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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Monday, 24 December 2007
Tony Blair ex PM of the UK grasps at Catholic redemption for Iraq slaughter, tragedy
Mood:  not sure
Topic: human rights



What is it she does now? Look how she rubs her hands.

It is an accustom'd action with her, to seem thus
washing her hands. I have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour.

Lady Macbeth:
Yet here's a spot.

Hark, she speaks. I will set down what comes from her, to
satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.

Lady Macbeth:
Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then
'tis time to do't.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?

Macbeth Act 5, scene 1, 26–40


Is ex PM Tony Blair a modern Lady Macbeth, in 2003 at the height of his undoubted power full of his pride and skill, but in late 2007 realising "the old man" ie Iraq "to have had so much blood in him"? Does he now seek the sacrament of confession or even  make plans for the sacrament of the Last Rites, so he may be accepted into the doors of heaven?:

BBC NEWS | UK | Tony Blair joins Catholic Church

"Earlier this year, Blair told the British Broadcasting Corp. that he had avoided talking about his religious views while in office for about 10 years for fear of being labeled "a nutter."

Alastair Campbell, Blair's director of strategy and communications, once intervened in an interview, preventing the prime minister from answering a question about his Christianity, saying, "We don't do God".

But in an interview on ITV in 2006, Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq, saying that he had prayed about the issue and that God would judge him for his decision.

"I think if you have faith about these things, you realize that judgment is made by other people and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well," Blair said at the time. "

in Washington Post Dec 22nd 2007


We think Blair meets Macbeth meets Brideshead Revisited. As a lowly elected official once we felt the influence of that heady brew of political power, enough of a taste to know it would corrupt our God given (?) soul, nurtured as an alter boy under the St Joseph's bluestone steeple, mother leading the choir, surrounded in one way or another by 8 jostling siblings.

We chose poverty as more suitable to the ecological times.

Picture: Jeremy Irons launches his film career in the role of Charles Ryder, last episode (11) of Brideshead Revisited Granada TV 1981.


Yesterday we watched the (last) episode eleven of Brideshead Revisited (1981) on DVD made by Granada TV, arguably the best tv mini series ever made. Certainly the soundtrack is sublime. There is a pivotal scene where the 'sinful' Lord Marchmain (below) having been advised of his "crime" by his devout daughter Cordelia (don't you know) having spent a good 25 years in Italy with his mistress, deserting his faithful wife, returns to his 4 poster death bed in the Chinese drawing room (don't you know). These are delicate refined folks.

It's all about the grip of Catholic dogma amongst the British aristocracy within the moral grandeur of source Christianity. And the desire for redemption for 'sin', a particularly Judeo Christian invention that underpins ruthless hierarchy crushing people's choice and natural potential: Subservient martyred women, neurotic drunken men, supremacy of the priest representing the Roman Pope, all leveraging the profound fear of death. The whole box and dice.

Here is the patriach Marchmain in Castle Howard/Brideshead on the eve of WW2  played by Sir Laurence Olivier about to die but making the supreme effort to cross himself as 'a sign of contrition' to his God before he slips away.

In fictional Lord Marchmain's case he only deserted his wife and his religion for 25 years, after fighting in WW1 after which he preferred Italy as a domicile. In Tony Blair's case he deserted the basics of good governance out of pride and dogma in the ultimate political vanity that there was no argument, no conflict that he was not equal to, to conquer and resolve, with his enormous communication skills. A vanity that has killed maybe a million people and has him gasping for redemption, like a moral invalid on the oxygen bottle on his death bed in fictional Brideshead Revisited.

Tony Blair looked old and tired on the vision. He looked to us like Lord Marchmain whose 'fear of death was wasting him away'.


Similarly on the local NSW scene we have the redemption of ex Premier Bob Carr, always a thespian in the NSW Parliament, renowned for lacerating his opponents with his comic wit (but not wisdom), bringing the House to uproarious laughter. This capacity for humour in a veil of governance tears was Carr's 'redeeming' quality. It's a common enough phenomenon, forgiving a talent their many personal flaws for his comic ability to lighten the daily grind involved in serious work. To leverage that skill to the very top of the Catholic dominated NSW ALP Right (who can forget 'the Cardinal' Gerry Gleeson of Sydney Harbour Foreshore's Authority ) was indeed very 'amusing' and destructive.

Here is Carr in the weekend press 'elbowing his way into' the Rudd Govt federal election victory by identifying ex PM Howard's undoubted environmental failings:

Howard's lost opportunities on greenhouse

There is no doubting Carr did indeed have a role in Howard's demise - it was surely his (along with this writer and many others) wedge model, latterly adopted by Rudd, that removed the ascendant NSW Fahey Govt in March 1995. Carr leveraged the great moral imperative of then and now on forest protection driving a confusing division into the marriage of Liberal and National Parties: The Liberals, more dispassionate about the importance of ecological sustainability, from the 'at any cost' Nationals resource extraction motivations with all those mining and agri industry donations. In March 1995 it was forest destruction, an agenda that Carr promised to do much about 1995-97, and proved a failure 5 years later by continuing with the Eden Chipmill and disgraceful land clearing: 9/2007 - Ongoing scandal of land clearing in NSW and Australia likely affecting climate 

In the November 2007 federal election it was Rudd banging a similar drum on the imperative of dangerous climate change, and who one presumes will prove just as ineffective as Carr on forests. That's the hard truth of the matter.

And thus redemption is a recurring theme in religion and politics, Carr before and Rudd next?:

Asbestos and the struggle for redemption of spin merchant ex premier Bob Carr?

The lesson of recent Australian political history is that the ALP want to be virtuous on the environment but the flesh is very weak. In other words the ALP are profoundly dishonest but also in simple terms moral and intellectual failures when it comes to actual delivery.

That's why if the Green Party didn't exist as an important discipline it would have been necessary to invent them. At least with the Greens they are always being whiplashed back to the small g green/ecology by their own name, which some of us think of as God's creation (!).


Postscript #1

After writing the above we noticed Sheehan's parallel inclination to comment on the same topic/same day (re Blair's new found Catholicism) in the big Fairfax press, our quite distinct motive being the surprising echo of the Brideshead Revisited DVD we loaned from the local library 6 days earlier. That article here:

Tidings in tempest, storm and wind - Opinion - smh.com.au

And since then we also greatly enjoyed an Australian Financial Review article about one Robert Novak, syndicated columnist in Washington who apparently converted at age 67 to Catholicism. There is a quote from a US senator that now Novak is a Catholic, but is he a Christian?! Other illuminating comments about Novak's career including the role of tv media turning his 'appearances' into a 'performance' pushing him into an "ideologue" when his natural inclination presumably a range of social issues was alot less categorical. Novak is very interesting for having opposed the Iraq war when it counted in 2003 and thus, to quote the title "A conservative eaten by his own kind" AFR Review p6 9 Nov 2007.

We also liked very much the reference to

"The columnist is a prospector panning for gold; alot of pebbles and sand have to be sifted, and the nugget is sometimes tiny. Much Evans & Novak reporting inevitably seemed trivial or simply mystifying to readers with no interest in Washington politics. To political junkies, however, the column was catnip."

A serious micro news blogger might say exactly the same based on the mess in our place.

Posted by editor at 6:38 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 28 December 2007 12:14 PM EADT

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