Category Archives: Chilcot Inquiry

Blair: dishonesty and dishonour

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Lack of character plus moral grandiosity, a lethal combination

The grandiose are found out by reality, and left squirming

Tony Blair, writes Dalrymple, exhibits

the most frivolous earnestness. He is given to gushes of cheap moral enthusiasm — cheap, that is, for him, not for others who have to pay for it.

Blair has been

exposed as the frog in Æsop’s fable that puffs and puffs himself up in an attempt to prove himself as big as the cow, until he explodes. But we cannot blame him entirely. He is one of us, the new Britons. The least we can do is to put some teddy-bears by the railings outside his home to help him come to terms with his humiliation.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 09.50.34Britain, Dalrymple reminds us, is

of very slight account, with a population increasingly unable to distinguish the trivial from the important and the virtual from the real. It has over several decades undergone profound social and psychological changes, of which Blair is both a symptom and an accelerating cause.

When moral grandiosity meets lack of character,

no good can result. Grandiosity and lack of character are two sides of the same coin. When someone believes that he is born with Original Virtue, he comes to believe that all his opinions, all his ends and all his actions are pure, moral and right. He is able to change from moment to moment, and to act in a completely unscrupulous manner. He may act in contradictory ways and change his opinions to their very opposites, but the purity of motive remains when everything else has disappeared.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 09.19.39Such a person

can have no honour, for honour implies a loyalty to a fixed standard, even or especially when it is not in that person’s immediate or instrumental interest to uphold it.

The lack of character

derives also from the elevation of sensibility over sense and of personal opinion over personal probity. Purity of sentiment and opinion become the whole of virtue, and the louder one expresses it the better the person is; morality is not a discipline and an abjuration but an opportunity to shine in front of one’s peers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 10.23.23Needless to say,

purity of sentiment and opinion are not incompatible with our old and trusted friend, the thirst for power, a combination which naturally enough results in a bullying sentimentality and a self-righteous lack of scruple.

The desire to be

both policeman and lady almoner, General Patton and Gandhi, Rambo and Elizabeth Fry, is not conducive to clear thinking or clear policy.

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Blair’s psychodramatics

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.32.03The words good and bad faith, writes Dalrymple, have no application in the case of Tony Blair,

for just as a man who has no concept of the truth cannot be a liar, so Mr Blair, whose mind resembles the Goodwin Sands, is incapable of bad faith because he is incapable of good.

Dalrymple has long puzzled over Blair’s

particular psychopathology, which has irritated me because, while Blair is important, he is uninteresting – apart, that is, from his psychopathology.

Blair’s

cardinal symptom is a delusion of honesty.

He

believes himself to be an honest man, all evidence to the contrary.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.50.04Along with his

peculiar truth-blindness

goes

an invincible sense of Original Virtue. No action by someone possessed of Original Virtue can besmirch him. He will always be able to reply to his accuser: ‘Surely you cannot believe that I acted from discreditable motives? Even if I was in the wrong, I was, in a deeper sense, in the right.’

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