Former Labour prime minister and Iraq War architect Tony Blair’s reinvention as a Covid sage has suffered a setback after segments of his autobiography in which he boasts of doing “the minimum” to prepare for a “panpanic” resurfaced.
Blair, who has been described as “the most hated man in Britain”, has enjoyed an unexpected surge in credibility, if not grassroots popularity, over the course of the pandemic, with his pronouncements on vaccines and Covid passports even earning his a shock endorsement of sorts from longtime sparring partner Nigel Farage.
However, the vague sense of general sagacity which he has achieved may have been fatally undermined by excerpts from his own 2011 autobiography unearthed by The Telegraph, in which he all but brags about not taking pandemics seriously as Prime Minister, with his government doing “the minimum we could” in response to a 2005 scare.
“During the run-up to the  election we nearly had a vast panic over the approaching ‘flu pandemic’. There is a whole PhD thesis to be written about the ‘pandemics’ that never arise,” the former Labour leader remarked snidely.
“In this case the WHO [World Health Organization] had issued a report claiming there would be 500,000-700,000 deaths across the world… I am afraid I tried to do the minimum we could with the minimum expenditure. I understood the risk, but it just didn’t seem to me that the ‘panpanic’ was quite justified,” he pronounced.
Tony Blair Calls for a ‘Radical Acceleration’ of Vaccinations, Introduction of ‘Health Passports’ https://t.co/qOEAhBZb3k
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 25, 2020
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who was leader of the Conservative Party opposition during part of Blair’s premiership, said the revelations had reduced the Labour grandee from “Captain Hubris to Captain Hindsight,”
“Mr Blair left office more than a decade ago, but over the last few years there have been some near misses with possible pandemics, that should have been a wake-up call for governments worldwide to co-ordinate and prepare,” responded a spokesman for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change on his behalf.
“He would never dismiss expert opinion, as evidenced most recently in the Institute’s work on Covid, but as ever in politics you listen to a wide range of opinions, from experts and others, and you make a judgement,” the spokesman added.
Tony Blair: 'Our Teams Are Embedded in Governments Around the World' https://t.co/IlnE1mvxhq
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 10, 2020