the scales fell from my eyes and I realised it was more like a cult than a kirk.

At that moment, I felt eerily calm despite being naturally horrified at the devastation, and aware this was not an ordinary event but a world-changing one. It was not America alone who was the target, but all of us who shared the same values. We had to stand together.

I had come to like and admire George. I was asked recently which of the political leaders I had met had the most integrity. I listed George near the top. Some people were aghast... thinking I was joking. He had genuine integrity and as much political courage as any leader I ever met. He was, in a bizarre sense... a true idealist.

media captionTony Blair on Iraq: ''I can't regret the decision''

I am unable to satisfy the desire even of some of my supporters, who would like me to say: it was a mistake but one made in good faith. Friends opposed to the war think I'm being obstinate; others, less friendly, think I'm delusional. To both I may say: keep an open mind.

Do they really suppose I don't care, don't feel, don't regret with every fibre of my being the loss of those who died? To be indifferent to that would be inhuman, emotionally warped.

I will never know precisely what made Dr David Kelly take his own life. Who can ever know the reason behind these things? It was so sad, unnecessary and terrible.

Through it all, we were trying to work out how it should be managed. I know this sounds callous. I was genuinely in grief. I liked her and I felt desperately sorry for her two boys, but I also knew that this was going to be a major national, in fact global event like no other. How Britain emerged was important for the country internally and externally. I was prime minister; I had to work out how it would work out. I had to articulate what would be a tidal wave of grief and loss, in a way that was dignified but also expressed the emotion and love - not too strong a word - people felt for her.

Once, near the end, he asked me whether I thought God wanted him to make the deal that would seal the peace process. I wanted to say yes, but I hesitated; though I was sure God would want peace, God is not a negotiator.

Of course I had no knowledge that John would die prematurely. Except that, in a strange way, I began thinking he might. I don't mean I had a premonition or anything like that, but if you had asked me, in some private contest with Providence to stake my life on whether he would or not, I would have hesitated. I kept dismissing the thought. It kept intruding.

She was a rock to me, strong when I was weak, determined when I was tempted to falter, and fierce in her defence of the family.

By the standards of days gone by I was not even remotely a toper, and I couldn't do lunchtime drinking except on Christmas Day, but if you took the thing everyone always lies about - units per week - I was definitely at the outer limit. Stiff whisky or G&T before dinner, couple of glasses of wine or even half a bottle with it. So not excessively excessive. I had a limit. But I was aware that it had become a prop.

If I did seem to be enjoying it, then it was a supreme instance of acting. I hated it.

I profoundly disagree with important parts of the statist, so-called Keynesian response to the economic crisis; I believe we should be projecting strength and determination abroad, not weakness or uncertainty.

David Cameron was clever and people-friendly but he had not gone through the arduous but ultimately highly educative apprenticeship I had gone through in the 1980s and early 90s.

I've had some harsh things to say about Ed Balls - I thought he behaved badly at points, and was wrong on policy - but I also thought he was really able, and a talent that any political party should be grateful to have.

If I'd proposed solving the pension problem by compulsory euthanasia for every fifth pensioner I'd have got less trouble for it.

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