Tony Blair to Germany: Stand by euro. To Cameron: Get in there

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14th June 2012

The FT’s Lionel Barber has this very interesting article from The Man, in Jerusalem –

Blair calls on Germany to stand by euro

Tony Blair has delivered a stark warning of a popular backlash against austerity policies in the euro-zone ahead of this Sunday’s re-run election in Greece.

“You look at what the Greeks are being asked to accept: it’s beyond tough,” Mr Blair said in an interview with the Financial Times in Jerusalem.

The former long-standing UK prime minister, a self-professed pro-European, said the risk of unrest applied to Europe as a whole. “In the end, what people will ask is: ‘Is the single currency worth it if that’s what we’re being asked to accept’.”

Mr Blair’s said the remedy should be a “grand bargain” between Germany and the rest of Europe to rescue the single currency. This would involve a pooling of European debt and a new push for growth, matched by deficit reduction through pension and welfare reforms.

[…]

He added that the euro would survive in some form even if the present 17-member set-up collapsed. The euro was central to Europe’s ambitions to be a power on the world stage: “I have no doubt that the single currency makes sense.”

Mr Blair steered clear of directly endorsing a European-wide banking union, as proposed by José Manuel Barroso, European commission president. But he made clear that Britain had to play an active role in negotiations on the next phase of European integration, even though he refuse to say whether this would involve a referendum.

“I am not going to criticise the prime minister…But If Britain were absent, we would be opting out of an incredibly important decision. The important thing is this: Britain has got to put itself in a position where it can play a part in what will be a reconstruction of Europe.”

Mr Blair’s proposals will cause unease in the UK coalition government where Conservatives are loath to sign up to an economic union. The government says it is opposed to making British taxpayers liable for recapitalising eurozone banks or putting major British banks under the watch of an EU authority.

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When the Queen met President Bashar al-Assad

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13th June 2012

It’s been a big week or several for Her Majesty the Queen. Ditto Bashar Assad, so-called leader of the Syrian people. But have they ever met? Well, yes, as it happens.

Excerpt from “President Assad meets Queen”

‘Syrian president Bashar Assad was meeting the Queen today, after publicly rebuffing a call from Tony Blair to shut down Palestinian terror organisations operating in his country.’

No date is given but clearly it is in regard to the December 2002 visit of the Assads to Britain.

In December 2002, President Assad & his wife Asma met the Queen in London

This topical Assad/Queen reference is here for the same reason that other things are; to balance the record.

Right from the start of Assad Junior’s rule Tony Blair was down on him with demands, expectations, hopes (all of which were to be denied) that we now had a Middle East ally who KNEW how terror-led were many of the regimes in that region. He had already been rebuffed by Assad and to the joy of our press (even though we were pre-Iraq war) humiliated publicly, as recorded here by Alastair Campbell)

Tony Blair with President Assad, & their wives in London, 2002

But don’t ever be led to believe that Tony Blair did not feel concerned that Assad was just as likely to turn out a bad un as had his father. And whatever you do, don’t expect the Daily Mail to remind you. They are scouring the internet right now to try to find the two locked in a Gaddafi-type embrace to prove whatever….

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As at Daily Mail

President Assad meets Queen

Syrian president Bashar Assad was meeting the Queen today, after publicly rebuffing a call from Tony Blair to shut down Palestinian terror organisations operating in his country.

Following an audience with the Queen, on day three of his visit to Britain, Mr Assad was meeting the Prince of Wales as well as opposition leaders Iain Duncan Smith and Charles Kennedy.

After talks with the Prime Minister in Downing Street yesterday, Mr Assad insisted that there were no Palestinian terrorists in Syria – simply “press officers”.

“Of course we don’t have in Syria what are called organisations supporting terrorism. We have press officers,” he told a joint news conference.

“These press officers represent Palestinians who live in Syria and Palestinians who live in Palestine.

“These officers express the opinions of Palestinians inside Palestine and outside Palestine. Palestinians have a right to have someone to express their opinion.

“In our country they are called press officers. They are not called terrorist organisations.”

Earlier Foreign Office Minister Mike O’Brien had expressed the Government’s concern at continuing the presence in Syria of offices of “rejectionist” groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

But despite the disagreement on the issue of the Palestinian groups, the talks appeared to have gone more smoothly than Mr Blair’s visit to Damascus last year when he was harangued by Mr Assad over the Middle East peace process.

