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Frederick Forsyth: Blair Worst Leader in a Century

Tuesday, 05 April 2005 12:00 AM

Aged 31, penniless and unemployed, Frederick Forsyth took up writing. It was 1970.

"Money was a serious issue. I had no flat, no car and no job," he tells NewsMax. His solution? Write a thriller. For 35 days, Forsyth battered away on his old, portable typewriter, twelve hours a day to produce the Day of the Jackal. Not a word of it was changed.

Based on an attempted assassination plot on French President, Charles de Gaulle, the book was "written in a fit of money lust," says Forsyth. It was not an instant success. Four publishers rejected it. When finally one agreed to publish the book, it took another three years for the author to make any serious money from the work. "That's when U.S. publishers bought the rights to the book for $365,000, half of which came to me and the other half to the [UK] publishers." The book was soon made in to a film, starring Edward Fox. Forsyth became a household name, and rich. He went on to pen a string of thrillers such as The Fourth Protocol, Odessa File and Dogs of War.

Today, at age 67, Frederick Forsyth still has his chiselled, tanned, good looks. He has sold over 61 million books and has a reputation for being a Jeffrey Archer without the scandal.

Yet this writer seems rattled, discontented and full of angst. Perhaps it is the aging process. He refers to his "old man's bladder" as he heads to the restroom. He has no time for computers or emails. "I am a techno peasant," he says. "At home, I just have my old typewriter … and I don't need a mobile," he adds. "Perhaps I'm just being mischievous." It is a curious reaction, given that Forsyth makes much use of his close ties to the Intelligence Services and his masterful knowledge of the latest in technological warfare in his books, many of which revolve around espionage plots.

He seems bored with writing. His last book, Avenger, was published in 2003, after a four-year gap when many had thought Forsyth had given up on writing, "I'd like to vary the menu," he says. "There are so many other subjects in the world but the thrills and spills are by public demand."

Mention politics though, and Forsyth's eyes light up. He booms with that authoritative voice "Tony Blair is the worst Prime Minister that Britain's had for a century," he says. "We live in a very good country; I just wish Mr. Blair would stop buggering about with it."

Forsyth's hatred of Tony Blair is vented frequently in the columns he writes for the Daily Express, or the letter pages of other British newspapers. A regular five minute slot on the BBC's prime news programme, Today, was axed a few years back after Forsyth's diatribes against Tony Blair's government became too acidic and hard-hitting for the BBC to bear.

When Tony Blair became prime minister in 1997, Forsyth responded by joining the defeated Conservative Party. Today, he is one of the party's major donors, and one of the Tories' top celebrity speakers. This year alone he has addressed over 40 meetings. His powerful, bombastic rhetoric, delivered in clipped and masterful tones, never fails to stir passion and adoration in party activists.

Yet Forsyth is a bit of an unguided missile. Financially independent, uninterested in power himself or any formal position, he is a free agent ready to back any cause or issue that takes his fancy.

Recently, Forsyth backed a campaign to impeach the British Prime Minister even though this went against Conservative party policy. Why? "Because Tony Blair lied to the House of Commons over the issue of weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraqi war."

He says the impeachment proceedings were never likely to succeed because Mr. Blair has such a majority in the House of Commons. But what Forsyth hoped to achieve was to trigger a fresh debate on the way Blair "sexed up" claims that WMD existed, and lied to the House of Commons and British public.

Everyone in the intelligence community knew that Blair was lying about the existence of WMD, according to Forsyth. "The truth was that Britain, like the U.S., had poor intelligence in Iraq. It was almost impossible to get spies into Iraq. There was no hard information. We could only judge by Iraq's purchases, as we had no men on the ground. Saddam would claim that materials imported into Iraq such as fertilizers that could have been used for nerve gases were in fact intended for agricultural purposes." Forsyth bitterly regrets that the Butler Report failed to bring Tony Blair to book.

What then does Forsyth make of the so-called "Neoconservative agenda" to democratize the Middle East? "It is the most extraordinary gamble. The events leading to 9/11 were an awesome series of errors. No one can blame George W. Bush, as he had only been in office a few months. But since 9/11, President Bush has devised, with the help of his extremists, ‘a master plan' to bring Western-style democracy to a huge area of the Third World. Bush takes a view that out of this egg will hatch a cockerell which will topple the dictators of the world."

It is too early to tell but Forsyth is sceptical. "We won't get on top of this for two decades. I wouldn't bet my money on it succeeding." Indeed, he seems very gloomy, warning that the events of the 9/11 have marked the start of the second Cold War.

As for Bush himself, Forsyth says he is a much underrated president. If his master plan works he will be considered "immortal" but it could all turn into a Bay of Pigs, just on a larger scale.

Forsyth's favorite American President is Abraham Lincoln, "Partly because of his oratory and partly his example." He says Lincoln was "not perfect. Much of what is said about him is just not true – for example that Lincoln was not a racist. He was. Lincoln did not believe the black man had the right to work or the right to a profession; he thought they just did not have the brains. Today Lincoln would be indicted for expressing such views."

Forsyth was not surprised by the attack on the World Trade Center's twin towers. Over twenty years ago he says he had considered writing a novel based on a terrorist flying a plane into a skyscraper. He dropped the plot as readers would, he thought, find it too implausible, and it would be too easy to copy.

He says the idea came to him after 241 U.S. Marines were killed in 1983 when a Hezbollah terrorist drove a truck filled with explosives into a barracks on the outskirts of Beirut. "This was the first time in modern times where a terrorist was prepared to kill himself as part of the act of terrorism. It struck me then that if you were prepared to do that with a truck why not with an airplane?"

Forsyth interviewed a guard who stood at the front of the barracks who witnessed the truck hurtling towards the compound. "You know what he told me? As the driver headed to his death, he was smiling. He was wanting to die" It was the first time we had heard of terrorists being ready to die for their cause, he says. It was chilling and "so alien."

Now with the War on Terrorism in full swing, Forsyth worries about the loss of liberties occurring in the West and especially Britain. Blair's anti-terrorist legislation is an "outrage." How, he asks, can a government give itself power to arrest people it declares "enemies of the state" and keep citizens under house arrest on the basis of secret evidence?

The EU, which Forsyth detests, is no better. It has "abolished the writ of habeas corpus with its new European arrest warrant." British citizens no longer have a right of defense or right of appeal. Instead the British government will take you to Heathrow airport and throw you on an airplane. Why? "Because a magistrate in Salonica [Greece] has issued a European arrest warrant."

Forsyth also warns that the new election called for by Mr. Blair will be tougher than he realizes. "I have a deep loathing of New Labour and all its endless mendacity in office - its dissimulation, dissembling, and dishonesty. Its basic betrayal of the British people is unforgivable," he exhorts. "It's those things that offend me."

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Aged 31, penniless and unemployed, Frederick Forsyth took up writing. It was 1970. "Money was a serious issue. I had no flat, no car and no job," he tells NewsMax. His solution? Write a thriller. For 35 days, Forsyth battered away on his old, portable typewriter, twelve...
Frederick,Forsyth:,Blair,Worst,Leader,Century
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2005-00-05
Tuesday, 05 April 2005 12:00 AM
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