Amazing how quickly Blair has receded from public consciousness. After dominating the headlines for a dozen years, he has pretty much disappeared.
Probably too early to really know what his legacy is, but currently, it feels incredibly shallow. A continuation of Thatcherite policies of promote free-markets and centralise the state. The Thick Of It style aggressive, tribal politics.
I guess his real legacy will be reinventing the Labour Party - no small achievement (for good or ill). And the war in Iraq.
Anyway, while thinking about writing a play about him, I've dug out some Conference speeches. And I find them strangely compelling. As Simon Hoggart has pointed out, he favoured verbless sentences. So it reads like a collection of haikus that teeter on the edge between meaning and nonsense.
Here's his conference speech from 2004:
Labour is working.
Britain is working.
The longest period of economic growth since records began, an economy now bigger than that of Italy and France.
The lowest unemployment and highest employment rate of any of our competitors for the first time since the 1950s.
Living standards up, for everyone, and for the poorest up most.
The biggest reductions in child poverty and biggest increases in investment for decades.
This isn't a country in decline.
The British people aren't a people on the way down.
We are winning. They are winning.
And why did they vote for change? Because we had the courage of our convictions and we dared to change....
For so long, we knew only the importance and futility of Opposition.
But because we dared to change, we dared to dream that we could win again.
And we did.
And now we stand, in a position no Labour Party ever dared to dream of standing before, with a third term Labour Government beckoning.
With the values for today and the ideas for tomorrow, and a policy programme that will change the country for better and for good.
Power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many, not the few.
That was and is our mission and our purpose.
I want us to win a third term not so that we can go in the history books.
But so that we can consign Britain's failings to the history books.
Build on the progress we have made.
Give everyone the chance to make the most of themselves.
Deliver better lives for working families.
United in our values, proud in our record, optimistic about the future.
With the courage of our convictions, we can win the third term, deliver the lasting change.
It is worth the fight.
Now let's get out and do it.
And this, from 1999:
We know what a 21st century nation needs.
A knowledge-based economy. A strong civic society. A confident place in theworld.
Do that and a nation masters the future. Fail and it is the future's victim.
The challenge is how?
The answer is people.
The future is people.
The liberation of human potential not just as workers but as citizens.
Not power to the people but power to each person to make the most of what is within them.
People are born with talent and everywhere it is in chains.
"The Future Is People" would make a good title for a play, I think.
An interesting piece by Tim Adams in The Observer about Thatcher's legacy. What sets it apart is that he actually travelled to Grantham to assess how she's seen there.
The results? Overwhleming indifference. A small exhibit in the corner of the local museum and not much else. Amazing when you think that US Presidents get huge library complexes, however awful they've been.
Not sure whether it says more about Thatcher - perhaps her legacy isn't quite as strong as we sometimes think - or the British flair for understatement.
Then again, reading the ranting comments under the article, she still seems able to rouse plenty of passion.
(Tim Adams interviewed me for the article. But I'm not sure how he managed to re-locate one of my characters to South Wales...)
Strange how many plays I've seen in the past year or so that involve people being locked into their own homes. Relocated; The Walworth Farce; The New Electric Ballroom. And now Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham.
Relocated was very obviously influenced by the Josef Fritzl case (though the Enda Walsh play pre-date it) and I wonder if Stenham was, too. For though her child characters aren't literally captive in their new flat, their mother is missing and they know that, if found, they will be put into care. There's also a basement...
It's a powerful, entertaining and very sad play about how children try to survive parental neglect but are ultimately bound to suffer. Great seeing it in the Royal COurt Theatre Upstairs, so close to the action, and with one of the youngest audiences I've ever seen - the majority must have been late teens or early twenties.
I interviewed the screenwriter, Guy Hibbert, about Five Minutes Of Heaven for the Writers' Guild a couple of months ago and I think knowing the background to the script made watching the film even more rewarding than it would otherwise have been.
Then again, I suppose I missed out on some of the suspense - I knew, roughly, how it would turn out.
Either way, I thought it was a brilliant piece of drama. Great acting, great direction and a very truthful feel to the whole piece.
The writing was terrific. Bold enough to leave long silences yet also with some monologues from James Nesbitt that reminded me of Enda Walsh.
The end, so succinct and powerful and right, was brilliantly realised.