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Quite surreal

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Nick Robinson | 16:29 UK time, Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Tony Blair speaking at the Labour Party conferenceMaybe the most significant thing about Tony Blair's speech (watch it in full here) is not what was he said, but the tone with which he said it. The prime minister made it easy for his party to say goodbye to him - he made it easy for Labour to move on.

The speech could have been one of defiance aimed at those who've tried to bring him down, or one of anger towards Gordon Brown. It could have been a lecture to the next leader about what he should do. It was none of those things.

It is hard, against the backdrop of this speech - the nostalgic atmosphere, the crack in his voice, Blair's family gathered around him - to imagine the prime minister waiting more than half a year to hand in his resignation. And in theory, of course, he may not resign until next May, with a series of vital decisions to take, people to meet and things to achieve. It's quite surreal.

The unofficial agreement at this conference was supposed to be 'don't mention the war', don't mention the timetable. That only changed because Cherie, allegedly, slipped up yesterday. And wasn't it stylish how Blair dealt with that. Even I'm getting nostalgic.


  • 1.
  • At 04:49 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Jenny Roberts wrote:

It's funny how Mr Frown hasn't even acceded to the throne and we're already seeing the revisionists at work on Tony ...

Meanwhile, have you seen the enjoyable piece on climate change?

Nick - you are right about the tone, it was the content which wound me up, maybe I am just too sensitive to politicians and their ways, so here is what I feel about the fairwell Tony speech:

Was that Tony Blair?

Yes I am asking the question, was that Tony Blair we heard in Manchester today? He fair took my breath away. Mind you if we are easily persuaded by rhetoric and a practiced speech maker, we are then in for a dull old time with what comes next.

Consummate delivery and professional polish do a lot these days, to make us forget what is actually said in speeches and don’t forget this was aimed at the labour party faithful and those lucky enough to watch it live on TV. I was unlucky enough, yet lucky enough if you get my drift to be challenged in my thoughts and feelings about Mr Blair.

I have never doubted his sincerity of purpose. And you know this means I do forgive some of his ways. I do however doubt what he claims his party have achieved and what his party are capable of doing next. In essence he is a believable Medicine Doctor, with his Blairite elixir, take a spoonful three times a day and your eyes will glaze and you’ll believe everything he the Medicine Doctor tells you.

Well, as for Foreign Policy and his views. He is responsible, and he knows it and denies it. He is Prime Minister, so he is responsible. And as for his actions and deceptions, or might we suggest accommodations with his ally and ours, Mr Bush, it was Blair no one else. As to Israel and Lebanon, Blair let it go a long time before he said a thing, and then too late and Lebanon is flattened. And that’s just recently.

And what of rendition, and human rights. And what of Africa today and the Sudan? Rhetoric and death follow him like shadows at his sides. And he cries for them in his speech. Not good enough to cover up, he pretends its nothing to do with him.

And as to Iraq and Afghanistan, quick fixes just went plain wrong. And now he says it will take a generation. He never said that back then. And he was just plain wrong and gung ho. We pay the price.

And the economy. It had little to do with Blair. Yet he implies it was him and his leadership. Or was it in spite of him and his efforts, it still did well?
And to Hospitals and Schools and Community and care. Well it don’t feel like he talks it. If he were on the receiving end of the welfare state, then he’d soon change his tune.

And immigration and ID cards and all that jazz. Yes mate, you haven’t done a blinking bit of use yet, and we still go for old ways to deal with new migrating populations.

And our prisons are full and the Home Office is pretty screwed up, and we all suffer because of it and you got it wrong Mr Blair and how many have you sacked along the way? Those were not affairs of state in the main, just affairs of the personal kind it transpires. By the gravy train operatives.

If nothing else this Mr Blair, he can talk a good story, and when it comes to the crunch, it’s a load of old tosh, and served up as a feast. If labour party members belief that, then we are in desperate need for a new leader of something somewhere to tell us the truth.

Cor Blimey, where does he live? It can’t be the UK, or does he. Maybe its all me, and I’ve got it wrong, and God knows where I’m living, its not where Blair resides, or maybe it is and I’m the deluded one.

A darn good speech delivered with aplomb, full of complete tosh, and made to sound like truth. Its his greatest asset if there was to make failure sound like success. A spinner from the start and finishing just as adept, now off with you Blair as soon as you can, and let a realist take over and make good some of what you suggest.

I don’t envy Gordon, or whoever they pick, they are in a pickle, and stuck with pick n mix.

As to the future, he’ll be able to bark, “I told you so”, yes mate you will, its your legacy we all will live. And don’t you forget it Blair, you are the builder here, not others. Sand and Castles come to mind. Stormy weather ahead!

  • 3.
  • At 05:04 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Bill C wrote:

I find myself liking him more and Brown less, which is strange since I wasn't a huge fan of Tony's project generally. One gets the feeling that for all the accusations of spin, he is actually a real person. In that sense I find it hard not to like him. Which, as I said, is more than I can say for how I feel about Gordon...

  • 4.
  • At 05:06 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

What about the real wars he's got us involved in? He is still young enough to undertake military servce!

