TONY BLAIR has admitted that his Christianity played a â€œhugely importantâ€ role during his premiership but he was forced to play down his religious conviction for fear of being seen by the public as â€œa nutterâ€.
In his most frank television interview about his religious beliefs, Blair confesses he would have found it difficult to do the job of prime minister had he not been able to draw on his faith.
The admission confirms why Alastair Campbell, then Blairâ€™s director of communications, was so wary of the prime minister mentioning religion. â€œWe donâ€™t do God,â€ he once said.
In a documentary to be broadcast on BBC1 next Sunday, Campbell now says of his former boss: â€œWell, he does do God â€“ in quite a big way.â€
The former spin doctor reveals that Christianity was so important to Blair that â€œwherever you were in the world on a Sunday you had to find a churchâ€.
In The Blair Years, the former prime minister, who is expected to convert to Roman Catholicism soon, compares the differing attitude to religion in British politics with that in America.
â€œItâ€™s difficult to talk about religious faith in our political system,â€ he says. â€œIf you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say â€˜Yes, thatâ€™s fair enoughâ€™ and it is something they respond to quite naturally. You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think youâ€™re a nutter. They sort of [think] you maybe go off and sit in the corner and commune with the man upstairs and then come back and say, â€˜Right, Iâ€™ve been told the answer and thatâ€™s itâ€™.â€
Blair once tersely denied that he prayed with President George W Bush in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, although Bush said his decision to go to war was â€œa mission from Godâ€.