Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution, evaluation: the painful reality of the Labour leaders’ bitter rivalry

Documentary collection Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution arrived with a BBC Two synopsis that begged to be learn out by the voice man who does Hollywood trailers: “From idealistic political hopefuls to battle-scarred political veterans – that is their story.” Just add a stirring Hans Zimmer rating and some explosions.

On the face of it, a collection about internecine struggles within the Labour Party doesn’t sound like one thing you’d settle all the way down to with a glass of wine and a bowl of peanuts. If that kind of factor floats your boat, you don’t need to look again to the Nineties for it. But my goodness, it’s an fascinating watch.

There is politics, after all, however at coronary heart it’s a personality research of two males and their flaws. The opening scenes pulled off a neat little trick of contrasting archive footage of the pair being interviewed as younger politicians with them sitting down for this programme. Brown nonetheless pensive and carrying the burden of the world on his shoulders; Blair chirpy and grinning, settling into his chair with a takeaway espresso in hand. But there’s one thing totally different about Blair now, and it’s not simply that his boyish appears have lengthy gone. It’s within the eyes. He appears uneasy.

The collection is by the individuals who introduced you Thatcher: A Very British Revolution and it has the identical really feel: what we’re getting right here is the unvarnished and typically painful reality, usually instructed in gossipy anecdotes. Sir Christopher Meyer recalled a Blair-Brown journey to the US to woo the Democrats, when Blair went full-beam whereas “Gordon Brown simply kind of sat there”. Meyer mused: “If God had picked up Tony Blair and put him into the American political system, Blair might have turn out to be president of the United States.” Blair, ever the worldwide chief, mentioned he noticed Bill Clinton as a “soulmate”.

This first episode handled the dying of John Smith and the battle to succeed him (though Blair was on manoeuvres whereas Smith was nonetheless alive). Both Blair and Brown thought it was their future, however Blair had the showmanship. Brown was left “damage, disbelieving, nearly inconsolable”, recalled Peter Mandelson, in a fashion that urged he relished the drama.

“If it had been apparent that the general public had most well-liked him to me, I’d have been glad sufficient to step again. But it actually wasn’t, that’s simply the way in which it’s and there’s no altering it,” Blair shrugged. He was appropriate, after all. “Well, it might have been me,” mentioned Brown. One wonders how this documentary would have turned out if the 2 of them had been requested to recount occasions whereas sitting aspect by aspect, like a pair in remedy airing their deepest grievances.

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