Mr Assad, on his first official visit to Britain, said that they had agreed on most “basic issues” and spoke of his “warm personal relations” with Mr Blair.

The Prime Minister acknowledged there had been “obvious and clear” differences between them, but said that the “process of engagement” with Syria was “the right way forward”.

On Iraq, Mr Assad, who opposes military intervention, said that so far there appeared to have been “good co-operation” from the Iraqis with the United Nations weapons inspectors.

He said he was “optimistic” that conflict could be averted.

“We hope this co-operation will continue until this crisis is resolved peacefully,” he said.

Mr Blair said British officials were still studying Iraq’s declaration of its remaining weapons of mass destruction programmes which was submitted to the UN on December 7 and awaiting the report of the chief weapons inspector Hans Blix.

“The inspectors should be allowed to carry out their work. We have made it clear that if there is a breach (of the UN resolution), then action should follow,” he said.

In the Commons later Mr Blair announced that he had invited leading Palestinians to London next month to discuss reform of the Palestinian Authority.

The aim is to ensure that if American-brokered peace talks do achieve a breakthrough, the Palestinian Authority will be sufficiently strengthened to take on its allotted role.

“It is in the interests of both the Palestinians and Israelis that these reform efforts succeed, so that we can make a reality of President Bush’s vision of two states – Israel and Palestine -living side by side in peace and security,” he said.

Representatives of the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia will also attend the talks along with officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

The exact date and venue for the meeting – which will be chaired by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw – have yet to be decided.

Mr Straw said the meeting with leading Palestinians in London next month would be “medium level” but “a step in the right direction”.

He told Channel 4 News: “There are some obvious practical difficulties, to put it mildly, about all the leadership of the Palestinians coming to London.

“But we nonetheless think that this is a useful contribution to a process of reform of the Palestinian Authority, of Palestinian institutions, which is essential, first of all to improve the conditions of the Palestinians at present.

“When there is a ceasefire and a better future for the Palestinians as there will have to be, then improvements in their institutions will be of paramount importance to delivering to the Palestinian people the new expectations for their future which will have been generated.”

Mr Straw said there was no pretence that Britain saw eye to eye with Syria on everything, but added: “As a result of the kind of active diplomacy … in which we have been engaged with Syria, we are much closer together and there’s a much better common understanding.”

Read more

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So there we have it. We can but try with such as Assad, as we did with Gaddafi. Once they start killing their own people they must know they’re on their own.

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‘Tony Blair was right’ – Parts 2 & 3

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13th June 2012

A superfluity of “rightness”

First I noticed this from my friend John Rentoul on twitter:  Hugo Rifkind – “Gordon Brown’s brazen mangling of opinion and fact” or, to get to my point “Things Tony Blair Was Right About”

I used it here yesterday – quote: “the ones he was right about … academies, civil partnerships, the NHS. I shan’t go on because it upsets me, but on Monday it happened again. Because Blair was also right, I now realise, about the failings of the British press. And Brown isn’t.’

But these right things just keep pouring in.

There was this on 7th June Tony Blair was right (Btw, he certainly “meant to”!)

‘Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry, Tony Blair said something quite prescient, though he might not have meant to. “You can’t disagree with anyone in politics now… and the environment in which media and politicians now work is more raw, brutal and crude in terms of interaction.” His sentiments were perfectly emphasised by someone who, of all things, would like least to support an argument made by Blair – David Lawley-Wakelin, the anti-war protestor who breached security at the court and accused the former Prime Minister of war crimes.

Lawley-Wakelin’s tirade epitomises exactly what Blair was talking about – that we can’t simply disagree with the decisions our representatives make, now we have to demonise them. Blair was focusing on what Lord Leveson called the “fusion of news and comment” in the media, but the increasingly polarised nature of British politics has been spilling over into the public arena of protest for some time now.’

And on 10th June there was this referring to Jeremy Vine’s encounter with Tony Blair in 1997, here

Vine was replying to this question:

You worked as a Westminster correspondent for a long time. And you were on the Blair battle-bus in 1997, weren’t you?

‘I interviewed Tony Blair five or six times, but it’s off-air conversations that matter. Once, on the bus, he said: “I like tea” and I said: “I like tea, too” and then he said something like: “I hear you’re a Christian, Jeremy” and I said: “I’m just struggling, you know” and he said: “It’s the most important thing in my life.” And then I said: “Don’t you feel that actually the big stuff like what you’re going to do when you get into power is much less important than the small stuff, which is how you treat your next-door neighbour?” I realised that was a bad analogy because his neighbour was Gordon Brown. But he said: “I completely agree.”‘

Tony Blair, therefore, was also right about another thing: his deeply held religious belief.  It didn’t just manifest itself as a convenient ‘purge to his conscience‘ after Iraq.

