It seems not many politicians in the north of Ireland have a good word to say about the Tony Blair that emerges in his so-fresh-they’re-hot memoirs. That bit about how he sometimes stretched truth to bring about agreement here - uh-uh. Deceptive. Devious. Not what our straight-talking, good-living politicians here like at all. The DUP managed to sound morally disapproving and at the same time worldy and hard-headed in their response. They never believed half of what he said, Gregory Campbell says - they insisted on action all the way, not words. Reg Empey said his party never believed a word of the St Andrew’s Agreement promises and so didn’t sign up to them. Mark Durkan says…Pay attention at the back, please, no nodding off…Mark Durkan says Blair “decided to concentrate on a two-party process involving the parties that were stuck on either side of the decommissioning question – the unionists and Sinn Féin”. Which, for those of you still awake, means Durkan thinks Blair done wrong.
It’s a laugh, really. Deeds, not words, Gregory? That’s why Agreements are constructed the way they are. If a party does X, Y will follow. Action and consequence. Deed and result. Day followed by night. Any politician who’d settle for less would be less not-hard-headed and more very soft-headed indeed. And the fact that Gregory the Great pats himself on the back for not being soft-headed suggests that actually he…Oh never mind.
As for Reg and how canny he and his party were to keep clear of the St Andrew’s Agreement: the reason the St Andrew’s Agreement was seen as necessary was because he and his party, having put their names to the Good Friday Agreement, spent the next several years pulling back from it and clicking their tongues and rolling their eyes and sucking in their breath in a way that showed their heart was very, very far from in it. Besides, if Reg’s party were so awfy clever, how come the electorate promptly did to them what a 90mph car windscreen does to an insect?
Personally, the bit I found most interesting was where Tony said he got fonder of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness than he really should have. What’s all that about? He doesn’t say he got fonder of Ian Paisley than he should have. He got fond of Paisley just the right amount; but with Gerry and Martin, it was bigger than that, not spiritual at all, in fact Tony says he got kind of, ehm, you know, carried away. On a wave. Of affection.
Here, Blair. Less of the Mills and Boon language, if you don't mind. There’s only one place that sort of talk ends and that’s in tears. Or a twin bedroom. Ask William Hague.