Paul Smith

  • 5.
  • At 05:07 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Vincenzo Rampulla wrote:

Jenny Roberts -

That animation was soo funny, and exactly like the Lib Dems: likely to scare little children; don't look quite right and better with the sound off.

Anyways, what's this about almost 10mins of standing ovation...a)I didn't know conference organisers were that good and b)I thought they couldn't wait to see him leave?

  • 6.
  • At 05:09 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

Tony Blair is the best prime minister that we have had this century.

I fully expect that if Gordon Brown gets in the above fact will still be true but will actually mean something ;-)

  • 7.
  • At 05:12 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • john wrote:

Yet another superb performance from a consummate actor. You can fool some of the people some of the time, fool some of the people all of the time, even fool all of the people some of the time, but Labour supporters must be the only group who can all be fooled all of the time!

  • 8.
  • At 05:14 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • wrote:

Great speeches from Blair and Brown but why oh why is the term Britain used instead of UK (incidentally UK is much used by John Reid). The use of the term 'Britain' leaves out Northern Ireland and insults a population of over 1 million- many of them voters in the next election. But then NI voters cannot join the British Labour party so maybe that explains it?

I didn't think it was stylish, it was an unwise dig.

The headlines will tell that story but it's good to see the Anyone But Gordon campaign finally having the guts to go public.

  • 10.
  • At 05:21 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

I sensed considerable discomfort on Gordon Brown's face as his listened to a leader speaking with a style, humour and connectivity that is presently, and may always be, beyond him.

  • 11.
  • At 05:29 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Tim Auger wrote:

Forget the flip comments of BBC journalists - read the speech. It was thoughtful, well crafted and brilliantlly presented. Almost (dare I say) moving at times. No one seems to have commented on his implicit admission that Iraq was a mistake - better to make a decision than to make no decision. It is time for TB to go - but after he's gone Labour Party will look back on him as the stuff of legend.


  • 12.
  • At 05:31 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • malcolm dunn wrote:

Tony Blair, a charimatic man who is also deeply dishonest.Probably the most corrupt PM of the modern era.

  • 13.
  • At 05:33 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Gerry O'Neill wrote:

Funny how things change. First the Conservatives were the pragmatic party whilst Labour was mired in ideology. Then the Conservatives became ideological about some things at least. Labour became New Labour and Blair reveals his pragmatism at his last conference. Cameron appears to be somewhat of a pragmatist but it is early days yet whilst Ming has yet to make his mark on the Liberal Democrats.

As Karl Marx once said: "all that is solid melts into air".

Strange days indeed.

  • 14.
  • At 05:34 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Graham wrote:

Goodbye to a man who genuinely does not seem to know the difference between truth and lies, between fact and spin. We are better off without his dangerous mix of medacity, slick presentation and desire to enter the history books.

  • 15.
  • At 05:34 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • John Brewer wrote:

This speech IS his revenge on GB. By reminding everyone that despite everything he is still one fantastic orator and Gordon, quite frankly, isn’t. What could be sweeter?

  • 16.
  • At 05:38 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

Yes, a great speech. Blair's speaking ability can not be faulted. He is one of the great public speakers. Sadly the content is more likely to bag him an award for fiction.

Foreign policy not responsible for terrorism? What? Not even a little bit, perhaps? Iraq? Yes, lots of competence on display there all round.

Schools? Hospitals? Yes, great job there. How will ID cards stop identity fraud and reduce illegal immigration exactly? Erm, they won't, but they'll cost a lot.

And let's not forget the damage all the spin and sleaze has done to how we all feel about politics and politicians these days.

Tony Blair is a great actor. I agree. It's a shame he's never made a decent prime minister.

  • 17.
  • At 05:43 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Andrew W wrote:

Mark E wrote "Tony Blair is the best prime minister that we have had this century."

Not difficult as Tony Blair is the ONLY Prime Minister we have had this century!

  • 18.
  • At 05:44 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Jake Long wrote:

I feel rather strange at the moment.

Deep down I know that changing the Prime Minister will make no difference whatsoever as it has never done in the past.

Both Labour and Conservative prime ministers throughout my lifetime have always introduced more draconian laws and attempted to turn this country closer and closer towards a dictatorship.

Having said this, I cannot wait to see Blair go. The man represents everything that I despise and while I do not think that a change will make any difference at all, it is always nice to see the demise of a control freak, even if he is just to be simply replace by another one.

  • 19.
  • At 05:47 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Stephen Shephard wrote:

Nick - a question someone should ask.

I've checked the full text of Tony Blair's speech to make sure he did say this, and here is the quote:

"That's why it is right that this is my last Conference as Leader."

So here's the question - what about the spring conference in Glasgow next February?

  • 20.
  • At 05:47 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Dharmesh Bhardwaj wrote:

I was not a big fan of Tony Blair and used to like Brown much more. But in last couple of weeks, it has been proved that Tony Blair really worked hard for UK and Brown is nothing, but hungry for power.

  • 21.
  • At 05:49 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Oli wrote:

Great speech, by a great Prime minister.

I for one will be sorry to see him leave, for all his downsides he's charismatic, intelligent and has been a brilliant ambassador for Britain.