Right?

Right.

Any more for any more?

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Related

Tony Blair Faith Foundation

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“Things Tony Blair Was Right About”, by Hugo Rifkind

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12th June 2012

OK, Blogger’s Rights (while they last) means I have adjusted this title somewhat. But let’s be blunt, I am not mingling opinion and fact. This is what the writer Hugo Rifkind thinks.

‘Gordon Brown’s brazen mangling of opinion and fact’ (source)

  • by: HUGO RIFKIND, From: The Times,  June 13, 2012 12:00AM (that’s tomorrow to we Brits.)

‘ON Monday I had a distressing experience. It consisted of listening to Gordon Brown address the Leveson Inquiry and having to add yet another item to the mental folder I keep in my skull entitled “Things Tony Blair Was Right About”.

I’m not proud of it. I wasn’t concentrating in my twenties, but I don’t remember ever voting for Blair. The one political event on which I managed to work up a passion, indeed, was The Big Thing Tony Blair Was Wrong About. And yet, too often, now I am concentrating, these things – the ones he was right about – crop up: academies, civil partnerships, the NHS. I shan’t go on because it upsets me, but on Monday it happened again. Because Blair was also right, I now realise, about the failings of the British press. And Brown isn’t.’

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To Mr Rifkind: it may take some time yet, but as we watch Syria descend into chaos, untroubled by the rest of us and particularly by the UN (Useless Nations), you may well come to wonder if intervention is a better option. In my humble opinion, Tony Blair was right about that too.

My thanks for the heads-up to fellow tweeting member of WFWHF (We Few, We Happy Few [Blair supporters]), John Rentoul

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Related:

Brown denies bid to grab No 10 job from Blair at Leveson Inquiry – In your dreams.

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Dying for a smoke?

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12th June 2012

A view none of us, smokers or not, is ever likely to see. Hopefully!

This is a ceiling mural in a Smokers’ Lounge.

PUBLIC TOILET

A public toilet in Houston from the outside

Now that you’ve seen the outside view, take a look at the inside view…


It’s made entirely of one-way glass! No one can see you from the outside, but when you are inside it’s like sitting in a clear glass box! Now would you… COULD YOU….???
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A PAINTED BATHROOM FLOOR

Tenth floor of a high-rise building… IMAGINE YOU ARE AT A PARTY … AND THEN YOU HAVE TO VISIT THE BATHROOM… You open the door…

NOW, REMEMBER THE FLOOR IS JUST A PAINTED FLOOR ! (scroll down)

IT TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY, DOESN’T IT?

Would this mess up your mind? Would you be able to walk into this room?

That reminds me. Back to Leveson.

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Livingstone said: “I never voted for New Labour. I never voted for Tony Blair”!? Expel KEN now!

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12th June 2012

Livingstone: “If I was you, and I really wanted to do something about it, go and bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair for war crimes, devote your life to that.”

Noticing earlier on Twitter that it is being mooted within the Labour party to expel Dan Hodges for, allegedly, urging Labour voters not to vote for Ken Livingstone in May’s Mayoral London election, I thought I’d dig around for the video of His Livingstoneship.  I recalled he had been urging other Old Labourites daft enough to applaud him to devote their lives to bringing “a private prosecution against Tony Blair”, for whom, by the way, he also tells them he had never voted. Blair and his awful (three times winning) New Labour were not fit for His Saintedness’s cross.

The video was on YouTube not that long ago. As if by magic it is no longer there!

But I managed to find this article written by Dan Hodges himself and in it the audio of the awful Livingstone. Clearly, the one for overdue expulsion is Ken Livingstone.

Boot that traitor out.

Audio (sound not so good): Ken Livingstone “go and bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair”

Dan Hodges’ Telegraph article of November 18th 2011:

Ken Livingstone on Tony Blair and New Labour: ‘Go and bring a private prosecution against him for war crimes’

Let’s be honest. One or two of us harbour doubts about Ken Livingstone.

It’s a skepticism that crosses the political divide. According to the polls, 20 per cent of London Labour voters are planning to back the banker-loving Bullingdon brawler Boris Johnson over the newt-loving champion of the working man.

