by RAY FLEMING
HOW many Tony Blairs are there? In terms of the jobs he holds down, six or seven, ranging from adviser to the Wall Street bank, JP Morgan Chase, to 150'000 pounds after-dinner speaker wherever he's invited. But there are apparently also two Tony Blairs in a single job, for instance in his self-styled “peace envoy” role in the Middle East on behalf of the so-called Quartet of UN, EU, Russia and US. On the critical and contentious issue of whether or not the Quartet should talk to Hamas in the course of its efforts to find a solution to the Israel-Palestinian problem, Mr Blair has consistently said No ever since the Quartet refused to recognise the Hamas victory in Palestinian election three years ago - and was still saying No in TV interviews as recently as three days ago. Yesterday, however, in the course of six pages of The Times devoted to an interview with him, Mr Blair said enough to encourage a front page headline “West must talk to Hamas” and another “Blair says it's time to work with Hamas” and another “We can no longer push Gaza aside”. In the interview Mr Blair justified his schizophrenic position by distinguishing between talking to Hamas as the de facto power in Gaza and accepting it as a participant in the peace process. I would have thought the two roles are inseparable and in the end the two Mr Blair's will find themsleves having to agree that is so.