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Damn it, missed the speech. Flipping World Chess Championship...

That was a fantastic speech, its a shame he wasnt a conservative!

Fairwell great leader. I think we will all miss you.

And just compare that speech - I rarely...err, never agree with Roy Hattersley, but that was one of the greatest speeches in British politics ever - with the guff Gordon Brown spouted yesterday: the gulf in calibre between the two is just incredible - and good for the Conservatives.

Have to say, there's going to be a bit of a post conference bounce for Labour on the strength of that speech alone.

Blair unfortunately has more talent and insight than the entire Shadow Cabinet put together.

Fortunately, Labour are so stupid they've forced him out - or he'd have ripped Cameron apart the way he did our others...

Don't know whether you caught the BBC's Perception Panel on the speech. The biggest approval spike recorded by the politically mixed audience for the speech was when he ripped into the emptiness of Cameron.

Interesting, possibly quite important for the post-Blair landscape.

I missed the speech but will catch the highlights and analysis this evening. What I would like to question is how people think Blairs departure will change the face of British politics. I am not interested in sparking a debate about who will replace Blair but more in whether people feel that Blairs going will result in a change in the style of politics (namely do people think that there will be a move away from spin) and if so how people think that we as a party could take advantage.

Haven't heard the speech but after a decade of lies and spin don't you think that the British people will see through this. For me Blair will be remembered as a charismatic but deeply dishonest man who was probably the most personally corrupt PM of the modern era. I hope he will be prosecuted for selling peerages and that he will end his days a deeply dicredited man.

Sheer laziness by William Hague let Blair off the hook in the beginning. The inability of the national leadership to get up and fight has been depressing over many years. But then after the debacle of the Major years when every Tory value was destroyed, Blair was kicking at an open door. The sheer amount of time it has taken the party to get its act together (and we are not completely there yet)has been a disgrace. Local associations and council groups have kept us going. Cameron still hasn't said anything valuable about public services and is ducking immigration-incredeibly John Reid has made it a Labour issue.

As with thg Labour Party and Maggie, too many Tories have been obsessed with Blair to think clearly about Britain's problems and challenges. Blair has had an easy time against an incompetent and irresolute Tory parliamentary party.

It was a great speech and just because our greatest opponent will be leaving the stage, we should not assunme that we will now have a clear run to the winning line. Labour are not a "busted flush" irrespective of who their new Leader might be, and they might still spring the odd surprise, like a snap election or a leader from out of the blue. Our leadership have a lot of work to do, I live in hope and expectation that they have the ability, determination and strength of character and purpose to do it.

Ferrets fighting in fringe meeting!


I did say, Malcolm, that I don't think many people will believe him. The point of my post was a wider one. The great performer has done his worst and at times his worst was devastating for us Conservatives (and the country!). The post-Blair era is around the corner. I'm hopeful it will be better for us than the Blair era.

Blair may be leaving No 10 but he will not be entering political retirement. He will do all he can to secure a fourth term for Labour and does not have to be PM to attack Cameron. I suspect he will continue to use his political skills for years to come. Our greatest opponent will still be around and freed of the shackles of office will probably be as effective as ever.

Credit where it is due, Tony Blair is the best british PM since Major.

Now come on Dave, when asked for your response to TB's savaging you can only have one of two responses: "Bye bye, enjoy your retirement" or "He has the right to be silent".

Francis Maude's reaction: "“This was a consummate performance by a consummate actor. But Tony Blair’s theatrics can’t disguise the bitter divisions of this paralysed Government which is failing to give the British people the leadership they deserve. With the NHS in crisis and crime soaring, the British people won’t share Mr Blair’s misty-eyed nostalgia. The time has now come for him to accept the applause and leave the stage.”

Leaves the stage???? Surely not?

He's got nine months left, and now that he's made this speech he can have his free run till the end of his premiership with criticism bouncing off him.

We shouldn't underestimate Blair. This speech was a dangerous and powerful electoral gambit. He will use it to maneouvre himself into position.

Can we finally master the counterattack by Labour?

Tim,my comments were aimed at Peter Coe, and the others who posted above mine.I'll be interested to hear what the press make of this speech tomorrow.

Blair will almost certainly playing the post-PM Thatcher role.

Seems a decent enough response from Maude. I watched his 94 performance again at lunchtime. He talked about socialism in them days. He's an actor, a fantastist. He gives a performance like this because he actually believes his rhetoric, bless him. It will be interesting to see how he reacts when he's thrown back into the real world.

Blair wants Labour to 'go after' DC and the Tories??

Bring it on

Just as a matter of interest, do people on here accept that, at least in some ways, Britian is a better place than in 97?

Comstock, No.

Depends how you mean Comstock. Britian may be better through having access to the internet, advanced technology ect, but with unsafe streets and the threat of terror ect, it's a bit of a toss up.

Comstock,Can't really think of anything no.If I was a civil servant or a politician then I would probably be grateful for all the extra salary. If I worked at the Guardian I would be grateful for all the extra Ads. Sadly I'm not either and as a pensions trustee I have seen how the last nine years have wrecked the chances of a comfortable retirement for millions.

Things like increased internet access have little to do with the Government though, Andrew.

I know Sean. I should have made it clear that what has got worse in this country, are the things the Govt has some control over.

Blair got 7 minutes standing ovation. The thing being the Labour Party members are giving him that ovation for a range of reasons, some giving him an ovation because he's going rather than thanking him.

Minimum wage? Won't you at least accept you were wrong about that?

