Tony Blair: 'He's always been a freewheeler,' says Labour party historian Ross McKibbin. Photograph: Blair Gable/Reuters
Tony Blair: from New Labour hero to political embarrassment
Rebekah Brooks jokes with Tony Blair, 2004. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA
With his salesman's smile and large self-belief, his ex-barrister's ability to accept and argue not necessarily compatible things, Blair has always been a slippery and restless public figure. "He's kind of a freewheeler, and always was," says the historian of the Labour party Ross McKibbin. "Being a freewheeler did him well, initially." Yet since Downing Street, Blair's "journey", already often controversial, has taken him into ever more contentious territories.
Wendi Deng: Blair has repeatedly denied rumours of an affair with the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch. Photograph: Louis Lanzano/AP
Tony Blair's £4m country home: South Pavilion at Wotton House in Buckinghamshire. Photograph: John O'Reilly/Rex Features
A well-connected New Labour source says: "Someone who knows Tony very well said to a friend of mine recently: 'He's very unhappy.' It's a false life he's leading. And the rich are boring. What has happened to Tony has elements of tragedy."