April 29th, 2005

The Eyes Of Tony Blair

I wasn't going to watch the big election broadcast last night, but the remote chance of seeing Blair publicly humiliated was too tempting to miss. Of course, in the event, the man's glibness and self-belief carried him through. He saw off questions from the public with bursts of trademark sincerity, and only Dimbleby, the professional interviewer, managed to get under his guard with a question about why he had refused to debate the other party leaders face to face. Obviously Blair hadn't expected that one and for a delicious, lengthened moment he went blank and glared furiously at Dimbleby's crotch with his teeth bared. But then he recovered with a laugh.

Blair used to be good-looking in a boyish sort of a way. Seven years in power have turned him into a goblin. Steve Bell, the Guardian's premier cartoonist, has picked up on something mad and strange about his eyes and gives him a right that's tiny and dull and a left that's the size of a soup plate. Certainly there's a discrepancy. They don't quite seem to work together. It's as if one of them (but which one?) were glass.

He looks tired. The leaking of the attorney general's pre-war advice on Iraq must have been a big blow. It gives us the dots and tittles on how he and his gang finangled the evidence. He wants to talk about the economy and schools and stuff like that but the war is the defining event of his premiership and he can't escape it. Even if he wins the election- and he probably will because the opposition is so god-awful- there's a comfort in knowing he'll go down to history as the Man Who Lied.