Glass half-full for Tony as half-price books fail to fly off the shelves

On the day that Tony Blair's memoirs were released, it all seems a bit quiet. There were no queues; the bookshelves still full of hardbacks with “half price” stickers placed on the front.

On the day that Tony Blair’s memoirs were released, it all seems a bit quiet. There were no queues; the bookshelves still full of hardbacks with “half price” stickers placed on the front. With Labour party members starting to receive their ballot papers this morning, and with the combat mission in Iraq declared over yesterday, ‘A Journey’ was released in true symbolic style.

There was little speculation as to what would be said – perhaps because there wasn’t much to take us by surprise. There was no deal done – the most we heard was that Mr Blair would kindly be donating all profits to the Royal British Legion.

It was unlike when Peter Mandleson’s book ‘The Third Man’ was published two months, when a deal was done to give The Times the rights to his book, the paper publishing a series of videos of the ‘Dark Lord’ reading extracts in a dimly lit room (said to be worth in the region of £350,000).

Instead, the press, the 24-hour television news stations and radio were forced to wait until 23:30 last night before they could start buzzing at every new, occasionally poorly written snippet released. Political Scrapbook encompassed the mood of the morning in its series of front page headlines.

On Iraq

Mehdi Hasan over at the New Statesman published an early morning critique of Blair’s journey in Iraq. At an equally early hour he told Twitter:

“Just been reading Blair’s chapter on Iraq, online. He is still Bliar. The man tells barefaced porkies like no one else”

A conservative approach

Mark Hoban, Treasury minister, claimed that Blair backs Conservative economic policy. Blair suggests that the Labour government (page 680):

“should have taken a New Labour way out of the economic crisis: kept direct taxes competitive, had a gradual rise in VAT and other indirect taxes to close the deficit, and used the crisis to push further and faster on reform.”

Polly Toynbee asks:

“was Tony Blair always really a closet conservative, or did he convert late in life?”

Also in The Guardian, Michael White takes a more sympathetic approach – considering the idea of Tony the Tory as “a bit glib”.

On Twitter, the more personal parts of Tony’s memoirs caused a stir. Originally tweeted by Fraser Nelson, the Spectator’s Coffee House post appeared put many people off their lunch.

The outer limit

Unfortunately – and rather expectantly – Tony’s comments on Gordon outweighed anything nice he had to say.  At least they did in the reporting. Most attention today has been paid what he had to say on the ‘madenning’ Gordon Brown, who ‘drove him to drink‘ whilst prime minister.

Andy McSmith wrote on the Independent website that the memoir is:

“Less like a “description of a journey” and more like a long memo to Mr Blair’s staff, setting out their boss’s decisions and reasoning.”

• Live blogging on Tony Blair’s book and interview with Andrew Marr, which is broadcast tonight on BBC1 at 7pm, is available at the Guardian with Andrew Sparrow.

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17 Responses to “Glass half-full for Tony as half-price books fail to fly off the shelves”

  1. Mr Omneo

    RT @leftfootfwd: Glass half-full for Tony as half-price books fail to fly off the shelves: http://bit.ly/9BJHLA

  2. Gael

    Fact : nobody gives a book buying sh*t about him in the UK http://bit.ly/a4xc4B #TonyBlair #Blair #Blairbook #USA #Obama #Bush #Iraq

  3. Tam Chandler

    RT @leftfootfwd: Glass half-full for Tony as half-price books fail to fly off the shelves: http://bit.ly/9BJHLA

  4. Shamik Das

    Glass half-full for Tony as half-price books fail to fly off the shelves: http://bit.ly/9BJHLA reports @clairee_french @leftfootfwd

  5. Anon E Mouse

    Claire French – You say: “There was little speculation as to what would be said – perhaps because there wasn’t much to take us by surprise.”

    If this isn’t a surprise why didn’t you tell us this at the time?

    Why did you all keep claiming Gordon Brown wasn’t a thug and a bully and even smeared Peter Watt, a lifelong Labour supporter when he told the truth?

    Tony Blair was the most successful elected Labour leader ever. Gordon Brown was the worst and you sound like you’re STILL spinning Claire…

  6. Beatrice Bray

    RT @leftfootfwd: Glass half-full for Tony as half-price books fail to fly off the shelves: http://bit.ly/9BJHLA

  7. JoshC

    Fails to fly off the shelves? The BBC were reporting it just an hour ago as being the highest selling political book of the year and selling 8 times faster than Mandelson’s book. A little fact checking in order?

  8. paul gallagher

    I would like to see a day when all outgoing primeministers are forbidden to do the after dinner speech circuit or write books about thiier time in office for at least thiirty years after they leave politics so that either they are dead or there is very little interst left in them so that they can not make fortunes out of thier mistakes and in some cases off the backs of teenage soldiers who have just been used as nothing more than modern day cannon fodder.

  9. Samuel Tarry

    RT@shamikdas: Glass half-full for Tony as half-price books fail to fly off shelves: http://bit.ly/9BJHLA reports @clairee_french@leftfootfwd

  10. Simon

    Good grief, those exerpts suggest this book is terribly written. Sylvie Krin eat your heart out! Regarding drinking, he even talks that up. Half a bottle of wine at most. Lightweight.

  11. Anon E Mouse

    Simon – Half a bottle of wine is nothing – William Hague used to drink 14 pints of bitter in a session. Way to go Bill…

  12. Shamik Das

    It appears Tony’s book is doing rather better than at first thought – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/blairs-memoirs-from-no10-to-no1-2068147.html – it seems the lack of queues snaking round corners and absence of hordes of speccy geeks at Waterstone’s were quite deceptive!

    So congratulations Mr Blair!!

  13. Anon E Mouse

    Shamik – Nice comments man… love the “speccy geeks” bit, (do you know me?) – LOL :-}

  14. Jon Foster

    @leftfootforward say Blair book isnt selling http://bit.ly/a4xc4B but Waterstones say it's flying off the shelves http://bit.ly/9IYeEN

  15. Will Tisdale

    "Was Tony Blair always really a closet conservative, or did he convert late in life?" http://bit.ly/ckXxyh #Blair #Tory

  16. No evidence at all

    Evidence based blogging? What a joke. Just another bunch of desperate Tony Blair haters who cannot stand the fact that not only did he change Labour, he proved that changing Labour is necessary to win.
    We smashed the Tories three times with Tony Blair. No wonder they were so pleased when we got rid of him.

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