Seen The Ghost?

Posted by HC in Books / Controversies / Ethics / Spirituality / UK politics on 26 August 2008

Robert Harris’ thriller The Ghost is a brilliant lark. It succeeds because you could enjoy it without knowing much about Tony Blair, Cherie Blair, Anji Hunter and all the other people who have been described as the reality on which Harris has spun a fictional web. But there are some quite big gaps in Harris’s satire.

For some years I made repeated if half-hearted attempts to become an advisor to Tony Blair. I dared to imagine that I could help him wrestle with the problem of reconciling his urges to be a warrior and a Christian. Anyway, he – or his people – didn’t bite. When I read The Ghost, I found myself missing the essential dilemma in describing (or satirising) Blair. Harris does describe how one never knows whether Blair actually had any conviction or was merely an actor. But Harris avoids altogether the greater piquancy, which is whether Blair had a rather barmy religious conviction about his higher purposes. What’s interesting about Blair is not only whether he had convictions but on what he based whatever convictions he had. Anyway Blair is much more interesting than Lang is.  

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