In a piece of character assassination on Cherie Blair in the Observer (one so comprehensive that she would almost certainly describe it as ‘misogynistic’, if it came from a male writer), Catherine Bennett makes at least one palpable hit. Forget the inane boastfulness and obsessive self-justification against every suggestion of venality:
She complains how the Daily Mail ‘ratcheted up its attacks on me’, demanding to know – though Mr Blair could have answered just as well – if Leo had had the MMR. Doctors were also keen for the Blairs to help subdue a scare which threatened public health. Now she discloses that Leo had, indeed, been vaccinated, though she would not save lives at the time if it gave ‘the press chapter and verse’.
I wonder, though, whether it is not even worse than that. It is possible that the Blairs might have withheld the information, not out of genuine concern for their family’s privacy (effectively discounted by the present revelation, as Bennett points out), nor out of pique at the press, as in Cherie Blair’s current account, but for political reasons: that they preferred to keep silent, and thereby to encourage the spread of dangerous infectious diseases against which they had quite properly protected their own infant, in order not to cross the noisy anti-vaccination lobby.
Since we saw them use family events to political purpose at much the same time, it would be entirely consistent with their known behaviour. The Blairs have never avoided telling other people what to think when they stood to get a tactical political gain, or when they believed it necessary for their great projects for the world. But concealing an actual belief in vaccination looks like sacrificing other people’s children to calculation of the most self-regarding kind.