Here are the videos, in full: Munk Debates: Tony Blair vs Christopher Hitchens
And here is the transcript, in full (£): ‘Religion is a force for good.’ ‘Oh no it’s not!’ Tony Blair versus Christopher Hitchens
And here is a recap (£), worryingly titled: Dying author gives Blair a taste of hell
A neat (and oh the last line of this does amuse me so) setup:
As it was, the spectacle of a former world statesman taking part in such an exercise was made surreal enough by the obvious ill-health of Hitchens, who has already lost all his hair to chemotherapy.
Looking pale and nauseous, the author coughed and gulped throughout. During one uncomfortable moment he had to take a break, saying, “Do excuse me, sorry … this sometimes happens.” Later, when he stood up, it appeared as though he needed a chair for support.
Blair, in maximum contrast, strolled onto the stage in a flawlessly tailored blue designer suit — no tie — with a brilliant white shirt.
He was paid an undisclosed sum for his appearance by the organiser (a charity founded by Peter Munk, the Canadian goldmine owner). A spokesman said the sum was donated in full to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which describes itself as promoting “understanding and respect about the world’s major religions and [showing] how faith is a powerful force for good in the modern world”.
The former prime minister did sound unusually hoarse, however, which might have been no bad thing when trying to win sympathy from a rival, who was described with minimal tact by the Toronto Sun newspaper as “dead author talking”.
Oh, what would we do without the tabloid Suns of the world.
It does drive me crazy when people (ahem, Mr Hitchens) attribute the entirety of the Ireland issue lazily to religious divisions, though. I didn’t think he’d be quite so obtuse there.