May 10, 2007

Tony's Resignation Speech: Live Blog

Tony Blair gives his resignation speechSo, he’s going, and it might be even sooner than we thought. The atmosphere at Trimdon Labour Club is pretty hysterical – there’ll probably be tears and there’s already dancing by one woman. Nutter.

11:57 Philip Gould, Blair’s polling expert, is ignoring the idea of “lowering expectations”. Apparently after this speech the whole country will be moved, and start to wonder what we’re missing out on. Wishful thinking, I think. Intriguingly he says: “I think people will be surprised”. Ten more years! Ten more years!

11:59 Anyone know how many people are allowed in Trimdon Labour club according to the fire regulations? I reckon they’re on the upper limit.

12:00 Blair’s agent John Burton introduces the Prime Minister.

12:01 Caption of the morning was on BBC News 24: “Blair: Today is a special day”. Someone suggested there might be 26 hours or something.

12:03 And the PM’s on the stage.

12:04 Joke #1: The person shouting ‘four more years!’ outside Trimdon Labour Club wasn’t on-message for today. He’s paying tribute to his agent.

12:05 And here’s the shock announcement: He loves Cherie. Nope, that’s not it.

12:06 “Today I announce my decision to stand down from the leadership of the Labour Party… On the 27th of June [Wednesday] I will tender my resignation… I’ve been Prime Minister for ten years – I think that’s enough.”

12:08 “I was born almost a decade after the Second World War. I was a young man in a social revolution. I reached political maturity as the world was ending and the world was going through a revolution. I looked at my own country… strangely uncertain of its future. All that was symbolised by the politics of the time. You stood for individual aspiration and getting on in life or social compassion and helping others. You were liberal or conservative. You believed in the power of the state or the power of the individual. None of it made sense to me. It was 20th Century ideology in a world approaching a new millennium.”

12:09 In my opinion, he’s done better speeches than this before. It’s better suited to a Labour Party Conference than a small hall of 300 people.

12:10 “No country attracts overseas investment like we do”. I think China would have something to say about that. And they wouldn’t be alone.

12:11 “Britain is not a follower. Britain is a leader” – So far, the tone’s been fluffier than a set of furry dice.

12:13 Blair’s bearing his soul to the country now. How he put the country ahead of himself, and sometimes even his party.

12:17 He’s moved on to talking about Iraq, terrorism, and how he had to make the decisions he did.

12:19 “I ask you to remember one thing: I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong – that’s your call. But believe one thing if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for the country”

12:20 “I’ve been very lucky and very blessed. This is a blessed country. This is the greatest nation on earth” – he’s saying things he daren’t have said before.

12:21 And his last words? “Good luck”. That’s it. Less than eighteen minutes. His conference speech last year was probably a little more emotional, but in this one he really showed his colours.


- 21 comments by 5 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Perhaps the nearest to an admission of guilt: “I did what I thought was right [but as it turns out, it bleddy well wasn’t…]”.

    10 May 2007, 13:32

  2. Sam Tilston

    About time, he was holding on so tight that his knuckles were going white.

    10 May 2007, 15:49

  3. Wesley Atkins

    Well, I think I speak for many when I say, good riddance!!

    10 May 2007, 16:04

  4. Paul

    Someone at News 24 must be feeling a bit stupid after hastily typing 22nd June on the aston. Still, never wrong for long. No such cock up over on Sky…

    10 May 2007, 16:05

  5. Mathew Mannion

    It was time, unfortunately. A lot of promise, but not much delivered, still more than the Tories would have managed though. They would have been choking on any suggestion of minimum wage or winter fuel credits…

    10 May 2007, 16:17

  6. Luke Parks

    Seldom have I seen such sententious, self-justifying drivel (complete with at least one factual error), even from Tony Blair. I admit that I’ve never liked him, but he could still have struck a better note on his departure.

    10 May 2007, 17:16

  7. Holly Cruise

    He’s going at least five years later than he should have but he didn still manage half a decent prime minister-ship which, as Mat points out, is one half more than the Tories would have managed in the meantime.

    Now what are the chances that he’ll go quietly or will he become, like Thatcher did, a shadow over the party for a long time? And will he ever admit he got Iraw wrong?

    10 May 2007, 18:17

  8. Christopher Doidge

    Paul: At least News 24 didn’t bring in Meg Matthews (Remember her? Used to be married to that one out of Oasis? No?) to talk about how Blair had changed since Cool Britannia. I think that’s worse.

    10 May 2007, 19:18

  9. Sue

    I believe him when he said that he always did what he thought was best for the country. He’s made some bad mistakes but I’ve always thought he was honest and his heart was in the right place. Apparently a friend of his said today “Tony Blairs legacy can be summed up in two words – David Cameron.”

    10 May 2007, 23:05

  10. Luke Parks

    I believe him when he said that he always did what he thought was best for the country. He’s made some bad mistakes but I’ve always thought he was honest and his heart was in the right place.

    I believe that he did what he thought was right, but I wouldn’t really say that he’s honest or that his heart is in the right place. He wasn’t troubled by the fact that at the very least he was aware that the intelligence he peddled on Iraq was weaker than he claimed, and he didn’t have the strength of character to admit he was wrong and apologise. Indeed, when it became obvious he was wrong, he moved the goal-posts and started talking about some vague 21st-century version of the white man’s burden.

    Apparently a friend of his said today “Tony Blairs legacy can be summed up in two words – David Cameron.”