Comstock - NO! In 1997 our economy was sound - it is now a mess. In 1997 we had more pension savings than the rest of Europe combined - it is now a mess. In 1997 we had adequate (just) defences - now a mess. In 1997 the civil service was independent - it is now politicised.

I didn't see the speech but why a man who has governed by lies and spin should be praised for more skillfull lying beats me! He took us to war on a lie; his actions led to the death of a civil servant - he's evil.

What Blair did do was smell the wind and saw the 60s baby-boomers coming with their narcissistic self-indulgence and pandered to them and bribed them with our money and effectively robbed us all by ruining the economy.

It worries me that so many on this blog admire this evil man. What does that say about them ?

In 1997 our economy was sound - it is now a mess

Ah come on! The last Tory government presided over the worst recession in living memory!

Yes we were wrong about that Comstock.

I should have made it clear that what has got worse in this country, are the things the Govt has some control over

Come on Andrew. That isn't a sustatainable statement and deep down you know it.

Health care, worse than in 1997? Education?

Bring it on Tone!

What matters is how much money is actually in the United Kingdom cash register.

The fact is .......not much.

Massive personal indebtedness, NHS cutbacks, defence cuts, unmanageable pension commitments.

All this despite the collosal tax burden placed on the British People.

Cameron should relish it.

The only thing of any benefit to me is the NMW. Unfortunately the pay increase Im expecting next week I wont see, due to rising mortgages, which means my rent goes up next week. Changes with taxation means my disposable income actually falls...

So overall, no. I have nothing to thank Blair and Labour for.

Health care, worse than in 1997?

In many respects Comstock YES. No out of hours (08:30 to 17:30) local doctors appointments or visits we have to go to a clinic in A&E 13 miles away with no bus service, no weekend local emergency appointments, difficulty in making appointments, no NHS dentist.

Comstock, considering the amounts that have been spent on health and Education, I don't think value for money has been achieved.

So farewell Lionel ! Who would have thought that when you left a succesful charades based afternoon TV show for leadership of the Labour party you'd still be here 13 years later.

I have written an extensive report on the speech on my own political blog.

Comstock, you might remember that the last recession was a direct result of first shadowing the Mark and then entering the ERM. Labour backed that policy to the hilt, including at the 1992 Election. They then used the fallout as a stick with which to beat the Tories. It is a measure of the Tories' utter incompetence that in fifteen years, they have never pointed out Labour's complicity and opportunism (compare the way in which Labour's rapid rebuttal machine batted away Tory criticisms over Iraq on the basis that the Tories backed Blair). Or was Labour's position on the ERM never mentioned because Ken Clarke, Chris Patten, Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine thought it was a wonderful idea too?


You quote Francis Maude as saying that "with the NHS in crisis and crime soaring, the British people won’t share Mr Blair’s misty-eyed nostalgia" This is sheer chutzpah. Any statements of policy (well, burbles of policy) I've seen from the Cameron team concerning the NHS and law and order are mere echoes of Blair's policies. With Cameron/Maude in charge we will still be left with an NHS completely funded by the taxpayer and, as yet, we have no promises of wholesale repeal of the unnecessary and illiberal (in the original sense) "security" legislation pushed through under Blair? And anyway, who would believe promises made by somebody undertaking to leave the EPP on being made leader?

OTOH Maude is correct that the British will not be nostalgic for the return of Blair. Why should they be when Blair Mark 2 is leading the Conservative party?

It was a fine speech, marking the end of the first ten years of continuous Labour rule. And, as Tony Blair rightly said, the historic three election victories would not have been achieved without Gordon Brown.

I think Tony Blair was right too, when he said that Labour must look ahead to the next ten years. It is appropriate that, whilst Gordon Brown and himself have undoubtably been the right team to lead Labour up until now, the new Leader they choose will have to follow a significantly different path in order to meet the challenges of the next ten years.

Gordon Brown looked relaxed and pleased with the praise heaped upon him by Tony Blair. He certainly deserved to bask in the glory of a triumphant ten years of labour. The Labour Party must now follow Mr Blair's advice and look to a new leader, one who is fitted to take their Party forward for the next ten years. I wonder who he had in mind...

It was a well delivered speech and contained some points that we need to take on board. The single biggest lesson for us is we need to avoid squandering the improvement in our chances that David Cameron has brought. Ill-thought through ideas like "hug a hoodie" should be nailed to the forehead of whatever twerp came up with that idea! Which is why I hope that DC has some real heavyweight advisor on PR to curtail some of the own goals that are starting to happen.

Comstock - Even if one was to accept that some things may be better now than in 1997 (I am not saying they are) it would follow that things would be far better if the Conservatives had been in power. Any achievements Blair may have made have been due to New Labour stealing conservative policies, had we had a true Conservative government we would have had bigger, bolder, more successful policies without the deceit and moral bankruptcy of the past 9 years of Labour.

Comstock: I have been a Party activist for 20 years - I heard a completely new phenomenon when canvassing at last year's Gen Election: comments every day from older people all over the Constituency and beyond "I'm glad I won't be alive for much longer, I hate what has happened to this country".

That's Blair's depressing legacy, and the faux catch in his voice today made us heave and then switch off the radio.

For goodness sake folks - let's not get nostalgic about Bliar! Above all - let's not wish him on his way too soon. Given the current state of NuLab, the longer he stays in post the greater the number of leadership contenders that will emerge, with a consequential increase in the internecine strife that is already taking place in that Party.

