Party Pooper

Some cracking commentary on the Blair administration in David Hare's review of Andrew Rawnsley's 'Shakespearian' book, The End of the Party:


"Any psychiatrist who began to question the behaviour of a leader permanently surrounded by half-eaten bananas would already have noted that images of insanity haunt the whole volume. Blair's closest confidant, Alastair Campbell, was a manic depressive who bears out Booth Tarkington's observation that arrogant people are the most over-sensitive. At one point, Campbell admits to liking nobody in the world but his partner and his children. Brown's corresponding best friends were significantly known as Mad Dog McBride and Shriti the Shriek. Before Brown ascended to the top job, Frank Field cracked a good joke to Blair about not letting Mrs Rochester out of the attic, but the prime minister had long ago been advised to put a sign above his desk reading "Remember the Chancellor is mad". Most interestingly, Blair kept quiet about his private beliefs because he worried that voters might think of him as a "nutter" who communed with "the man upstairs". His principal reason for leaving No 10, after his suicidal refusal to call for a ceasefire during the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006, appears to have been his fear of being taken out through the door as unhinged as Margaret Thatcher. "I don't want to leave like her."

"…..As in bad plays, the characters all speak with the same voice. Peter Mandelson is allowed some tin-eared Victorian dialogue along the lines of "I love you, but I'll break you! If you do that, I can destroy you!" But almost everyone else is forced to forgo poor Trollope in order to mouth lousy Mamet. When made foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett's predictable reaction is to say "Fuck". You know she's going to use that word because Alastair Campbell has used the same word when told of David Kelly's death – which, characteristically, Campbell seems to regard as being more his tragedy than Kelly's. Brown tells Blair "You've stolen my fucking budget", and later asks "When are you going to fucking go?" Alan Milburn, the Blairite health secretary, does his best to confound Brown with what sounds like a Rada warm-up exercise: "I know what this is fucking all about. You know what it is fucking all about." But Brown zings back a reciprocal tongue-twister: "You shouldn't have fucking done what you did in the summer." David Cameron quickly masters the language of New Labour: "I should have stayed at fucking home." By the time the Queen makes a late appearance in the book, putting down an insufferable Silvio Berlusconi at the G8, you expect her to burst into the room with a heartfelt "Give us a fucking break!"