LitFest 2016 Review – Tom Bower

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

by Sara Spratt

 photo credit Ben Phillips Photography

photo credit Ben Phillips Photography

This was a wide ranging and fascinating discussion between Tom Bower and James Naughtie about Bower’s recent book Broken Vows, his examination of Tony Blair’s decade in power. At times Naughtie’s questioning resembled a Today programme interrogation but Bower held his ground well.

Broken Vows is an indictment of Blair with Bower having had access to more than 180 Whitehall officials, politicians and military officers. The conversation dealt of course with Iraq, questioned whether Blair’s greatest mistake was not sacking Brown and considered matters such as the failure of Blair’s government to improve schools and health.

An audience member asked Bower if his book was in fact the case for the prosecution and indeed the interview appeared to confirm that view. When asked why he referred to Blair’s legacy as the Millenium Dome but largely ignored his landmark achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, Bower had no satisfactory answer.

Bower’s assertion that what today’s Labour party is lacking is suitably middle-class educated leadership caused a rumble in the audience and some of his comments about Gordon Brown would best not be repeated in front of Brown’s lawyers. General Sir Michael Jackson in the audience added an interesting military leadership viewpoint of Blair during questions.