This explosive mix will get richer the longer Bliar stays in post. He is presiding over major loss of UK life in Iraq & Afghanistan, often due to failing to adequately equip our forces; the conscious and continuing sacrifice of British traditions and values on the altar of the unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in the EU and a whole host of processes designed to remove the historic freedom of our people and what's left of Parliamentary Sovereignty.

Whilst in post he is both a recruiting sergeant for the Conservative Party and the alchemist who may well cause NuLab to destroy itself. Don't wish him out too soon.

I agree with Cllr Standring. The other bonus is that by cosying up with Gordon Brown Blair is falling for our trap... well and truly.

I am recruiting more members in Normanton than I believed was humanly possible. That is down to Blair... people hate him. Our medium term problem was always going to be political. Old Labour don't turn out to vote in anywhere near the numbers they used to. We have picked up council seats as a consequence.

Now... with Brown taking over I was worried these voters may flock back to Labour. I am now sure that this will not be the case. Brown is seen as much 'Nu Labour' than Blair.

The only difference between Blair and Brown is that people blame Brown for the pensions crisis. This may harden our support.

What Blair said about looking forward and not back and having the sense to know that basically without winning you can`t achieve anything could just as easily be addressed to Conservative Party members.
We all need to think that unless we get Cameron into number ten none of us will get anything we believe in and that another Labour term will simply mean us getting yet more of the things we all detest.

Minimum Wage - We have no experience whatsoever of how the minimum wage will affect the economy when the going is bad. I suspect that when times are lean for business you are going to see the MW put firms out of business. It is far too early to call it, because we haven't seen it in all economic weathers.

Public Services - hosed billions into unreformed (unreformable) education and health provision. Nothing to show for it if you look past the massaged figures.

Crime - the country feels far less safe than it did nine years ago. Has turned the police force into an social engineering experiment and hobbled its ability to effectively fight crime. Has created over 700 new criminal offences. This is not a good thing.

All in all, no loss.

BUT - our lesson is not the same as Labour's was in 1994. People felt OK about the Labour Party, but realised their policies were from another age.

People love our policies, but dislike us. Don't allow uber-Wets like Maude to throw the baby out with the bathwater in their demented hankering after a Heathite past that is best forgotten.


Time to get our tanks back on our lawn.

If it's true that Blair has "led deep raids into our natural territory - geographically and ideologically", then every now and again we may end up agreeing with him...

National Minimum Wage was good, trust schools should be good, Bank of England independence was definitely good, Job Seekers' Allowance was alright...that's about all I can think of. After 9 years.

Anyway, I hope they enjoy their nostalgia. They can all start recording this blissful period in their minds, because the whole stinking lot of them are on their way out.

Comstock 1705 - "Ah come on! The last Tory government presided over the worst recession in living memory!
" Come off it. NOT IN 1997 !!! Earlier had been bad as we tried to join the euro - a total disaster
But the economy in 1997 was prospering, we were the most competitive economy in Europe with more pension savings than the rest of Europe put together. Being driven out of the ERM was the best thing that could have hapened and it all happened under a Tory government. You've fallen for Labour black propaganda.

Blair must be revelling in the number of Cameroons he's converted.

But the economy in 1997 was prospering, we were the most competitive economy in Europe

What does that *actually* mean? I hear this phrase quite a lot on here. Does that mean working for the lowest wages with the fewest rights? If so I fail to see the good side, execept for the 'fat cats'!

CR - The minumum wage has led to an enormous illegal black market, particularly in the agricultural sector, which is exploiting cheap labour.

If that isn't bad enough just wait until the minimum wage is tested in a recession. Sooner or later it will have to be reversed.

Comstock @ 16.49; I welcomed Tony Blair when he became PM because he seemed to have progressive centrist views and wanted to get rid of the loony left that had made Labour virtually unelectable.
Gordon Brown put the Bank of England in charge of inflation and funding of public services has increased enormously.
All these are plusses but I want three qualities from government (i) honesty, (ii) transparency and (iii) managerial competence.
Judged by these criteria, Blair and Brown fail dismally.

It was a brilliant virtuoso performance by Blair.

I see New Labour increasingly getting its act together from now on. Blair and Brown are serious politicians, much as we may dislike their views.

The trouble with Cameron and Osborne is that they really are Junior XV material.

And a pale pink version of the New Labour original isn't a recipe for lasting success.

Do you really see the profligate pouring of funds into public services as a "good thing", Mr Belchamber? - just what proportionate benefit have we received for all of that expended largesse?
And Brown put the Bank Of England in charge of interest rate policy, not inflation - would that anyone could be in charge of that. Your concern for the well-being of the Labour Party is puzzling. Are you sure that you're a Conservative? Or just a "progressive-centrist" that has strayed onto ConservativeHome?

Blair is the best of a bad bunch and I fear the day he leaves it all to that rabble. Having said that, Labour have been universally bad for Britain- little is better than 1997 and many things are one hell of a lot worse.The only beneficiaries have been those near the bottom of the economic pile and any countries engine of development, the middle class, have been broken by that....and when all the remortgage money is spent, then we are really going to hit the skids.

I cannot work out the praise for his speech on this site. It said nothing much, lacked substantive argument and was quite ordinary as far as goodbye speeches go.

Christina Speight: It worries me that so many on this blog admire this evil man. What does that say about them ?
What it says about them is that they are Labour supporters and they have come on here to debate pretending to be tories.
Indeed there are other's who pretend to be tories on the far right but strangely criticise using the rhetoric of the left.
This is in fact a strategy See Andy Burnham's comments at the end of this article. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5379970.stm
Still ConservativeHome is free for anyone to say what they like (Within Reason) whoever they are or pretend to be and that is what makes it a Conservative Site.

