Goodbye & Good Luck. Sorry.

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21st June 2012

(Updated 22nd June 2012)

FYI: blog post following is the last post, and those from previous 6 months or so, as at the blog formerly known as Keep Tony Blair For PM (no longer accessible.)

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As someone once said  “it’s hard to let go”, but needs must. I need to earn a living and this ‘hobby’ is life-consuming.

Many thanks to all who have followed this blog for the last (almost) 6 years. But, priorities, priorities. My twitter account will also be closing. My apologies in particular go to Shane & the rest of the faithful Blairites (of all parties and none) that I have had the good fortune to have met online.

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@DannyHackett: Where is Tony Blair? #assk” >Ask the expert 😉 >— @blairsupporter #topbloke We miss Blair

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It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday

I know it’s not quite a funeral. Forgive me if I admit it feels a bit like that.

Those of you still interested in watching what Tony Blair is up to could do no better than follow my good friend John Rentoul if you don’t already. Recent post of his here –  ‘I’ll have that on my gravestone: “Not far wrong”’

And JR will be reporting some more on Alastair Campbell’s book launch (The Burden of Power – of which I have a signed copy – thanks Alastair) at St Mary’s University last night, organised by The Mile End Group. (Video & transcript here)

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Alastair Campbell on Twitter and John Rentoul at same place – Mile End Group

The best of luck to you all.

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‘Tony Blair was right’ – Parts 2 & 3

All blog posts 2012 + Original, from 2006 to 2012

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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

All blog posts 2012 + Original, from 2006 to 2012

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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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Reminder. Hayman Island, 1995: ‘Blair’s New Left warning to Murdoch’

All blog posts 2012 + Original posts list: from 2006 to 2012

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25th April 2012

Guardian excerpt: ‘TONY BLAIR warned the high command of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire last night that the Thatcherite free-market policies they espoused in the 1980s had failed to provide the social and economic stability needed to manage the technological revolution they unleashed […] he made no discernible concessions to the Murdoch world view…’

Raised at Rupert Murdoch’s evidence session this morning at the Leveson Inquiry (which ended early today), it might be worth a reminder of Tony Blair’s Hayman Island speech in 1995 when he was in his first year as Labour party leader and two years away from his party’s first (1997) election win.

Copied below is the Guardian’s report from 1995. You may find it an interesting read. I have emboldened sections which stood out for me.

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BLAIR’S NEW LEFT WARNING TO MURDOCH

BYLINE: Michael White And Christopher Zinn

SECTION: THE GUARDIAN HOME PAGE; Pg. 3

TONY BLAIR warned the high command of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire last night that the Thatcherite free-market policies they espoused in the 1980s had failed to provide the social and economic stability needed to manage the technological revolution they unleashed.

In a bold pitch for the new Labour Party he is shaping, Mr Blair used the controversial platform provided by Mr Murdoch’s invitation to Australia to admit the failures of “the Old Left” – “rigid economic planning and state controls” – and to denounce the divisive legacy of the New Right.

Addressing News International’s senior executives at the exclusive Queensland resort of Hayman Island, he made no discernible concessions to the Murdoch world view other than to suggest that, in her assaults on vested interests, “Lady Thatcher was a radical, not a Tory”.

It is a view the avowedly anti-establishment tycoon purports to share. But Mr Blair, whose aides were presenting the speech as one of his most ambitious yet, insisted “the claim that New Left is just a fancy way of saying Tory is false. The left-of-centre will act to organise and prepare a country for change.

“The choice is not between resisting change and letting it happen; nor between the state trying to run industry and some crude version of laissez faire liberalism.”

Faced with “revolutionary change” – alongside the collapse of many traditional certainties about family, community and religion – the central question of modern democratic politics was how best to provide economic security and social stability within rules “accepted by society as a whole – and enforced”. He also defended Labour’s wary pro-Europeanism against the “insular nationalism” which papers like the Sun have promoted.

In a telling paraphrase of Bill Clinton’s campaign team slogan, he added: “It’s not just the economy, stupid. The task is to combine the preparation of a nation for economic change with the re -establishment of social order” – an immense task where the moral challenge would be as great as the economic one.

Many people who voted Tory in the 1980s were anti-Establishment and “saw part of the left as well as the right running that Establishment”. With a swipe at Oxbridge, the law, outdated parliamentary practice and a divided education system – of all of which he is a product – he complained that many Thatcherites had not wanted to bust, but to “buy out” the old regime.

He added: “The era of the grand ideologies, all encompassing, all pervasive, total in their solutions – and often dangerous – is over. In particular, the battle between market and public sector is over.”

Mr Blair who has been criticised for accepting Mr Murdoch’s invitation and offer of a free return flight, told reporters in Sydney: “We’re not here to flirt with anyone, we’re simply putting our case.

“It’s an important opportunity to address a very large news organisation and put the Labour Party’s case and the case of the left-of-centre the world over.” Before 200 Murdoch staff at the tropical hideaway he also conceded that Labour’s relations with News International’s papers have been poor in the past. “There have been changes on both sides. The past is behind us.”

Unhappiness about the direction of New Labour surfaced again yesterday in reports that key shadow ministers, like Robin Cook and David Blunkett, have attended meetings at the Commons of a group called What’s Left. All they were doing, they said last night, was explaining party policy to sceptics.

A Guardian report that Peter Mandelson MP is chairing a new policy revision group was explained. He was merely there to help “write sections of speeches and background papers for the party leader”. But, given the pace of change in Mr Blair’s first year, tensions are hardly surprising. He told the Murdoch conference that by “by the next election over half our members will have joined since the last election. It is literally a new party.”

His visit has received extensive publicity. Mr Blair said the government of Australia’s Labour Prime Minister, Paul Keating, had managed to ally economic sense and progress with strong social values.

“That combination of a fair society and a prosperous economy is one that’s devoutly to be wished by any, sensible, modern left-of-centre party.”

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Addendum: I notice that John Rentoul, my good friend, ally & member of WHF (‘we few, we happy few’) has also blogged on this under the headline – “Which Labour leader stood up to Murdoch?”

Ever keen to educate the biased & ignorant (my words, not his) John Rentoul has provided access to anyone to his extensive database. That means there is NO excuse whatsover for the information-hungry world and the rest of the press (!) to fail to refer to this in their attempts to “report” on what Mr Blair’s standing ovation (Rupert Murdoch’s words today) in Hayman Islands, were all about. 

JR:

“Partly, this is because Blair’s speech was given on the cusp of the new internet world, and no text of the speech or report of it is Googlable. Fortunately, as an archivist of Blair studies, I have a copy of the speech (which I have put on Google Docs as 14 single-page pdfs, because I don’t know how to do anything more user-friendly*) and, as a journalist, I have a subscription to a news database from which I have retrieved this Guardian report of the speech

[…]

*The last four pages (scans 0012-0015) are the most interesting.”

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Independent: Leveson Inquiry: Tony Blair impressed me, says Rupert Murdochl

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