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Six points

Nick Robinson | 13:10 UK time, Tuesday, 27 February 2007

What did we learn from Tony Blair's news conference today? More than you might think.

1. He IS considering standing down as an MP after he stops being PM. "I've taken no decision" on this he said.

2. He is not planning to live in New York after leaving Number 10.

3. The Cabinet have not been consulted about whether Britain should site parts of the US missile defence system.

4. Unlike Alan Johnson he is not ready to attack Tory ideas to support marriage choosing instead to say it's a legitimate debate while insisting it's a distraction from the "real issue" of targeting help on problem families.

5. The government is planning to introduce what he calls a "something for something bargain" in the benefits system and provision of council housing. This begs the question - if you deny problem families benefit or housing, what then happens to them?

6. He warned the Labour Party to be "very careful" about attacking the private equity industry.


  • 1.
  • At 04:17 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

For someone who is expected to leave office at any moment, Tony Blair still seems to get press like he's going to be around for awhile while his heir apparant is all but invisible. Why? Is Tony Blair the only one in British politics who has something interesting to say?

I can hardly imagine Blair sitting in Parliament shouting at Question Time with the others. It's rare for an elder statesman and past head of state to return to a lower position. So he will not live in New York City. That leaves about a few zillion other places in America for him to reside. If he doesn't have a home of his own there, he'll surely have standing invitations as a guest in many places. America will always be his home away from home. I'd assume he will leave issues like the US missile defense system to his successors. The debate will be long and probably heated, no reason for him to be involved now. It seems to me one difference between new Labour and old Labour is that new Labor has made its peace with capitalism while old Labor is still stuck in a socialist mentality. This is one big reason that Britain's economy has done relatively well in recent years compared to all of the other major economies in Europe. Will this continue after he leaves? That remains to be seen but I wouldn't count on it. There are a lot of people in Britain who want to be in the same death spiral as France, Germany, Italy, and the rest.

  • 2.
  • At 06:10 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • Bryan Cooper wrote:

I was a labour man once ,and proud of it, but as things are now, with taxation , road pricing council tax ,on a up ,and up , spiral never ending , and what i cant except is the deceit that goes with everything, always the back door for everything, so to sum it all up, back door tony , or brown ,all ta-rd with the same brush never ever ,will i vote labour again,

  • 3.
  • At 06:28 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • EdC wrote:

The question really is: why are we still listening to what he says?

He can't very well start proposing major welfare reforms now, when he's done nothing constructive in the last ten years on the issue.

What we really need to know is what Brown thinks so we can make a judgement on the next three years.

  • 4.
  • At 07:08 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • Hyder Ali Pirwany wrote:

Will Mr Blair become a "Statesman" now to solve every foreign problem?

  • 5.
  • At 07:35 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • John Galpin wrote:

Maybe its just that its a miserable rainy day but I just feel that

1 I just don't care what Blair thinks or does, now or in the future, he just doesn't matter any more

2 I don't care what Clarke & Milburn think, they are unlikely to make any real headway unless one of them at least has a go at the leadership and even then I wonder.

3 I haven't a clue what Brown thinks but am suspicious that either he doesn't know or realises that so much money has been borrowed and wasted already that he doesn't really have a prayer of funding anything substantially new.

4 And the opposition......?

What chance a hung parliament? And I am talking capital punishment here.

Apparently you also learned that Labour are 'winning the arguments in Scotland' and now have to focus on winning the election.

Mr Bliar will be even more resolute then when he reads the ICM/Scotsman poll which has the SNP extending its unprecedented lead over Labour to 5% in the constituency vote.

Don't worry though, Lord George Foulkes will tour the studios shouting "don't panic, don't panic" in a Cpl Jones fashion. Apparently Labour doesn't want to peak too early. Have a laugh.

  • 7.
  • At 10:40 PM on 27 Feb 2007,
  • Steven Morris wrote:

Unless he's planning to go to The Hague and give himself up, I could not be less interested in where Blair heads to when he finally stands down.

  • 8.
  • At 09:54 AM on 28 Feb 2007,
  • Carlos Cortiglia wrote:

The Labour Party looks like somebody who is London for the first time walking around with an AtoZ. Shall I go left or shall I go right? Instead of the government being on top of the issues, the issues are on top of the goverment and so it becomes government by reaction instead of government by action and all they can come up with is unworkable ideas, spin and more and higher taxes. The first words in my mind are 'what next?'. They come up with mandatory sentences with overcrowded prisons, impossible schemes like community services for those wanting to becoming British citizens, school places awarded by lottery, tax inspectors visiting homes to decide how much they are going to charge us for council tax and the list goes on and on. As Dr Panglos in Candide of Voltaire used to say: Tout est au mieux, rien ne pourrait etre meilleur, while the country is collapsing. We talk about a better NHS while throwing away NHS staff, closing down services and depriving patients of vital medicines and treatments. We talk about curbing gun crime and we have no idea of how many people are in this country and of how drugs and guns get into this country. All they can suggest to fight gang crime is the eviction of entire families that might have little or nothing to do with gang crime. To sum up the whole situation: they have lost the plot.