You can admire Blair for how effective a political operator he is. Blair is a skilled politician. Look how after all the controversies of the last 9 years, he's still in power. I hate his politics and I detest those he hangs around with, but in terms of being a political operator, you've got to admire the skills he's employed.

After hearing about this fight in the fringe meeting at the Labour conference, I think we can expect to see an ideological fight until the leadership changes. This isnt going to be about the face of Labour, this fights going to go to the heartt of its philosophy. Just look at what Johnson had to say...

As a long-term resident of the UK, though a foreigner, I have despaired of seeing any improvement. We get 3 years of "Disaster" Brown, followed by the Tories winning an election, and then rolling back approx 10 % of what Labour has wrecked in its 12 - 13 years, to universal acclaim.

The other 90 % of destruction will stay firmly in place, endless govt employees telling the rest of us what to do, while we meekly pay their inflated salaries and pensions, the politicised civil service will stay, EU interference will stay, but I intend to emigrate to the Philippines, where my wife is from, because although they have corruption and crime, they do NOT have endless attacks by crime-fighters and officialdom on the law-abiding like me. I calculate that there I will have only half the problems I have here now.

Maggie, come BACK ! DC does not cut it, and all the rest are totally anonymous, or wet.

Alan Douglas

I think Blair will move abroad. I don't think he will bother much with british politics post-retirement. He will either make tremendous money or get a plum international job. In the first scenario, he will spend a lot of time in the US.

i'm just so sick of the man. goodbye , good riddance , yes you defined the late 90's in all their wafer thin splendour, now please naff off. Is it a surprise it was a good speech ? they've had long enough to write it. And you can stop wringing out those hankies, like Clinton before him he will doubtless conspire to conflate his tastes for media whoredom and conspicous charity and will soon no doubt be linking hands with Third Wayers all over the world for some infinitely worthy but appallingly wordy cause. Just remeber all the lies , all the sub messianic preening , 'we'll sort out africa , the middle east , war poverty, injustice etc.' Utter tosh ,all fabrications, lie upon odius , stinking lie , as this foul government sinks in a morass of corruption and power hungry backstabbing. What a shower of shit they really are. how many more brave soldiers have to die because of the lies this creep toldd in Parliament? Where are the WMD's Tony ?

Just watching the BBC coverage, after 15 minutes, the camera turns to Prescott...was he asleep? I swear his eyes were closed and his head was hanging!

Anthony Calvert - labour will always be exploited, whether there is a minumum wage or not. Overall, it has been good. It may cause further problems, but only because they keep raising it. It'll never be reversed.

I've worked some crappy jobs in recent years. At a couple of places I was regularly not paid for the overtime work I did. And at one place we used to get told on a Thursday or Friday that people were needed on the weekend, and asked whether we would like to "volunteer". If you didn't "volunteer", your name was noted and the bosses would then look for absolutely any opportunity to fire you that they could document in the right way. The NMW meant that despite the crappy conditions at these places, we still got a decent amount of money from the jobs. God knows what they would pay if they had a choice.

Tony Blair as been wrong with most of the things he as attempted while in power but I think its over the top to describe him as evil. Wrong yes evil no.
I don`t believe it does plitical debate any good in this country when people refer to members of this countrys government in such a way from whatever party they are,
No wonder most people get turned off by politics today.

John Coles @ 19.55: In nearly 10 years of government, it is very churlish to suggest that Nulab has got nothing right.
I don't see the increase in funding of public services to a level similar to that enjoyed by other large EU countries as a "profligate pouring of funds"; they were underfunded by the tories.
Where I agree with you is that we are not receiving value for money and that is where my third criterion about managerial competence comes in.
Interest rate policy controls inflation and that has remained low for many years.
Even if I were a "progressive centrist" (I rather like that description), do the tories not want my vote - or does Chad's new style UKIP get it?

Of course Blair isn't evil. An absurd statement.

At the very least he has shown more commitment to the War of Terror than some of our so-called fellow-Tories.

We can also thank him for removing Major, although that wasn't difficult. I don't think I actually shouted "Tory Gain!" in Heffer style but I guess most of us were delighted to see the back of Britain's worst Prime Minister ever.

Have to say, there's going to be a bit of a post conference bounce for Labour on the strength of that speech alone.
His influence on Labour support is going to start diminishing, there might be a spell of uncertainty but with Gordon Brown having been Chancellor of the Exchequer for 10 years by the time he will take over then I wouldn't expect any major changes in support in the short term.

National Minimum Wage was good, trust schools should be good, Bank of England independence was definitely good, Job Seekers' Allowance was alright...that's about all I can think of. After 9 years.
I don't think the National Minimum Wage has been very good, it was probably a neccessary measure as part of current labour market and welfare structure as low wages mean higher benefits, a restructured labour market with little regulation and lower more universal benefits and wages could then be treated like the cost of commodoties such as a bag of sugar and be completely unregulated.

JSA was already in place when Labour came to power, the Treasury has wanted to bring together the means tested and contributory benefits for years where they are taxed to simplify things - from 1935 to 1948 as part of Public Assistance there was a benefit called Unemployment Assistance which was for people whose 26 week entitlement had run out or who had never paid enough contributions to qualify in the first time - although they were 2 seperate benefits in effect Unemployment Benefit and Unemployment Assistance in the 1940's amounted to a similar structure, Income Support for the Unemployed and Income Based Jobseekers Allowance were very much the same, there was more of a change on the contributory side but mostly all it means is that the rules became more generous progressively from the introduction of such schemes in 1911 until the 1970's when first the Labour government and then the incoming Conservative government in 1979 began tightening the rules and now the rules are largely back where they were 40 or 50 years ago - it's nothing revolutionary.