Somehow I can't see David Cameron or Gordon Brown being able to match him...

  • 22.
  • At 05:50 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

Do we remember:
"Tough on crime tough on the causes of crime" - when did you last see a copper?
"Education x3" - 1 in 5 kids can't read, write or count and the A levels are a farce
"24 hrs to save the NHS" - now it's being privatised more than Maggie would ever have dreampt and despite billions it's still a joke
Trident saved - by ex CND supporter Blair
Airways, railways all privatised
Pensioners raided every year to the tune of £5bn and we now are told to save more!
"Labour will be whiter than white" - more sleaze than the Tories!
What else can we reminisce about?
2 wars - our brave service people sacrificing their health and lives in unwinnable conflicts.
Political correctness, red tape, urban decay, no go areas in city centres, gun crime out of control.
So let's have some balance - minimum wage good, independence for the Bank of England - good, got rid of Mandy, Blunkett, Byers, Robinson good...erm, that's it.

So we say goodbye to the vacuous, image conscious, hypocritical empty rhetoric and spinning of Blair and are led to believe things will only continue getting better under someone who has no mandate to rule in England, Wales or N Ireland, who has pushed billions north of the border at the expense of the English and who has stayed silent about Iraq and Afghanistan just when Blair needed him most. God Bless Great Britain!

  • 23.
  • At 05:51 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • changetowin wrote:

"Tony Blair is the best prime minister that we have had this century."

Typical New Labour spin! He is the only Prime Minister we've had this century!

He's on his way out and Gordon is being forced on an unwilling country.

Soon we must be given the chance to elect our next Prime Minister. His name will be David Cameron and he will offer a new start to our country.

One thing is clear from the published comments so far.Many, many Tory supporters listened to the P.M.'s final speech to his Party and were really frightened.

Tony Blair told it as it is, not as the Tory supporters want you to believe. 9/11 happened before either Afghanistan or Iraq. Terrorism is not a product of either. They don't help but it would have continued whether or not those campaigns had ever been entered into.

As for his other achievements, I am an OAP and there is no doubt that as a group we are much better off than under the Tory administration of Mrs. Thatcher.

Tony Blair is a consummate speaker but that is no crime and he gave us a picture of the world today and all the challenges this country will be facing that I haven't heard so succintly voiced before.

We will wait for the Cameron fellow to follow and compare policies. T'will be interesting methinks.

  • 25.
  • At 05:52 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Aaron wrote:

Sheila - Britain is not considered to be shorthand for GB, it's considered shorthand for UK. So there you are.

Andrew W - I think that was Mark's joke :)

  • 26.
  • At 06:02 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Ciaran F wrote:

I appreciate that it is in the public interest to draw attention to any debate raging over the next prime minister of this country but I think that the way the media has allowed the Blair/Brown saga to absolutely dominate the agenda is frankly shameful. Any government party conference will have its dominating stories but I feel that all our news outlets, particularly the BBC, ITN and Sky (as the 'impartial' television news providers) have failed in their duty to promote democracy. This conference should, as well as being a forum to discuss the leadership, have been a real chance for the country to listen to the argument for hugely important, and potentially nation defining policies like ID Cards, Trident nuclear deterrent and the future of the NHS (to name a few). Although these issues have been debated here on the ground, the coverage for the electorate at large has been so slim as to be non existsent. The news agenda in the country needs to be examined as a matter of urgency to move away from this embarassing tabloid culture that has developed. Nick, you have a huge responsibility on your shoulders and I hope you rise to the challenge.

  • 27.
  • At 06:03 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

Well you would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by that. I'm no Blair fan having been punished for working in the public service (sic) by his target obsessed culture, but you have to say that was some speech.

Heck I nearly believed him for a minute or two, and clearly he believes himself.

I'm afraid Gordon is going to appear very brown or is that beige in comparison.

  • 28.
  • At 06:09 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

I was watching the conference on bbc parliament on the net and it was really interesting to watch that conference of Blair before he became PM (the one with the awful turquoise background) and then to watch todays speach- it did make me feel very nostalgic and if you showed somebody just these two speeches you would think Blair has been the best PM ever- Conclusion- its just that bit in between thats the problem!!

Suggestion for Brown- Make a farewell speech now and you will have a great record!!!

  • 29.
  • At 06:15 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Russell Long wrote:

I found the whole experience nauseating. The fawning sycophants, the weeping, the tawdry attempts at togetherness.

What I don't get is where all these people come from. I mean, it's a weekday, isn't it? Don't any of these tens of thousands of people have jobs? Oh, I forgot, of course they haven't - they work for the unions or the government. Why would they be expected to turn up for work?

  • 30.
  • At 06:17 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • P Patel wrote:

Tony Blaire is the most arrogant, conniving and deceptive leader this country has ever elected. The war in Iraq will be on for many years to come and who took us to this war? Has he mentioned about the civilian casualties? The financial burden on this government will be enormous.

  • 31.
  • At 06:18 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Robin wrote:

Blair just killed Brown with Kindness.

He made him look utterly pathetic - he gave his party a gold-plated example of exactly what Brown is just not capable of.

