Too much on Blair?
Did the BBC do too much on the Blair departure story? Some of you think so. Among your complaints: it’s been reported for months that he’s about to go, so what’s new? He’s not going just yet – in fact he’s not actually going for another seven weeks. One caller even said: “Has Tony Blair died?”
Valid points. We broadcast a huge amount on this story. Right through the day we covered – exhaustively, some would say - the events, the reaction, and the analysis.
Because the end of Tony Blair’s prime ministership is an important moment in British politics and British life. It’s a moment to look at his achievements over the past ten years, at what’s gone well and what’s gone badly, and at how his leadership has changed the country.
We received an enormous amount of feedback from our audiences, some negative about aspects of what we said, some positive. But interest was exceptionally high; and the vast majority of the viewers, listeners and readers who communicated with us were enthusiastic about the seriousness with which we treated the story.
You may not have agreed with everything we said, or with the emphasis we put on one aspect of his premiership over another (why so much on Iraq and so little on Northern Ireland?). But broadly you wanted the breadth and depth of what we provided.
And why now? Why not wait till Mr Blair’s last day as prime minister? I suppose the answer is that politics is a brutal business. Once you’ve announced the date of your departure, attention moves on very quickly to the successor, in this case – unless something very surprising happens – Gordon Brown.
So to have waited till the end of June, when Tony Blair finally closes the door of Number 10 behind him, would have seemed like turning up at the party after all the other guests had left. Particularly as every other broadcaster and newspaper also chose this moment for their assessments of the Blair years.