“who do I buy and who do I sell?”

No tape, as yet, to accompany this interview – unlike yesterday – but there are elements in the short transcript of the Guardian’s interview with former SDLP MP Seamus Mallon which tally with what Peter Mandelson had to say.From the transcript

Q: Did you feel Tony Blair was being an honest broker?

Mallon: “Here was a guy with a moral dimension to everything. And I’m not sure at what point I began to realise that in his political dealings he was amoral and didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘honesty’.

“I don’t know whether that came all in one go, how quickly it came. At a point I came more and more to the view that this man’s word was worth nothing. I still don’t think it’s worth anything, by the way.

“That’s one of the most remarkable things about him. This man with a moral dimension to everything, who applied morality to nothing. I got increasingly to the point where I wouldn’t have taken his word for anything. And that was as a result of the dealings that I had with him.”

The morality, or otherwise, of certain decisions has been highlighted previously in regard to the current Secretary of State for Wales etc.… however troubled he protested he had been with that particular decision.

But there’s also the quote from Peter Mandelson which is in agreement with the general point made

“In order to keep the process in motion [Tony] would be sort of dangling carrots and possibilities in front of the republicans which I thought could never be delivered, that it was unreasonable and irresponsible to intimate that you could when you knew that you couldn’t.”

In case anyone needs a reminder, among other items that would include a certain target date.

It’s a policy Process™ which led Seamus Mallon to this conclusion

“In reality his whole strategy in terms of resolution of the Northern Ireland problem – I don’t use the term peace process – was ‘who do I buy and who do I sell’? At that time [1998] it was the Ulster Unionists. They had to be bought.

The latest episode of buying, and selling, is currently being discussed.

It’s just another contribution to the poisonous foundations of The Process™

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  • McGrath

    I had lunch with Seamus Mallon on the “commons” of Westminster approx 1995. I came away with 2 things, (1) I would never be an SLDP supporter. (2) He had leadership qualities that I have found yet to be surpassed.

    If Seamus Mallon is calling Tony Blair a bollix, then Tony Blair is definately a bollix.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    You seem to have been impressed with Mallon, yet you came away thinking you would never
    be an SDLP supporter? I’m intrigued. Can you elaborate?

    (I’ve always considered Mallon a giant among pygmies, both with his own party and in NI politics generally. Though I have to say I disagree with his take on the last decade – the opinion of a different generation, I suppose.)

  • The Dubliner

    Mallon doesn’t substantiate his impugning of Blair’s character with objective examples; he merely gives a subjective opinion that the reader is supposed to accept as valid on the basis of Mallon’s acquaintance with Blair. As he speaks of morality, his own action is questionable in that respect. Mandelson, at least, based his criticism of what he saw as duplicity with a solid example: Blair’s writing a ‘secret’ letter to PSF granting them concessions that the unionists weren’t to know about.

    Billy, what has admiring a person’s leadership ability got to do with how you feel about what they lead? He obviously gives his support to a political party based on other factors.

  • T.Ruth

    This is not about the effectiveness of hindsight -but I cannot believe that Blair’s lack of a moral dimension-political or personal can come as a surprise to anyone. Remember his written promises to the people of Northern Ireland-how long ago was that? He is to political integrity what George Bush is to civil rights.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    TB is a politician for whom the end justifies the means.

    He has lied and cheated people to get what he wants – Serbia/Bosnia (we must go in ,100,000 have been killed when the real figure was much lower at 10% or less), Iraq (WMD etc), Northern Ireland (look it’s in my handwriting) to name but a few.

    Should we be surprised?

    He is a politician.