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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Countdown for Tony Blair

The caption for Polly Toynbee's comments in The Guardian about Tony Blair's speech at Labour Party conference in Manchester on September 26th reads: "Charm and eloquence. But a missed chance" As the British Prime Minister begins preparations for his exit a year from now there can be no question about his 'charm and eloquence'.....and intellectual brillance. Qualities that are sadly missing in our current president. Yet, Mr. Blair's decision to become an unquestioning ally of President Bush in the war against Iraq is the primary reason for his loss of support and popularity both at home and abroad. The unfolding events in Iraq exposed facts that portrayed an unwholesome complicity by Blair.

I remember being in England shortly after the Labour Party came to power. On May 1, 1997, Tony Charles Lynton Blair (born May 6,1953) led the Labour Party to its biggest ever general election victory. The excitement and enthusiasm for change were palpable. After 11 years of Margaret Thatcher and the Tories, the British people wanted change. Mr. Blair didn't let them down -- not then. Although the lies and fabricated reports about Iraq were mostly concocted by the neocons in America, Mr. Blair emerged tarnished because of his role in championing them. It must hurt.

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, September 26, 2006

Yet they know why he must go, for his winning days are over. Many wished he had said goodbye right here, right now, sudden and decisive. These delegates have seen their Labour stronghold councils fall, long-time Labour cities lost, Wales and Scotland in peril, local parties near defunct for lack of members - all poisoned by Iraq and that wider mistrust it came to symbolise.

The greatest moments video to a handclapping hall left an ache of nostalgia for what 10 hard years in office has done to the man, to the party and probably to themselves.Can they recapture the spirit of the early days? Whatever Gordon Brown will be, he has no miracle elixir for the party's lost youth and innocence.

Full text of Blair's speech (BBC)

The Washington Post reported:

Blair, 53, recently said he would resign within a year. Pressure in his own party has been building for him to make way for a new leader. Since he became prime minister in 1997, his sky-high popularity ratings have plummeted because of domestic scandals, fatigue with a third-term government, his backing of the Iraq war and his closeness to President Bush.

But Blair won a sustained standing ovation after a televised address that seemed like the beginning of the country's goodbye to him. "Of course, it's hard to let go," he said. Many in the audience dabbed tears. One held a handwritten sign that said "Too Young to Retire."


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