Freudian slip.

"War ON Terror"

but only because they keep raising it. It'll never be reversed.
A future government might decide to stop uprating it or even decide to abolish it, Wages Councils similarily were ultimately scrapped.

"Our deadliest political opponent leaves the stage"

Your "deadliest political opponent" is not Blair. He has, however, over the past months, finally succumbed to your
real deadliest enemy.
After the debacle of the Major Government your (and Britain's) deadliest enemy embraced and promoted Blair as if he was the Second Coming. Eventually those that promoted him fell out of love with the Golden Boy over Iraq. Blair was no longer Left enough for the likes of the BBC and the lefties in the media and in his Party. The self-loathing lefties and prostrate apologists for western culture and capitalism set out to undermine Blair: they succeeded. Blair's domestic policies failed dismally and some of those are downright dangerous to the health and safety of Britain. It will be ironic that history will remember, vindicate and praise Blair for his foreign policy and emphatic support of the USA in the fight against terrorism, misguidedly perpetrated in the name of an Islamic holy war - that policy being the most salient reason and ground for the unremitting attacks by the Left to remove him. If you do not believe that history will look kindly on Blair and consider him prescient then just wait - wait till Iran obtains nuclear weapons.

And as for the Tories and Cameron ..... well what about the Tories and Cameron?
Any answer at this moment in time would n't fill up half of one side of a post card. He seems to be half Green and half Lib/Dim yellow. If you mix Green and Yellow you will get Brown. But then again, perhaps Cameron realises who his most "deadliest political opponent" is. It is too early to say and only time will tell what Cameron does believe, but let us hope he believes in something, dare I say, Conservative?

CR - Yeh when I was 16 I worked at Morrisons for £1.94 an hour (tight git that Ken Morrison!) and they treated us like vermin. But it was all documented and legal.

Are you seriously telling me the NMW has not had an adverse effect on the labour market, especially eastern European??

The Cockle Pickers International Trades Unions would disagree with you

So who next for us to fight and battle with.
With Blair gone we will be already considering hwo will lead labour next. Best thing we cna do is keep quiet and let them (and hope Labour do) elect Brown. Aside form any views we may all share on his public persona, speeches and ideology...the public dont care too much. What will help us is that Labour is going to be servign up to the British public, Second Best. The man who had to stand aside for nubmer one, for Blair!
Labour have no new number one, so the Country gets a man Labour itself felt was at lest second best when they annointed St Tony. That will have not been missed by our friends and neighbours in our streets and towns, they know when they see the real thing, they can feel it. We can see it too and we can now look to deliver it by doing what matters locally so that people ocntinue to growth faith in who we are, what we stand for and most importantly come to see and belive that we can and do and will deliver!

Good byee Good byee wipe the glistening tear from your eyee. Oh its hard to part I know still we're tickled to death you go..

We dont want to lose you but we think you should go..

etc etc

Just watched Blair's speech. He certainly is a ruddy good speaker, and he said some very important things. I'm looking forward to Cameron's speech, if only to compare and contrast the general ability. I fear he won't be patch on Blair, but I hope to be proved wrong.

I got the general impression, especially towards the end of his speech, that Blair is just a little pissed off that there isn't anyone in the Labour party that comes close to him in terms of mass appeal. He knows it's right for him to stand down, and he just wanted to give such a long period of notice so as to allow a successor time to prepare. Does he want John Reid?

The joke was an interesting shot given that Cherie and Brown were there. She thought it was great, Brown not so...

Jack Stone writes - "I think its over the top to describe him as evil. Wrong yes evil no."

I base my use of the term "evil" on many criteria but two facts stand out.

Firstly he DELIBERATELY falsified the dossier he produced to get the vote he wanted in the HoC to take us to war. I happen to agree that the war was necessary but to DELIBERATELY falsify evidence talks volumes of the man's evil nature. Then it was due to Blair's desie to cover up that he effectively sent (drove?) an innocent civil servant to his death.

The political shenanigans are deplorable but these two things alone are evil in nature and - let it be said in the context of his Christian allegiance - sins.

Does he want John Reid?
I rather think he wants Gordon Brown to succeed him and that actually Gordon Brown will continue most of Labour's policies and intensify many in fact because especially on domestic policy in the main they are Gordon Brown's policies. Tonty Blair knows though that the endorsement of the outgoing leader for anyone is frequently the kiss of death and that if he were to say anything along those lines the next thing would be headlines saying that Tony Blair was going to be back seat driver for Labour, just as when Mrs Thatcher in the early 1990's said she was backing Major and that she would be a back seat driver, the initial media opinion on this was that John Major wasn't his own man and was just a puppet.

