Bono could have been prime minister, says Tony Blair
Former prime minister claims in memoir that U2 frontman could have ended up in No 10 if he hadn’t chosen pop over politics
Blair’s new book, A Journey, is the hottest thing in bookshops this week. It captures the government equivalent of band in-fighting – Brown and Blair like the Gallagher brothers – and even Blair’s struggle with alcohol. But it’s also got a tiny bit of real rock stardom, particularly in a passage on Bono.
On page 555 (via Spinner), Blair praises Bono as pop’s answer to Barack Obama – someone who could cross party lines and get things done. “I knew he would work with George [W Bush] well, and with none of the prissy disdain of most of his ilk,” Blair writes. “[Bono] could have been a president or prime minister standing on his head. He had an absolutely natural gift for politicking, was great with people, very smart and an inspirational speaker … [He was] motivated by an abundant desire to keep on improving, never really content or relaxed.
Although he doesn’t name his favourite U2 album, Blair does recall anti-Thatcher concerts by Red Wedge in the late 80s. “There was a group of musicians … fronted by people like Paul Weller and Billy Bragg, who came out and campaigned for us,” he writes. “It was great. But I remember saying after one of their gigs … ‘We need to reach the people listening to Duran Duran and Madonna.’ … [The idea] went down like a cup of sick.”
Celebrities, Blair explains, “can reinforce, even boost [a political] message … What they can’t do, of course, is substitute for the politics … but properly used, they help. And frankly, given the difficulty in rousing the damn thing, [Labour] needed the help.” Perhaps U2 could write a new soundtrack for Blair’s audiobook.