Nick - when your immediate reaction was that he had spoken in a way that lets the Labour party move on I immediately agreed - but now having had a chance to reflect it does the opposite. In fact it means that they will now move forward ruefully and dejectedly with many of them only committed to the past (and all it's 'achievements') as represented by Blair - and as they unable to move forward with him just will not feel they are moving forward.

And to make his own party really cry at the tragedy they have caused by booting him out he was even prepared to say that Iraq was a mistake (surely this is the big news NICK !!!!) .

He wasn't prepared to say this when it could have saved him..

But he was prepared to break all the rules and say it when it could really hurt Brown…

A fantastic performance by an excellent actor and orator but an average P.M.

  • 32.
  • At 06:21 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Malcolm wrote:

It was a good speech, (given the circumstances) well delivered. But what else would we expect? Talk is what Blair is very good at - Hollywood could well beckon - but we have learnt the hard way that it is all just that - talk. He is already re-writing the history of his time in office, but he forgets that there are others who will write history too, and almost certainly with more honesty and objectivity. No doubt his publisher has already signed a deal for his memoirs, and I wonder if his or the odious Mr Campbell's will get to the shelves first. Most people have at last seen through the play acting of Tony Blair, the emotional croak in the voice, the pained look on the face, the pause for effect. The amazing thing is that that there are some who still haven't. He has been dishonest from the start, but the charm on which he relied for so long has turned to rust. Whoever takes over the helm as PM, in this government and the next, will have a long uphill struggle to regain the trust of the electorate after the havoc wreaked under and by Tony Blair.

14, Graham said "Goodbye to a man who genuinely does not seem to know the difference between truth and lies, between fact and spin. We are better off without his dangerous mix of medacity, slick presentation and desire to enter the history books."

I totally I agree with Graham. I had been thinking of changing my name to DeludedInChelsea, until I saw this.

  • 34.
  • At 06:21 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Yeliu Chuzai wrote:

Great piece of theatre again from Blair.
For those who think it had "content", I suggest you lie down. That feeling will soon pass.
As I said yesterday, it's just ephemera - truly tomorrow's (or day after tomorrow's) fish 'n chip wrapping.
Fascinating to see the serried ranks of Labour activists breaking into spontaneous (?) applause with every Blair distortion of the truth (all those things that they've been opposing these past five years).
Just shows that most party political activists are flawed romantics, soft touches for anyone who can press the right buttons.

My abiding memory of that speech will be the way someone arranged to have Blair bathed in a warm, rosey light, but when the camera switched to Gordy, he was bathed in a ghastly greenish hue which made him look like Dracula. Near the end of the speech, they did change Gordy's lighting. Maybe the "ever vigilant" little pointy nose of Dougie Alexander at work back stage ?

Oh! and Maggie Becket kept nodding off - heard it all before I suppose.

  • 35.
  • At 06:34 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • ken from Gloucester wrote:

Speaking as a police officer who served his country for 31 years and retired with honour,ihave never liked the man.

I spotted him as a flim flam man right from the start. You know what I mean " The cheque is in the post" old boy.They never stop bouncing.

He will be gone soon I hope.

  • 36.
  • At 06:41 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Alastair Pocock wrote:

As a longtime Conservative activist I have worked hard over the past 9 years to ensure that Tony Blair's tenure on the Premiership of this country was kept to as short a time as possible. HOWEVER, the speech he made in Manchester today was well crafted and brilliantly delivered. How I pray that Gordon Brown leads his party into the next election as he is the best gift that me and fellow Conservatives could wish for!

  • 37.
  • At 06:49 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Ben wrote:


I'm worried you've taken leave of your normally astute political senses and have been washed away on a wave of Blairite euphoria!

Should we be surprised that Blair's final conference performance was so consummate? Should we be surpised that Brown's speech looked somewhat pedestrian in comparison? What does this tell us about the future of the Labour Party, and indeed British Politics?

We've always known that Blair is the master of political presentation, and one of the best speakers in modern politics. It's why he has been so successful and why people love him - but also why they distrust him, as a man of style and not substance. Brown is the antithesis - his lack of panache is why Blair was able to eclipse him in the wake of John Smith's death in the first place. Instead, he stnads as the thinker and doer - hoping to offer an appealing change to those bored of spin.

For all the speculation about the leadership, and today's love-in the fact remains that Brown sits far closer to the heart of the Labour party than Blair and his followers - any idea that a Blairite challenger stands a chance is fantasy - there is no constituency within the party to support such a challenge.

For all of these reasons there is very little to be gleaned from this week's events. Surely the real litmus test should come next week when we see how David Cameron performs - we all know how Blair and Brown measure up - and if he can put either or both his rivals in the shade.


  • 38.
  • At 06:58 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Anne Harrison wrote:

Will this posturing popinjay never go?

  • 39.
  • At 07:03 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Barrie WILSON wrote:

An expat in Brussels, I've worked for many years in the field of aid (education) to developing countries. I was also involved in European employment/training before and during the Thatcher years. Thatcher reduced development aid to a miserable level; Blair in 1997 elevated it to a Ministry and gave a cabinet post to the Development minister. Gordon Brown has already pushed the other countries in the direction of debt cancellation/improved aid. As an expat I can't vote, but I do it symbolically each time - for New Labour, and for humanity.