John Reid appears to have decided that Gordon Brown is certain to win and in fact there are signs that he has reservations about running for Deputy Leader as well; Alan Milburn in the past has been reluctant even to be a cabinet minister, a number of times he has left the cabinet on grounds that it interferes with his family life, indeed his speech on decentralisation might well have been switching his support to Gordon Brown as new leader and maybe Alan Milburn would return periodically as a temporary cabinet minister, Charles Clarke now has apologised for things he has said - is he looking for a job or did Tony Blair tell him to? Charles Clarke used wording that said that lots of people had said things they shouldn't, it was evidently some kind of compromise wording - John Hutton thinks there should be a serious challenger and at this rate he is going to be it as increasing numbers of cabinet ministers back Gordon Brown, John McDonnell is not a serious contender and probably won't even get enough votes to be nominated - it's possible that Gordon Brown might attempt to ensure that John McDonnell gets the neccessary signatures so that there is a contest and there could be an election in which Gordon Brown would win in all 3 parts of the Electoral College, no doubt John McDonnell would do better among party members generally and with many of the Trade Unions but would still be way off - maybe enough though to get him a ministerial position and setup a run for the Deputy Leadership?

Malcolm, sorry for the delay in replying - let me reply directly.

Sorry, but I just don't accept that the public shares your view that the Prime Minister is "deeply dishonest": I actually don't think it's an accurate description in the first place but that's a subjective decision.

But Blair did touch on this point in his speech - I paraphrase, but he said something like: the British public recognise the difficulty of leadership; they'll even forgive a mistake, but they never forgive someone who doesn't make a decision.

This I think goes to the heart of the flaw with Cameron: he gets the importance of image and presentation but I don't think he (and many other Conservatives) believe that new Labour is anything more than a response to the most recent focus group - and are simply attempting to immitate a false analysis of new Labour.

Hence, it really doesn't impress me when Cameron attacks the US just because he sees the public mood as being anti-US. It doesn't impress me when he cycles to work but has his papers follow him in his official car. It doesn't impress me when he tries to appeal to civil libertarians by saying hug a hoodie because he thinks (grossly wrongly) that the public sides with Liberty on these issues.

If your view of Blair is founded upon Iraq of course his legacy, like Bush's is going to be dominated by the impact of 9/11. But look at someone like Chirac: the antithesis of Blair - do you think history will judge this appeasing, corrupt, craven and in my view far more dishonest man more favourably? I don't.

When Blair goes to America, he humiliates Bush in press conferences by the far superior way he can frame the issues; there is today no stronger communicator among world leaders.

It doesn't impress me when he cycles to work but has his papers follow him in his official car.
What he needs is a pedal car, actually with regard to him cycling when being followed by his car it's obviously good from the point of view of exercise and people need to rely less on cars and buses from the point of view of getting exercise as much as anything, from an environmental perspective it couldn't be claimed as a success although having papers carried securely really is essential and that can't really be done with a bicycle - this is even more the case for government ministers, if you think of problems with official papers having been accidentally left on buses or trains - for many papers the car is a civil service requirement. It's unfortunate that as in the USA it has got to the point where politicians and increasingly everyone else are observed at micro level with regard to every detail with people expecting the impossible and with every move being seen as having to express some kind of statement.

Goodbye to the Richard Nixon of our generation.

A deeply dishonest man who allowed his New Labour cronies to stuff their pockets with contracts, commissions, passports and honours whilst allowing his old Labour apparatchik to waste billions of hard earned taxpayers money on pet projects and blind inefficiency. All this whilst gleefully putting the boot into those it deemed unworthy and, god forbid, tory - the farmers, the families, married couples, aspirational students, small businesspeople, those opting for choice and independance in their education and healthcare - the list goes on...

Scandal after scandal, disgrace after disgrace. The Tories stood back, bickering and unsure of themselves, too often as his New Labour Project looted the country with their air of moral superiority and aggressive missionary zeal.

He claims he and his Chancellor created an economic 'miracle', but it was mortgaged against the future of all of us on unsustainable public borrowing and spending, consumer credit, a possibly unsustainable property price bubble and a shift to a service-based economy that is already leaking jobs by the tens of thousands to our overseas competitors. But let's not forget the solid Conservative foundations that allowed him the spending money in the first place - Brown and Blair never had to go begging like Healey and Callaghan to the IMF - they have the Blessed Margaret to thank for that heritage.

This has been a government not 'by the people for the people' and 'purer than pure' as he promised, but one for the consultant, the billionaire donor, the quangocrat and the bureaucrat, the needless social worker, the scrounger and the criminal. Those are the real winners of the Blair Era and the rest of us have had to put up with the symptoms of this binge of bad government and pay the bill. All the time power has been centralised and parliament, The Commons and 'cabinet government' perverted and eroded. It's what happens when you let government be directed by fawning focus groups, belligerant spin-doctors and dodgy dossiers. At least we didnt have to pay for it with our homes and lives - others did.

Never more so than in the Blair Era had Viscount Hailsham's maxim that the post of PM is one of elected dictator been true than under this stinking sleazy administration. He threw off the checks and balances only marginally guaranteed by an unwritten constitution and made the British Government a beast of burden for his dogma and vanity.

At every turn his administration, convinced of some sort of divine right to government, has politicised and neutered vast swathes of media, judiciary, civil service and even the police force and armed forces. Combined with unprecedented funding, blatent gerrymandering, shameless political lies, media manipulation and what was a uniquely modern party machine, this undeniably talented and unequalled media performer has been unstoppable.

Unstoppable that is by everything except his own strategic foolhardiness and arrogance that he could do whatever he always wanted and to hell with the Labour Party. For it is the Labour Party that have brought his rule to a premature end that will see him humiliatingly and humblingly fail to beat the tenure of his true role model, who is of course, our Margaret Thatcher.

Abroad his record has not matched his high-flown ambition and rhetoric of 'moral mission' and an 'ethical foreign policy'. His inability to be a questioning and candid friend to our US allies in the manner of Churchill and Thatcher has led us the West into an expensive and deadly quagmire in the middle east thus draining the allies of the credibility and resources to tackle other more urgent threats in Korea, Iran and at home.