    With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    10 May 2007, 23:38

  11. first of all, I find it ridulous that some people give time to the whole “I did what I thought was right at the time” thing.

    secondly, Luke, I hoping that’s a joke, because what the “friend” means there is that Blair’s legacy is creating a new achetype for party leader/PM.

    The other thing I don’t understand is the ofetn heard talk of “promise” or “potential” when it comes to politicians. What exactly did you think was going to happen? Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t reasonable. It’s just not how things work.

    Response to your other thread on why you don’t like football when I have time, Doidgey.

    11 May 2007, 01:54

  12. Paul

    Chris – but they did manage to use the entire Oasis back catalogue in various packages on the 10 o’clock news.

    And anyway, I’m sure Meg Matthews is a very ahem astute political commentator…

    11 May 2007, 11:51

  13. Christopher Doidge

    I quite liked the 10 o’clock News last night – lots of musical montages, but it wasn’t quite the obituary that other programmes put on.

    11 May 2007, 12:28

  14. Luke Parks

    secondly, Luke, I hoping that’s a joke, because what the “friend” means there is that Blair’s legacy is creating a new achetype for party leader/PM.

    It was certainly a tongue-in-cheek comment. Although I wouldn’t regard someone saying that Blair’s legacy will be Cameron as exactly a friendly thing to say.

    11 May 2007, 13:52

  15. Some weirdo

    Bye Tone, missing you already!!!

    11 May 2007, 14:17

  16. Frucomerci

    I am not sure he did what he thought was best for the country, sometimes looked like he did what Bush thought was best for his country…

    11 May 2007, 16:00

  17. Sue

    Being Prime Minister is obviously a much more difficult job than it appears on the surface otherwise (given all the intelligent well-meaning people we’ve had in the post over the years) we’d be living in some kind of Utopian state by now.

    I think whoever becomes Prime Minister now is unlikely to do any better than Tony Blair and they certainly won’t be so charismatic and such an engaging speaker which is a huge asset when an important part of your job is to “sell” your country on the world stage.

    It’s easy to criticise and be negative about others but I find that it usually makes for bad vibes.

    12 May 2007, 10:20

  18. Luke Parks

    Being Prime Minister is obviously a much more difficult job than it appears on the surface otherwise (given all the intelligent well-meaning people we’ve had in the post over the years) we’d be living in some kind of Utopian state by now.

    Being Prime Minister is not easy, that’s correct. However, being honest and above board is easy, and it’s something that Blair failed to do. It is also perfectly reasonable to hold one’s government to high standards; I don’t expect Utopia but I do draw the line at things like the Iraq war, PFI, the pruning back of civil liberties, tuition fees and student loans, and government by gimmick.

    I think whoever becomes Prime Minister now is unlikely to do any better than Tony Blair and they certainly won’t be so charismatic and such an engaging speaker which is a huge asset when an important part of your job is to “sell” your country on the world stage.

    The thing is, I don’t find Blair an engaging speaker. I find his rhetoric flabby, his arguments flawed, and his tone messianic, and to be honest, these days, whenever I hear him speak, it tends to make me cringe. And charismatic politicians can be a double-edged sword because they often become swept up in their own rhetoric (cf. Blair on Iraq and other cases). Give me someone who knows what they’re talking about any day.

    It’s easy to criticise and be negative about others but I find that it usually makes for bad vibes.

    It is, sadly, easy, but I at least try to limit it to people who deserve it.

    12 May 2007, 13:07

  19. Sue

    Yes, sadly, I agree with you, more or less, Luke, I was merely playing devils advocate. Although I think looking back on his years as Prime Minister in five years time his record won’t seem as bad as it does now. “Like a good wine, a decent person’s reputation will mature and improve with time.” But at the moment it looks pretty rubbish although I don’t find him very cringeworthy but I probably don’t cringe as easily as you.

    12 May 2007, 23:56

  20. Luke Parks

    Although I think looking back on his years as Prime Minister in five years time his record won’t seem as bad as it does now. “Like a good wine, a decent person’s reputation will mature and improve with time.”

    I think it’ll depends on two major factors: 1.) what has happened in the intervening years (ie. if Iraq suddenly took a miraculous turn for the better), and 2.) who you talk to (don’t forget that many people still haven’t forgiven Ramsey MacDonald and he’s been dead 70 years). I can’t see myself ever really coming to a better opinion of Blair, but I’m well aware that I tend to be cranky and cynical. Perhaps when the dust has settled a bit Blair’s reputation will rise a little, but I suspect that for as long as there are people who remember his premiership, the bitterness and hostility will remain.

    although I don’t find him very cringeworthy but I probably don’t cringe as easily as you.

    I don’t know what it is about him that makes me cringe so much, possibly the attempted pathos of his speeches and his arrogance, smugness, and smarminess. But then, these are hardly unique to him; they tend to afflict most politicians in various measure. Probably also, because of his record, I always think he’s lying or obfuscating, which doesn’t help my perception.

    13 May 2007, 03:00

  21. Sue

    I voted for his party and I feel disappointed rather than betrayed. I bought into his “Education, Education, Education” slogan and think there have been improvements but they are fairly minimal e.g. the average primary shool class size has been reduced from 27 to 26. I hoped he’d do more for the poor and unemployed but I now realize that my expectations were unrealistic. These things take time and hopefully Gordon Brown will continue the good work.

    It hasn’t been proven that Tony Blair has been untruthful. I don’t find him arrogant and after looking “obfuscating” up in the dictionary I certainly don’t agree with that description of him either, I think he speaks with clarity.

    13 May 2007, 15:53


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