  • 40.
  • At 07:06 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • john gale wrote:

despite the speech today tony blair remains the worst prime minister ever in the hisyory of our country.

  • 41.
  • At 07:24 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Scott wrote:

It's a bit disappointing that you do a set-piece on radio, tv, online et. al -- across all the BBC channels -- and don't really give any additional commentary of substance beyond your initial impressions.

Regretably being a news junkie, and with the BBC being so ubiquitous its hard to avoid your (same) commentary during rolling bulletins on tv, radio and on line.

Could you 'change it up' a bit more often Nick, to borrow from the American vernacular, and file a few different reports?

  • 42.
  • At 07:28 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • James Manning wrote:

Well done Mark E for saying Tony Blair is the best prime minister we have had this century.

Could i add though that he is the ONLY prime minister we have had this century...

  • 43.
  • At 07:43 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • cupboardy wrote:

The Labour party are saying goodbye to their Thatcher. There's a similarity in terms of their impact on the country and party with both being Premier for about a decade.

Is Gordon their next John Major? - In power for one and a bit terms (with a much reduced majority?) and purveyors of their party's demise.

I can’t help feeling that in a few years we will be wishing that he was back. He's clearly one of the most talented all-round politians of his day.

Maybe we will vote Cherie in as PM just to get Tony back – just like the Americans could well do with the Clintons.

Or more likely he will tell us to stick it by going for the directorships, memoirs etc to try and keep up with the Berlusconis.

  • 44.
  • At 08:09 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

It was a wonderful speech, Blair is one of the best public speakers I have ever seen, fair brings a tear to the eye. The content however was a little odd.

Recent reports indicate that the Iraq of today is more brutal than under the Saddam regime, torture and mistreatment is rampant on all sides. Also there never has been any reliable evidence of the presence of terrorists in Iraq during the Saddam regime. It is also not clear how we, meaning our soldiers, will get out of either Iraq or Afghanistan.

The very idea that a man who is widely held as complicit in the death of over one thousand Lebanese citizens can now be a force for good in the ME leaves me cold. The PM is seen as an extension of the US administration by both sides in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, it seems odd that he feels he can now act as peacemaker.

On the home front, nobody has ever explained how a billion pound ID system will help with imigration, identity theft or any other crime. The US has had identity cards for years and identity theft remains a major cause of concern there. Even more confusing is the idea that an identity card that no one is required to carry will assist in preventing illegal immigration. Even if I could believe that any government has a chance of successfully introducing a computer system of this magnitude, I can't see how it will meet the design requirements as laid out by the lord our Blair.

Blair makes a nice speech, as do many of his comrades, but all it ever means is a brief increase in global warming (hot air). At least it was more emotive than the offering from Mssr Brown - doesn't look good for the boy, does it.

  • 45.
  • At 08:14 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • S Werner wrote:

I've always been a partial fan of his. It's not that I agree with everything he says, it's more that I just can't help myself falling for his charisma. Iraq will always come back to haunt him over the years, but then, at the time, weren't we all thinking if Saddam has nuclear weapons he needs to be ousted?

I have been pointed to a most intriguing post about Gordon Brown, our future PM incarnate here

  • 46.
  • At 08:14 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Charlie Peters wrote:

Tim is spot on - the tories are uneasy about the last 48 hours. Blair made a moving, charismatic, emotional speech that brought the Labour Party together - at least for a little while.
TB should go next year - but never the less it will be a shame to see him leave No 10.
He hasn't been perfect, but - for the most part - has been a superb leader for the country.
His speech was the make or break point for the Labour Party - "United we stand, Divided we fall" - and has given New Labour a better chance of fighting the happy, clappy chappy that is Cameron the Clown!
Peter wrote -
"Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime - when did you last see a copper?"
Crime is down and there are far more police than in the 80's and 90's.
"Education x 3 - one in five kids can't read, write or count and A- Levels are a farce."
One in five - does that include toddlers and babies then? Please check your figures first. I think you will find those at the end of education that have got sufficent reading skills are in the very late 90%'s. I also find it offensive when A-levels and GCSE's are mocked - we do well and it must be getting to easy, we don't do as well and we are not trying hard enough, (in the context of students).
The NHS has more nurses and doctors than ever before and is on target to treble the amount of money pumped in to our under - rated and under - valued NHS than the tories ever bothered to invest. Money before the people, that's the tory way!
Airways and railways - I can understand your point. Ever heard of the free market - the symbol of a true blue tory? If the Conservatives hadn't sold off the railways at a knock down price when they knew thay were to lose the election, then maybe transport would have been in superb condition.
Pensioners being ripped off. Again, I can see where you are coming from - it is one of the greatest challenges that Britain faces in the coming future. Furthermore, Labour introduced relief on fuel tax for pensioners in the winter, saving pensioners vast amounts if money and saving lives, unlike the cash crazy tories, $$ signs flashing and so let pensioners struggle on and even die during the winter months.
Labour whiter than white? - good point, but thrashing all the bad blood out in to the public domain could be a blessing in disguise for the Labour Party....
2 wars - again, another good comment. They hurt Blair, but if the war had been handled properly during the arftermath by politicians, especially in Iraq, things could have been very different. Let's not take anything away by the courage, magnificence and ability of our troops who have done a fantastic job considering the circumstances.
political correctness I can again understand, but in its rational form without the PC extremist brigade helps our multi - cultural nation prosper in unity and harmony - if it is used correctly. I don't see how being PC is a government policy mind you.
Prescott.... a good politician who did some very stupid things.
Nice of you to add in independance for the Bank of England - remember the ways the tories destroyed and maimed many peoples finances on that infamous day.
Minimun wage - thank goodness.
Lowest employment since the 70's.
More people in work than ever before.
Low inflation.
Longest span of economic growth in this and last century.
And a superb Prime Minister, who achieved all this and much more, and, if not now then later in the future, will be sorely missed, who - in my opinion - made the speech of his career today, one that may turn the fortunes on the tories. Watch the polls, I think the tories are just starting to crack....