  • 9.
  • At 10:17 AM on 28 Feb 2007,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

My thinking is that Prime Minister Blair should bank his winnings and step down at the next General Election, and instead of playing a part in developing Kyoto 2 would find it more productive to play a part in developing leadership skills among the underprivileged.

On the issue of the underprivileged versus private equity companies, I’d prefer seeing policies developed which encouraged a better sense of order and harmony in both. The blend of seizing work and investment opportunities would get everyone on the same page.

I remain doubtful over the missile defence system. It won’t change anything other than making the game more expensive, reinforcing winners and losers, and all the arrogance and discontent that comes with that. Again, getting all players on the same page looks better.

  • 10.
  • At 10:48 AM on 28 Feb 2007,
  • Charles wrote:

Yes, Nick, he was pretty categorical on all of those.

  • 11.
  • At 10:49 AM on 28 Feb 2007,
  • Hyder Ali Pirwany wrote:

Will Mr Blair become a world statesman now to solve world problems that he couldn't when he was in office?

  • 12.
  • At 02:01 PM on 28 Feb 2007,
  • Shaphan wrote:

Nick - I just heard you on the radio. You're mispronouncing 'contribute'. It's conTRIBute, not CONTribute. Please? (Or are you trying to get a job on Five Live?)

Also, you wrote above, "The Cabinet have not...". It would be more grammatical to write, "The Cabinet has not been ...". Thank you.

  • 13.
  • At 03:59 PM on 28 Feb 2007,
  • Alan Addison wrote:

On point 5. Doesn't your comment about what will happen to those who lose benefits show the left wing bias that BBC news reporters have been accused of recently. :-)

Anyway the answer to your question is, its their problem, they created it so let them solve it.

Sorry to go all Lynne Truss on you Nick, but point 5) *prompts* the question you pose; it doesn't *beg* it.

Are two ex ministers, keen Blairites & known non friendly forces to Gordon Brown 'Charles Clarke & Alan Milburn' doing this 2020Vision spoiling exercise, for self/party/national interest & benefit in this political life or the next?


  • 16.
  • At 08:06 AM on 01 Mar 2007,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

Alvin Toffler wrote, in The Third Wave, that Capitalism and Communism were both markets. Like narratology versus ludology in game design, I tend to think both are illusions, or perspectives, on a single underlying system. Whether products or relationships accumulate capital is irrelevant in pure market terms.

What value someone might place on a policy and whether they trust a party is a matter of policy and people, and the power, status, or wealth capital we give them is a market function. Spread capital too thin or concentrate it too much, invest in too many dysfunctional or expensive products, and the system dies.

By this logic, Nick looks as if he’s picked up on a serious philosophical problem with the approach of left and right wing views. At the bottom end, the left wing view finds it difficult to deal with those who won’t seize opportunity. At the top end, the right wing finds it difficult to deal with those who won’t create opportunity.

In many respects, this difficult problem is echoed in how we deal with punishment and rehabilitation in the prison system. I’ve discussed this with a handful of respectable Buddhist scholars and their view is that rather than investing in a system which is retribution based, a focus on development is better.

It might not be much but, in many ways, Nick’s blog is an ‘investment in loss’, in that he’s a ‘made man’ who’s giving ordinary people an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings on issues of the day. In many ways, this blog is a microcosm of the world. How bad comments are dealt with may give him a clue.

  • 17.
  • At 03:42 PM on 01 Mar 2007,
  • nigel wheatcroft wrote:

I am reminded of a story I was told some years ago about Bliar.He sat next to somebody at a diner party and she realised that after an hour or so that our beloved Prime Minister had not actually spoken to anybody around him about what he actually thought.He is still doing this ,taking other peoples ideas and using them(but usually without thinking of the consequences and usually getting it wrong).He still is churning out the same rubbish but does not realise that very few people are listening.

  • 18.
  • At 05:26 PM on 01 Mar 2007,
  • Trevor wrote:

There must be 1000's of openings for a man with the abilities and charisma of Tony Blair. I mean, people are always looking for happy faced story tellers at their toddlers parties...

  • 19.
  • At 07:34 PM on 01 Mar 2007,
  • mike walker wrote:

"if you deny problem families benefit or housing, what then happens to them"

And the answer is: people modify their behaviour . If they don't evolution teaches us they die.

So they will change. And if they don't change their behaviour, then that's their problem.
Society cannot tolerate forever people who live off others , create problems and do not intend to change.

  • 20.
  • At 04:09 PM on 12 Mar 2007,
  • jim evans wrote:


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