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The BBC’s Blair and Brown: The New Labour Revolution is both compelling and chastening

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Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at Labour conference in 1999. Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images

At first sight, the BBC’s series Blair and Brown: the New Labour Revolution would appear to prove the adage that when ambition ends, happiness begins. Peter Mandelson purrs. Ed Balls beams. The air around Neil Kinnock is more redolent of something spicy by Jo Malone than of fire and brimstone. Give it time, though. Some are more peaceable than others. Before the first episode is over, Gordon Brown will indeed utter the words “it could have been me”, as if politics is just another reality show, and he has still not got over the fact that in the public vote, he lost out to a guy with too many teeth.

Tony Blair’s multitudinous incisors, incidentally, continue to mesmerise, though perhaps not quite so much as when they were matched with snow-washed jeans and the kind of political enthusiasm that can only come from not having grown up with the knot of vipers that is the Labour Party. Why, you wonder, did he want to get into politics at all? He presents his epiphany as architecture-induced. Visiting the Palace of Westminster, he gazed at the arches of........

© New Statesman

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