This gross disloyalty rankles with many on the Left. “Just whose side are they on?”, demanded the influential (-ish) website “Left Futures” last month, in a swipe at those who dared suggest their hero may not be a shoo-in for the mayoralty.

Whatever your doubts, they say, Ken is our man. A Labour man. He has a right to our support. The trouble is, has anyone told Ken that?

On Monday Labour’s mayoral candidate attended one of his regular Tell Ken events in Lewisham. What, he was asked, was wrong with New Labour. Labour Ken couldn’t resist. He said:

The gentleman asked what’s wrong with 13 years of New Labour? Well I never voted for New Labour. I never voted for Tony Blair and I stood against his awful government as an independent and… why I withdraw as the official Labour candidate. And I opposed the war in Iraq. I took the last Labour government to court five times and I fought them when I thought they weren’t doing things in London’s interest.

Just for good measure Ken then dabbled in a bit of international jurisprudence.

If I was you, and I really wanted to do something about it, go and bring a private prosecution against Tony Blair for war crimes, devote your life to that.

Tactically, this latest outburst is quite astute. Ken recognizes Boris Johnson’s success in defining himself as the maverick who will stand up to the Government, and knock down David Cameron, if it’s what it takes to get the best deal for Londoners. And his call for Tony Blair to dragged to the Hague in leg irons is an unashamedly brazen effort to recapture the luster of his own glorious days of middle age rebellion.

But the glee with which he attacks the previous “awful” Labour government is instructive. The 20 per cent are watching. And waiting.

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Twitter link for Dan Hodges,  @DPJHodges, Blogger for the Telegraph, Total Politics, Former Commissioning Editor of Labour Uncut, neo-Blairite. Painfully unpragmatic.

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Gordon Brown at Leveson. Did he lie under oath? If so, Lord Justice Leveson, Sir…?

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11th June 2012

From a tweep:

Stephen Bush@stephenkb

Wait, Gordon Brown didn’t plot to remove Blair? So TB remained in office and Labour won the 2010 election? Well, that’s good news. #leveson

Yes, if only.

If I were a disinterested observer of Mr Brown, I’d have applauded some, perhaps most of what he said today at Leveson. Very few of us could fail to sympathise with how the Sun treated him and his family over his son’s illness. Few of us can really believe that they would have gladly given permission for his condition to be broadcast to the world at a time when it seems they hadn’t told many in their own family. It is clear that either he lied or Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brookes did.

The thought does cross my mind as to why Paul Dacre’s paper The Daily Mail also used this story. Since they were such good friends, couldn’t Dacre have rung Gordon to check if he was happy about it?

Who leaked on Fraser Brown’s cystic fibrosis?

“We now accept that it is highly likely that, sometime in 2006, a member of staff in NHS Fife spoke, without authorisation, about the medical condition of Mr Brown’s son, Fraser.” 

One up to Mr Brown.

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Of course that is not the only issue over which Mr Brown is accused of being illiberal with the verity.

He also denied “declaring war” on Rupert Murdoch. And Murdoch stands by his story. So far, so many more (possibly) guilty of perjury?

According to Guido Fawkes, at the Leveson inquiry today Gordon Brown “lied and lied and lied”. He quotes others’ tweets on this. I won’t pretend I am always happy with Guido’s site. But he is invariably quick off the mark and clearly has his ‘sources’.  It’s just such a pity that his right-wing commenters are unutterably lowlife. Never mind censoring the media. Censor the ignorant, ranting, half-sane commenters.

Here’s Guido choice tweeps on this:

He Lied and Lied and Lied

overheard at RCJ veteran hack: either the police or men in white coats should be waiting for GB when he finishes.

Were his aides involved in trying to force Blair out. ‘I would hope not’. Did he say they could ‘No.’ Does he know he is on oath?

Gordon Brown’s comments on the activities of his press aides are prompting gasps of incredulity in the parliamentary lobby.

Wow. He ‘didn’t know’ about the September ’06 plot. Wow. My ghast is well and truly flabbered

No one on the Lobby corridor is even laughing at this display of disingenuous nonsense. The only sound is jaws hitting the floor

“We cannot learn the lessons about the media unless there is some honesty involved”. Well quite.

What will James Gordon Brown’s father think? Ex PM swore on bible to tell truth

One is forced to conclude GB has a problem facing reality.

Guilty, m’Lord.

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