Tony Blair is an excellent Prime Minister and his only mistake was announcing that he would not be the leader at the next election. I cried with joy when we won in ’97! The trade union leaders don’t understand how much he has done for them – All they want to do is moan! Look how futile their strike action with the NHS is! They need to work with their representation not against it all the time! My mother was encouraged from single mum to career lady through Tony’s policies. Better nurses’ wages, Better Schools and the minimum wage. Gordon Brown has a ‘John Major Dullness’ about him. We need something much better than that – We need another Tony Blair.

Darren Pike

PS – Excellent Cherrie – Gordon One Liner!

  • 48.
  • At 10:00 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Anne Harrison wrote:

Will this posturing popinjay never go?

  • 49.
  • At 10:12 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • david williams wrote:

the prime minister is without
any doubt the most competent this
country has had.
he has seen them all off!!!
the bbc,tories,unions,country side
hunters,fuel lobby clowns,today radio show,farmers,loony left,five live,
and to think they called him
thank you prime of prime ministers

  • 50.
  • At 10:44 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Dave Williams wrote:

I found the link to the Liberal Democrats clip from your first poster helpful. It shows that the Lib Dems are even more negative, in the habit of personal abuse and patronising to the voters than either of the other main voters. They will not be getting my vote.

  • 51.
  • At 10:45 PM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • Dave Williams wrote:

Mark E, I hope Tony Blair is the best Prime Minister we have had this century -he is the only one we have had this century. But how does he compare to Churchill, Thatcher, Atlee in the last century?

  • 52.
  • At 12:22 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • lorne Irving wrote:

Good Bye

  • 53.
  • At 12:28 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Tim Wilkinson wrote:

I wish (and Gordon should too) that the Met would hurry up and arrest Blair. They'll need the lawyers to do some decent research to find a charge which doesn't need Lord 'U-turn' Goldsmith's permission to prosecute - common-law bribery perhaps?

Brown made a fatal error of saying he 'would have done the same' re Iraq (of course he b***dy wouldn't!) - instead of finessing the question. Rescuing Blair from an election LOSS was one thing - but he didn't need to throw away the (minor) moral advantage he had gained by refusing to endorse the invasion publicly (except by, er, voting for it).

A corruption charge now seems the only way Blair's true colours are going to be demonstrated vividly without tarnishing Brown's image too. That is, assuming no-one bothers to resume the abandoned David Kelly inquest - and investigate how a death certificate was improperly issued and presented to the inquiry run by Lord 'I wanted to avoid headlines' Hutton.

Got lost Blair, and take your corrupt coterie with you. Let someone who has more about him than spin and manipulation raise the standard a bit and show Cameron's vacuous posturing for what it is.

And Brown - stop trying to smile when you know, and most of us still remember however dimly, that politics is SERIOUS. If only the Lib Dems would get organised and Ming would do something a bit more impressive than trimming his eyebrows.

  • 54.
  • At 12:43 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Mark Woods wrote:

Quite simply put Blair has done more for the average man in the street than any PM since the war.
Drawing a comparison between him a Thatcher is a disgrace.
The Conservatives haven't even laid the foundation stone-how true.

  • 55.
  • At 12:46 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Harry wrote:

A good speech - maybe even a great one. A good leader, maybe even a great one. A stewardship of party and country that wasn't perfect, yes. Someone remind me of a perfect one.

As PM he never shirked the big decisions. Some I didn't agree with, but as a mere observer I wouldn't have to stand or fall by failing to make the decisons he took and supporting the people he had to support. I don't think he could have responsibly done anything else, in his position.

I've sat in on classes at school and can't believe the things they have that I never saw. I've been to hospital, had two sets of x-rays both assessed immediately and been patched up and sent on my way within an hour. None of these things ever happened before. The fabrication that things haven't changed for the better at all is just a fabrication. My interest rates have never been so low, my mortgage payments never so low, my access to media never so high.

On balance I've been quite happy over the last ten years, without particularly being one of the winners.

