I wanted this book to be different from the traditional political memoir. Most, I have found, are rather easy to put down. So what you will read here is not a conventional account of whom I met. There are events and politicians who are absent, not because they don't matter, but because they are part of a different story to the self-serving one I want to tell!
No, seriously guys, this is going to be well different. How many other world leaders use so many exclamation marks! And it is as a world leader that I'm writing for you about my journey. And what a journey! When I started in politics I was just an ordinary kind of guy. And you know what? I'm still an ordinary kind of guy – albeit one who has become a multi-millionaire and completely destabilised the Middle East!
You know, I had a tear in my eye when I entered No10 for the first time in 1997, though it wasn't, as the Daily Mail tried to claim, because I was choked with emotion at how far I had come since I was a young, ordinary boy standing on the terraces of St James' Park, watching Jackie Milburn play for Newcastle. It was because Gordon had hit me. Ah, Gordon! He meant well, I suppose, in his funny little emotionally inarticulate way.
I guess some of you will find it hard to believe, but I never really wanted to be a politician. But sometimes courage is about taking the difficult decisions and when Cherie said, "God is calling you to fulfil your destiny", I knew I had to listen. So it was with a heavy heart that I outmanoeuvred Gordon over the leadership of the party after John's death – and whatever Gordo says there was never a deal struck at Granita where he could take definitely take over after my second term. Because I had my fingers crossed!
The first year in office was pretty exciting and it was great fun having my old mates like Anji in the office. (I'd tried to get in to her sleeping bag once when I was 16 but she kicked me out! Her loss!) The death of the People's Princess came as a blow – I always found the Royal Family a bit freaky! – but I had a real sense the public were willing me to succeed. A pity the same couldn't be said for the media who were only too willing to see the worst in the Bernie Ecclestone and Peter Mandelson affairs. Looking back, I feel bad about forcing Peter to resign. But at the time it was him or me. So what the hell!
I find also that Mo Mowlam's part in the Northern Ireland peace process has been rather overstated. So to put the record straight, it was all down to me. The talks had reached an impasse and I said to Gerry and David, "Look guys, we're on a journey," and they said, "Cool Tony, We're with you."
If only Iraq had been that simple. I know there are some of you out there who want me to apologise, but life isn't that simple when there's a war crimes indictment at stake. Look, I feel the deaths of our servicemen every bit as keenly as if the bullets had pierced me like stigmata, but sometimes one has to just stand up and do the right thing even if the evidence isn't there. OK, I will admit I did have a bit of a wobbly – Cherie had to give me big cuddles, know what I mean! – when it turned out Saddam didn't have WMD, but I honestly never lied about them. It was just one, small, teeny mistake and everyone tore me to pieces! Give us a break! And for the record I didn't always have a plan to go to war. The first I heard of it was when Statesman George – Top bloke! Top thinker! – phoned to say US troops were going in!
I was pretty fed up when everyone failed to see what we had achieved in Iraq, but an audience with the Pope, who said, "It is you who should be baptising me", soon cheered me up. And I felt a sense of duty to protect the country from Gordon's incompetence. "You're just waiting until everything's about to go pear-shaped," he would yell. As if! It was only my darling John Prescott's desire to be out of the limelight as my deputy that prompted my resignation. Selfless little old moi!
Yet, though I feel proud of my achievements and sad at the direction the Labour party is now taking, my journey is not over. It continues ever onwards into farce. May my blessings rain upon the Middle East!
Digested read, digested A journey . . . along the path of self-righteousness.