I have recently been listening to an audiobook of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s autobiography called ‘A Journey’. By writing this book he has followed in the footsteps of leaders like the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar and the Emperor Claudius in putting his version of the story in the public arena to counter what his enemies may say about him. He portrays himself as someone who truly cares about both rich and poor people in the uk, sympathises with the Israeli governments’ heavy handed response to Palestinian attacks, ideologically opposed to Shariah Law being implemented anywhere in the world and as a result supportive of state sponsored terrorism against any Muslims who want this and being very anti Gordon Brown.
On the other hand, he has an excellent mastery over the use of words, is eloquent and persuasive, even slippery in his speech and has a positive manner in criticising and crediting his friends, team members and acquaintances. The exception being his description of Gordon Brown, which stands out as a charachter assassination with repeated doses of feint praise and heavy attacks akin to the Israeli governments’ against Hamas.
Dispersed throughout his book he mentions five key lessons of political leadership which he has learned and by mentioning in his book he is teaching, perhaps for the benefit of New Labour allies, but open to anyone, even Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg etc. These key lessons are as follows:
1. ‘The Ability to think anew’.
2. To be able to take decisions without dithering too long.
3. To take the ‘calculated risk’.
4. To take the ‘uncalculable risk’.
5. To understand public opinion but to make the decision that is ‘in their best interest’ rather than what they express to be their wish.
According to Tony Blair, ‘true leadership’ is to be able to do what is in the best interest of the country or the people even if it means doing the opposite of what the public want or losing your job, ending your career or all three. I believe he is mostly right in thinking this, but uncomfortably, this realisation seems to go against the foundations of democracy. This thinking led to his decisions on Iraq but it can also be argued that Adolf Hitler must have thought that his decisions were ‘in the best interests of Germany’ despite many Germans expressing views opposite to it and the rest of the world deciding that his policies were against ‘morality’ or ‘evil’.
Many people think that the US and UK governments have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in contravention of the Geneva Convention in Iraq, Abu Gharaib, Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. It is interesting to note that General Pinochet of Chile had US support when he made citizens of his country that opposed him ‘disappear’; how surprised he was when he was arrested decades later in the UK and tried for war crimes!