Stop whining and get real. If there's one thing that worries me it's that so many seem keen that the vacuous Cameron may be next on the list of PMs. Not just him, but the empty heads behind him. If you want to worry, worry about that.

  • 56.
  • At 01:07 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • John wrote:

It was a good speech, like some of those before we first elected him pm.

Oratory may be easier if unconstrained by facts and unconcerned about promises or records being scrutinised critically.

As others have suggested, it was intended to rub GB's nose in the fact GB isn't considered to be a "fully paid up member of the human race" - did you see his face.

The only time I have seen GB launch into a speech with gusto was when he'd found a way to move the goalposts on the definition of the economic cycle. I predict we will see GB try to up the empty rhetoric ante at his next opportunity, and that it will be painful to watch.

  • 57.
  • At 01:21 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • JP wrote:

I am not even from this country and I can see from a mile away that Tony Blair is the best prime minister in world politics today, never mind Britain or the UK. Funny how a prophet is never admired in his own country and how easy it is to comment from the sideline.

Good luck with your new prime minister. I hope he can stand up and make tough decisions when it counts. With perfect 20:20 hindsight the Iraq decision now seems dubious, but what about the next...

  • 58.
  • At 05:54 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Rich wrote:

And well done to Mr Manning for his amazing spot of the irony in Mark E's post. Oh wait a second...

  • 59.
  • At 05:59 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Mike Turner wrote:

At 05:43 PM on 26 Sep 2006, Andrew W wrote:

Mark E wrote "Tony Blair is the best prime minister that we have had this century."

Not difficult as Tony Blair is the ONLY Prime Minister we have had this century!


So in that case he is also the worst(!)

I believe that, over time, Tony Blair's legacy will be viewed less favourably (whatever people's views are now).

At the moment there is his party's (and his own!) very effective spin to present the government's performance positively. But in future years the smoke and mirrors dept for this era won't be there and shortcomings will be laid bare.

He has been a great entertainer but I am not so sure about solid achievement. He has tried hard,though.

  • 60.
  • At 07:53 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • James Tooke wrote:

Not very good at this are you Nick?

  • 61.
  • At 08:47 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • John wrote:

The legacy of PM Tony Blair is the carbuncle at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. If the SNP take control of Scotland in May 2007 they will be obliged to thank Tony Blair for giving them the launch pad.

The BBC will of course want Brown to take over so that they can keep the same letter-headed paper:

Brown Broadcasting Corporation

  • 62.
  • At 09:16 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Mr J Stubbs wrote:

Nick's comments here aren't worth reading really.

Tony Blair showed yesterday, and indeed throughout his premiership, that he is one of the finest PMs of our time.

I for one will miss him, but am looking forward to the future with Labour.

  • 63.
  • At 09:22 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Scott Jackson wrote:

When did I last see a copper? Last night at the local police forum and this morning while I was taking the kids to school.

Meanwhile Tony Blair has just proved what most of us already know, he's the only politician in this country capable of capturing the public mood and making the tough choices needed at the top. Ming Campbell in number 10, Cameron as PM? You're havin' a larf..

  • 64.
  • At 09:29 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • smiffy wrote:

Tony Blair is the best actor that we have had this century.

  • 65.
  • At 09:35 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Willie Grieve wrote:

Disliking what Blair has done is one thing, but to dismiss him as being without substance is deluded. He has been exceptionally courageous in decision-making, and as a consequence has had to endure more fire-storms of political controversy than any other PM in my experience, with the possible exception of Thatcher. To dismiss him as flim-flam is, frankly, swivel-eyed.

And Nick, what about raising your game? A little less cynicism & gossip, and a little more to do with policy & the huge issues facing us, please -

  • 66.
  • At 10:03 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Mark E wrote:

Aaron (post 25) - I am glad someone understood that my comment was a joke ;-)

But I do think that the main reason Tony Blair is standing down so early into the term is that he doubts Gordon Brown will be as good as he was and that will make him look better.

Most people are expecting GB to the Major of New Labour - taking on the role of Captain unaware that the ship is already sinking.

The Fraudulent Gurus are grateful to Tony Blair and all of his support. It has been an incredibly successful run for him.

We have enjoyed attending the Labour Party Conference, as we have been sharing the ancient wisdom of Fraudulism with many interested delegates.

  • 68.
  • At 03:45 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Stephen E wrote:

The bigger the lie, the greater the number of people who seem to swallow it. Quite frankly, T Blair will be remembered for two things - beating the Conservatives who were at their lowest ebb, and more importantly, telling huge great whoppers. I couldn't care less how good he is at mispronouncing words, or how he can muster every emotion under the sun in 45 seconds. In my view he is self-deluded and dangerous. I wouldn't be surprised if he does a volte face and hangs on until the next election, fully convinced that that this is what he said he would do all along.

Perhaps more worryingly, is that lots of people would probably believe him!!

