'This Week' Transcript: Tony Blair

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AMANPOUR: You obviously had also a lot of dealings with him at the height of the troubles when he was involved in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, there was the impeachment. How did you see him get through his political life at that point?

BLAIR : By the most extraordinary strength of character. I mean, I came across him in some of the worst parts of all them impeachment business. And his ability somehow to kind of refocus on the job and get it done. I remember sitting there thinking I could not do that if all that was going on around me. I just couldn't do it. But he did.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about your view of why he got himself into this situation.

"I was also convinced that his behavior arose in part from him inordinate interest in and curiosity about people. In respect of men it was expressed in friendship. In respect of women there was potentially a sexual element."

His curiosity led to that?

BLAIR: Look, I think probably what I wrote is what I wrote. I think if I try explaining it I'll get into difficulty. I think that there are people who are -- part of his genius of a politician is he is extraordinarily curious about people.

AMANPOUR: you do address the issue of sex and politicians. You basically say, you know, in terms of why they take this risk.

BLAIR: Yes.

AMANPOUR: You say, "My theory is it's precisely because of the supreme self control that you have to exercise to be at the top. Politicians live with pressure... " Et cetera. So?

BLAIR: So that's what you do, really?

AMANPOUR: What, go and have affairs?

BLAIR: No. You live with pressure.

AMANPOUR: No. And then you say, "your free bird instincts want to spring you from the prison of self control. Then there's the moment of encounter. So exciting, so naughty, so lacking in self control."

BLAIR: Yes. So I'm trying to say -- it's one of the things you come across when you're a political leader obviously that you see people you hope you never get mixed up in some of that. But you see that situation develop.

People today want to know so much more about their politicians. If they do they've got to understand they're also human beings and you've got to be somewhat forgiving therefore of the human frailty. I think. That's my view.

AMANPOUR: You talk about the human frailty of alcohol, as well. You say the relationship between alcohol and prime ministers is a subject for a book all on its own.

BLAIR: Yes.

AMANPOUR: What was your relationship with alcohol?

BLAIR: well, It's a good question. I started to write about it in the book, thought about it, actually. You've got to be careful writing about these things.

AMANPOUR: but was it a prop for you...did it become a prop for you? You talk about a stiff whiskey or a gin and tonic before dinner. A couple of glasses of wine.....Not excessively excessive. I had a limit but I was aware that it had become a prop.

BLAIR: Yes you've got to be careful of it becoming a problem. At some points it can be. now I was never quite sure, because sometimes it's a relaxation at the end of the day and.... this year for the first time, my wife's been on me to do this for ages, I gave it up for lent. so went for the six weeks without it. It was interesting. (laughs)

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