It took the Conservative Party more than 15 years to get over the loss of a leader of the calibre and talent of Thatcher. Let us hope for the sake of this divided and unsure nation that Labour takes at least as long to recover from the loss of this photogenic and eloquent Islington solicitor, and that we can kick this discredited bunch out soon and for a very long time.

His inability to be a questioning and candid friend to our US allies in the manner of Churchill and Thatcher has led us the West into an expensive and deadly quagmire in the middle east thus draining the allies of the credibility and resources to tackle other more urgent threats in Korea, Iran and at home.
Removing the evil Ba'athist regime in Iraq is something that Dubya and Tony Blair have to be given credit for, Iraq was developing new guidance systems and longer range missiles - it had only abandoned it's Nuclear, Chemical and Biological programmes because it was under constant scrutiny already and without the restrictions on it it would have gone on invading it's neighbours and massacring it's own citizens as much as before, with creation of the Kurdish autonomous zone it was slightly restricted but was still able to play games with weapons inspectors and destroy the southern marshes and kill thousands more, if they hadn't been removed this would have continued with Saddam Hussein waiting until the world's attention had shifted away from Iraq to get back to developing an Iraqi nuclear warhead and to conquest og neighbouring countries - the regime should have been removed 20 years ago. France, Germany and Russia all have had business interests in backing the regime - France gave Iraq the technology to build a nuclear plant that Israeli jets destroyed in 1981, French and German companies had been the main suppliers of the Iraqi military, Russia had loaned them vast sums of money and had then signed energy deals with the regime to attempt to recoup the money, as for China they don't like the Security Council doing anything because next they might want to focus attention on Taiwan or Tibet which China continues to occupy, if Russia is so eager for coalition forces not to be involved in Iraq then why doesn't it pull it's own forces out of Chechnya - what did Chechnya ever do to Russia or neighbours that it is so occupied, the fact is that many governments who opposed the war are hypocrites who mostly are the very imperialists they accuse the USA and UK of being.

"Goodbye to the Richard Nixon of our generation."

Don't be absurd.

"Scandal after scandal, disgrace after disgrace."

After the Major years a little humility might be appropriate on that score.

"Posted by: Robson S Leeds | September 27, 2006 at 03:38"

Late night? Early morning? Or yet another Aussie ex-CCO apparatchik?

I make a prediction: history will mark the legacy of this Prime Minister as nothing more or less than the first third term Labour PM.

But where is the legacy?

He has moderated (not reformed) the Labour Party's Socialist instincts, he leaves a looming economic black hole, shrunken pensions, and no lasting improvement in services (we will pay 10 times over for those shiny new PFIs). He has tinkered with our democracy and eroded our freedoms. Even Ireland, arguably, was punch-drunk and ready to move on.

Yesterday I asked myself, has anyone learned anything in the last 10 years?

Despite calls for the last remaining passenger to come to the Departure Lounge immediately Tony Blair still holds onto power, hoping to spend the remaining goodwill on solving the problems in Israel. He will fail.

Gordon Brown can take over - he will forever begrudge Tony Blair as long as he tries to compare his own success in terms of longevity and reform. He does not inherit the same favourable political landscape or possess the charisma with which to navigate it. His days will be few.

And the Conservative Party? We must not be sucked into using this last decade as our sole frame of political reference. We must not define our future ambitions solely in terms of the priorities or legacy of this Labour Government.

Have we spent the last decade pressed up against the glass of the sweet shop window, waiting for our turn to get back inside and indulge ourselves once more?

I wept in 1997: for a Conservative Party that had morally and politically imploded, and for the damage that was about to be done.

Please God, not again.

Late night? Early morning? Or yet another Aussie ex-CCO apparatchik?'

Yes 'Monday Clubber' - it was me, Linton Crosby, all along and I would've got away with it if it hadnt been for you pesky teenagers....

Do me a favour old boy and pop another shrimp on the barbee

Why on earth would someone who presumably is so conservative that they chose the blog-nom-de-plume Monday Clubber be so offended by that little account of the mess of Blairism that they are battering the keyboard at breakfast? Why would you bring the comparitively second rate scandals of the Major Years to defend Labour this week of all weeks?

Your endless negativity and little potshots confuse us all ...

yet another Aussie ex-CCO apparatchik?

Actually, Monday, there aren't many other former CCO staffers from Australia. Some, but not many.

Personally, I strongly agree with Blair's support for the American alliance. I think your country's relationship with the United States is the best strategic asset you have. It certainly is Australia's.

From the highlights last night it seemed a class speech from a class act. He can't run the country for toffee, but Blair's still the best in the business.

History will recall Blair as a rather better version of Harold Wilson: made the Bolshies electable; won some stunning victories; squandered his opportunities and wasted a lot of taxpayers' money; left his party embittered and divided. Just as 1964 wasn't the great turning point people hoped for at the time, 1997 will be seen as no great shakes.

In a mood of generosity, I'd say Blair will be remembered for:

(a) Bank of England independence (which really took the Major/Clarke arrangements to their logical conclusion, but do offer a new model for running quangos);

(b) introducing ASBOs (a damning indictment of the way the criminal justice system has collapsed);

(c) recognising that the post-1945 UN model of international relations no longer works (Kosovo is more important here than Afghanistan or Iraq);

(d) bottling out of joining the euro.

As with Wilson, the really interesting thing to ponder is that Labour only find winning form when they pick an untypical Labour type as their leader.

