One of the more nauseating things about the United Kingdom’s so called quality press is their willingness to publish extracts from the memoirs of former Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers. With the advent of New Labour this elitist group has been extended to include former advisers of the war criminal Tony Blair. We recently had to endure Alistar Cambell’s offerings and now due to the Guardians largess it is the turn of Blair’s adviser and gofer Jonathan Powell.
None of the newspapers who wave their cheque books so readily to gain the right to publish these political memoirs have a history of serializing non political books. So why do they inflict on their readers the dreary drivel of the type that the readers of the Guardian are currently being exposed to. Anyone who has had the misfortune to have read any of these self serving tomes, will know only to well that one is unlikely to read anything startling, new or enlightening, unless one is a visitor from outer space that is. Not least because they have all been closely vetted by the Cabinet office and security services. They mainly contain “ain’t I great”, “let me get one last kick at my enemies goolies,”and “what a great human being and clever sod the boss was and how lucky he was to have me around.”
To justify the decision to publish such self serving expensive crap the editor of the paper will insist on a front page exclusive, in the case of Powell’s memoirs it is a peach and would have made Kelvin ‘Gotcha’ McKenzie proud. The front page of the Guardian proclaimed; ‘Revealed: Blair’s offer to meet masked IRA leaders; Series of secret meetings and deals only now disclosed.’ Firstly there was no meeting and was never going to be one between Blair and the Army Council of Óglaigh na hÉireann, masked or otherwise and Powell and the Guardian’s editor knows it, although long ago the PIRA chief of Staff Tom Murphy did once suggest the IRA should booby trap any conference table they were invited to sit around in case the negotiations with the English went badly;)
As to an exclusive, I think not as the Irish Peace Process was a whole series of secret meetings culminating in the Good Friday Agreement and almost all of these so called ‘secret meetings’ have been on the public record for some time.
So why do rational newspaper editors pay large sums for such tosh, two reasons, firstly it is payback time, senior newspaper people and senior politicians live in each others pockets, often for years on end, they both sup from the same teat. So it is hardly surprising that they should help cushion a politico’s retirement and in the process also send a message out to the up and coming generation of politicians and their advisers that it pays to stay within the loop.
Secondly people like Powell never really retire, hence their willingness to allow the security services to vet and censor their memoirs. They are always on call to be of use to the State and its establishment, thus at times these type of memoirs are serialized to fire a shot across a politicos bows to remind them who their masters are. They are also used to help recuperate the reputation of some failed politician, which in many ways makes their publication in a liberal newspaper all the more despicable.