Dear George… Yours ever Tony
Letters are once more in the news, particularly in Britain, and not in a good way. The Chilcot Report is at last out, and the released copies of various of Tony Blair’s letters to George Bush do not make for edifying reading. Whatever one’s position on the Iraq War, reading the amount of refined brown-nosing in these is unpleasant. It has been commented that the tone of them is due to Blair’s attempts to influence Bush and thus US policy. Really? Flattery and gush and not much else?
For some letters which really are politically performative, try Olive Schreiner’s at www.oliveschreiner.org. To equally powerful figures in her political context, say to John Merriman or Jan Smuts, her letters are upfront, detailed, serious. Comments of an ‘It was a brilliant speech’ ilk are followed by telling them how they had got it wrong. They were doing some serious things, and she took this and them equally seriously. Compare with this:
It was a brilliant speech. It puts us on exactly the right strategy to get the job done. The reception has been very positive with everyone now challenged to come up to the mark. Well done.
Last updated: 7 July 2016