Well, despite the unremitting adulation of the BBC since he sat down, I think history will mark the passing of an under-achiever who left more problems than he found and failed to use the power of his office to tackle them.
He came from a generation who spent so much energy undermining tradition and authority that they couldn't diffentiate between what needed renewing and what should have been cherished. He fiddled with everything and damaged things which needed preserving whilst failing to properly reform the public services which desperately needed change.
This lack of interest in the detail had its worst consequence in foreign policy where his correct instinct that the Atlantic alliance must be maintained, was damagingly undermined by his failure to ask tough questions and to prepare adequately for post-Saddam Iraq.
He did not love freedom or Parliament or debate. He abused the power of patronage and managed a compliant media with ruthless cynicism. He did not care for the lessons of history or the discipline of self-restraint. In this he was truly in touch with the spirit of the age.

"Why on earth would someone who presumably is so conservative that they chose the blog-nom-de-plume Monday Clubber be so offended by that little account of the mess of Blairism that they are battering the keyboard at breakfast?"

Possibly because I have been a member of the Monday Club for many years. I may be less right-wing now than I was once, but I'm still a member.

Actually I'm intrigued by your latest posts. You've moved from touchy-feely Notting Hill Political Correctness to good old-fashioned rightwing Red-bashing in less than a week.

Be that as it may, comparing Blair with Nixon is as ridiculous as calling the Labour Party a "Gestapo"

Peter, I think you'll find that in every poll that has asked the question recently Blairs' honesty is accepted by less than 20% of the population.I have to say that the 20% must be the most naive or foolish people in the country. I would agree with you 'though that Blair is far more articulate and a better actor than Bush but then who isn't? Maybe Prescott but nobody else that I can think of !
Dear Monday Clubber, I think your posts on this thread have confirmed what I have long suspected, you are a new Labour troll aren't you ? Why not be honest with us rather than trying not very successfully trying to pose as a rightwing Tory?

Well Malcolm I was a TU rep for many years and one day one of my colleagues said "I saw you on TV at the Tory Conference. I can't believe it. I've always assumed you were Labour"

So it seems you are not alone.

Were you there as a TU observer Monday Clubber? I simply don't believe you're a real member of the Tory party as you seem to admire the actions of Blairs government so much.

DB at 19.35 and many others re the independance of the Bank of England. In the Budget Review the Chancellor determines the rate of inflation for the ensuing year and it is to this figure that the Bank of England operates. So the Bank of England is not independant of the Chancellor.

No Malcolm, I was an association rep, and went as such for many years.

You are obviously a greater expert on "Labour Trolls" than I am, but I would hve thought that a "Labour Troll" claiming to be a member of the Monday Club would probably take a kind of Alf Garnett/Archie Bunker role on the blog

But maybe I'm too devious for that.

Maybe you are Monday Clubber.

Well, as they say, there's no answer to that.

I just can`t take people seriously who say on successive days that both John Major and Tony Blair are evil.
Hitler was evil. Stalin was evil but I don`t think ever of these men could be sensibly described as such.
They both did things that were wrong, they both did things you can disagree with but I think frankly to describe basically decent men as evil is the politics of the sewer.

Many have praised Blair here for being an astute political operator irrespective of what they thought of his beliefs. (If indeed he has any other than being elected). Sadly, I would have to concur with this viewpoint.

However, what has been ignored is that Blair has benefited enormously by a lack of effective opposition. (I suppose much the same way that Lady Thatcher did in the 80's). Whatever we may think of DC's policies, (or lack of them), he has at least provided an opposition.

Maybe he is finally going because he fears a GE against someone with an actual chance of beating him. As we said earlier-astute politician.

After the Major years a little humility might be appropriate on that score.

We really need to get over this, the 'sleaze' of the Major years was NOTHING compared to the instituionalised corruption under Blair.

Almost from day one with Bernie Ecclestone's million quid, New Labour have been corrupt at the highest levels in a systematic way. Companies like Capita have grown huge on government contracts while their executives loaned money to the Labour Party.

Holders of some of the highest offices in the land have been shown to be personally and professionally corrupt and prepared to misuse the powers of their office without shame.

I agree with Mike completely. Whereas the corruption of politics under Blair goes right to the heart of government, Major never had a problem with his executive.

Ok a few backbenchers had trouble staying out of trouble and/or keeping their trousers up but we didn't see cabinet scandal after cabinet scandal.

In opposition Blair moralised time and time again about backbench Tory sleaze. In government he destroyed public confidence in politics and politicians by appointing corrupt cabinet ministers and then re-appointing them mere months after they resigned in disgrace!

That is his legacy and the annoying thing is that because the conservative movement has been so fragmented over the last 10 years we have let them get away with it!

Gentlemen, the comparison of 'sleaze' between the Clark/Heseltine government (fronted by Major) and Blair's is no comparison - the NuLab excesses have been far far worse. As said above, corrupt and rotten to the core, to an extent unparalleled in British political history.

However, though I hate to say it, it has to be admitted that Blair's devastating attack on Major: "I lead my party, you follow yours" has been proven correct. The British instictively like a strong leader, and Blair has certainly been that. His authority has been unquestioned from day 1, and despite the succession row, still is. Had Major been a stronger leader, or indeed a leader full stop, the public would have forgiven the 'sleaze'. I am pleased to see that Blair is going - I think that NuLab are crazy to get rid of him. He has beaten us 3 times, and of any in NuLab he would have the best chance of making it 4. The fact that he is our opponent should not prevent us from learning from him.

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