This Much I Know: Tony Blair
The envoy and politician, 58, on not being prime minister,
reading the Qur'an every day and his personal wealth
By Tim Adams, The Observer
Tony Blair photographed at his office in Grosvensor Square.
Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Observer
Sometimes it feels strange not to be prime minister – if you are at an occasion like the Obama speech, for example. But then you also have to remember what it was really like: the enormous responsibility, the huge daily pressure. I had 10 years of that, and I am not at all into looking backwards.
I've met Michael Sheen, and I watched the Brian Clough film, which I thought was brilliant. But I haven't seen him playing me. I know I'd just be screaming at the TV: "It wasn't like that at all!"
I have always been very certain about my ethical values, but I have always tried to have the appropriate level of self-doubt about the solutions they suggest.
I was in Brazil working at the time of the royal wedding. They have their protocols and it didn't trouble me in the least that I wasn't there. I was absolutely fine about it. Really. And that's the honest truth.
People still ask me if military decisions in Iraq or Afghanistan were based on some kind of divine instruction. It's rubbish. Of course not. Just as I couldn't go into a corner and pray to ask God what the minimum wage should be.
I was a child of the 70s, not the 60s. It's a very important difference. I came out of university in 1975. Life had got tougher. Idealism wasn't enough; we were far more practically focused.
To be faith-literate is crucial in a globalised world, I believe. I read the Bible every day. I read the Qur'an every day. Partly to understand some of the things happening in the world, but mainly just because it is immensely instructive.
Reports of my wealth are greatly exaggerated.
The experiment that said "the bigger the state, the more just the society" clearly failed. There is no point pretending that it didn't.
I would never have used Peter Mandelson's phrase about being relaxed about people getting filthy rich. But should Lionel Messi – or an investment banker – earn more in a week than a nurse earns in five years? You can debate that, but I don't know the answer. One thing I am sure of is that the way to make poor people better off is not just to target a wealthier group of people and take their money off them.
The most fascinating thing to me now is learning about the places where I work. In the Israeli-Palestinian situation, for example, my understanding is significant layers deeper and better than it was when I was prime minister.
People always used to say to me: listen to the people. That was a fine idea, of course, but unfortunately the people were all saying different things.
The social media, I know, is having an enormous impact in places like the West Bank and Gaza. But I've not tweeted. Wouldn't know how.
I was a very different prime minister at the beginning to the one I was at the end. The irony is I was probably best at the job at the end, but least popular in doing it.
A Journey by Tony Blair (Arrow, £9.99) is out now in paperback and is also available as an ebook
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