Tony Blair,Greatest,sincerest and most charismatic Prime Minister ever, brilliant statesman, blessed with the power of forsight, equal to and respected by each and every other world leader, a brilliant orator who will be sadly missed at PM question time (even Nick Robinson regrets his part in Tony's Downfall)
Tony Blair, will go down in history as the last English Labour Prime Minister who beleived in giving the working man the opportunity to change their own destiny, but alas, true to form and with their canny ability to forget life before Tony, have turned and killed the Goose that was laying them golden eggs.
So what does the future hold for us now, perhaps a step closer to Scottish rule taken there by Brown, Cameron or Ming Campbell(I have thrown the last name in as a joke)
Perhaps Cameron will fool enough voters into given him the PM job, he will definately get the vote of Hoodies and Druggies, thats if they live long enough to vote.

For the first time in British politics the working class man has been led by a Public school educated Prime Minister whose driving force in life was to create equality, democracy, justice at home and worldwide for the under privileged.

I am sure Deep down even his opponents secretly admired him and will miss the challenge of trying to outwit him, only to fail every time.

The working classes have been hoodwinked by the Tories, the GB followers and the Trade Unions into bringing Tony Blair's leadership to an end for their own ends, the Tories will if elected reinstate Foxhunting and the Unions naively believe they can run the country and represent the views of the majority, economic failure faces us all in either case.

  • 71.
  • At 03:08 PM on 29 Sep 2006,
  • martin carnaffin wrote:

To suggest T.B. is dishonest is blatant stupidity. He obviously believes entirely in the correctness of his actions.
We all clamour for 'conviction politicians' then whine when we don't agree with them.
The Labour party and the goverment are both democratic institutions, so it's not TB's fault that no one else had the bottle to challenge him in either.
My advice to T.B.'s critics is to stop bleating like cowards, put your own ideas forward and give some committment to your cause (but don't be suprised when you find out your a complete anachronism).

  • 72.
  • At 06:43 PM on 29 Sep 2006,
  • David Roberts wrote:

If TB is remembered for one thing it should be the demise of the labour party, as it was originally intended - the champion of the working man! Whether you believe this to be a good thing or not probably depends on what side of the political divide you sit on, but in order to get elected Labour was converted from their traditional debating ground to a centre right party (aka as the republicans vs the democrats- how ironic!!!)

I am a true blue voter, and will for ideological reasons never vote labour, but I am intelligent enough to see that some (emphasis on the some) of New Labours Policies are perfectly sensible. I agree wholeheartedly that Cameron has a lot to prove if he wishes to overturn Labour at the next election, but then again it is not people like me he has to persuade.

The one thing that new labour apologists are very happy to forget about is the fact that without the reforms/hard graft put in by Thatcher none of new labour's social policies would ever have seen the light of day. Do you honestly think that the unions would have let him go down this road if Scargill was still in his pomp! Brown is without doubt a clever man and a reasonable economist, but he inherited a strong economy and was able to tax it to kingdom come in order to pay for his excesses.....the waste of cash on the NHS and civil service managment is his ERM!

One parting shot....if the example of Thatcher and Blair are taken for one thing, it is the fact that we should adopt one facet of US politics...a maximum two term prime ministership....then we wouldnt be in this pickle in the first place!

There seems to be widespread hatred for our present Prime Minister (well, present PM at the time of writing, 23.30 28 Sep). If so many of you have this NEED to hate, why don't you look around the world at some of the REALLY nasty people and ideologies in this world who HATE you? Then it'll be nicely reciprocal. They're watching you anyway.

Personally I admire Tony Blair, though I have never voted Labour, and certainly won't now that they're terminating prematurely, foolishly and selfishly his tenure in office.

People should understand and recognize that winning elections and leadership itself MUST include the ability to reach people right across the electorate. Must include the ability which Blair has in spades, to communicate to all sorts of voters and international audiences.

It was evident on Nick's tv report immediately following the PM's speech that he was impressed and recognized the value and quality of Blair's second-to-none communication skills. Such journalists are wordsmiths and are used to political speakers. Yet they have not reacted in such an instinctively dismissive way to the PM's speech as so many commentators here.

Do you remember the names of some of the recent Tory leaders, from the grey-man on? Thought not? And why? No presentation skills, no ability to express a range of emotions and policies in all their varying shades and complexities.

Referring to this comment, or part of, from another comment post:

"And to make his own party really cry at the tragedy they have caused by booting him out he was even prepared to say that Iraq was a mistake (surely this is the big news NICK !!!!) .

He wasn't prepared to say this when it could have saved him."

Astute spotting that the PM raised the thought that "people will sometimes forgive you mistakes...but they won't forgive not deciding". did he mean Iraq? Well, not necessarily, but possibly. Political, diplomatic, fork-tongued, you choose. This is where Blair is so clever. I want that kind of clever guy on MY side.

Labour have lost him and so, their fourth general election victory. I would put money on it.

  • 74.
  • At 11:23 AM on 01 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew Milner wrote:

#6 Tony Blair is the only Prime Minister Britain has had this century. We're in the 21st century in case you haven't noticed.

  • 75.
  • At 10:56 AM on 02 Oct 2006,
  • Robert wrote:

Nick dear boy, do be ever so carefull that you are not sucked into a shadow puppet show. Do you not get the feeling that everything is stage managed at such events. Even the media's response. Your comment, "even i'm getting nostalgic", had me worried.

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