TONY BLAIR - FROM SEPT 27th 2005 to JUNE 2007
and a few significant later entries - latest OCT 7th 2010

One thing became clear as one listened to this speech. Mr Blair understands politics. Of economics, he has not a clue. [Note inserted 2007 - this is now no longer true!]  His discussion of "choice", and how this must be equally available to all and that wealth should never make it more available, was only one indication that he does not grasp the role of currency in modern free economies, or the privilege of position in a totalitarian state. No matter which you choose, money or its hidden equivalent is what pays for choice. His triumphalism at the millions who visit our museums because they are free ignored the fact they are not free - the government (that's the state, that's UK citizens) will now have to pay for them, and its likely we won't, we would rather spend it on something daft like making infertile people fertile. The failure of measures to pacify Iraq has been due mainly to the ignorance of Blair and Bush in the field of fundamental economics (to be fair, neither our media commentators or other politicians have pointed this out). [Note added nearly 2 years later - they have now, they failed utterly at the time of the invasion when it was the vital issue as made clear in files on this web site. Throwing vast amounts of dollars around is not the same as building employment and infrastructure and proper security. The US has had its own money and its own weapons used against it and the rest of the coalition.]

Commentators noticed Gordon Brown smiling during the speech, no doubt because there was nothing to take seriously, nothing to upset him, and nothing to tie Gordon Brown to bogus economic theory.  I am sure Gordon had asked him not to get involved in economics in this speech and he was happy to comply. It was a brilliantly delivered load of cheer-up. On the subject of education, he referred to what he thought were the important ingredients, failing to mention the defective syllabus or the sad fact that many teachers haven't a clue about what they are teaching, let alone about what they are failing to teach, or that millions of children are absent, not listening or not in state schools at all.  It is on the matter of education for the underprivileged that he is completely at sea.

It was only on the subject of Globalization that Mr Blair seemed to have a grip on the economic realities, and that was reassuring; but with strange symmetry this was where he lost the plot politically, claiming that the future had no respect for our traditions, and that our values were what counted.. How wrong he is. The transmission of values depends very much on traditions. The key to the future is to understand those traditions, modernise them where required but preserve them where they are needed. Fundamentalism based on simplistic understanding linked to a historic period must be dumped, but tradition is something else.

The list of Labour achievements was however, not without merit. The PM opened with Northern Ireland where it is true they have not mishandled the situation and have made the best of it, following John Major. There have been many other good deeds, often opposed by the other parties. The PM is a brave and sincere man, he faces up to those matters that he can focus on. He is worth 10 of most of his critics, even if he has not been a good 'wartime PM' and keeps his distance from the military realities. This is probably a wise decision as he knows little about them, but then you need a strong Minister of Defence who is capable of looking after our armed forces, and he has been keeping his head down too. A country which does not support its troops and their mission puts us all at risk.

A Channel 4 correspondent this evening says:
"So, this dysfunctional partnership [between the Chancellor and the PM] will continue..."
I beg your dipshit's pardon, but which partnership between a PM and a Chancellor in any country,
if they are lucky enough to have equivalent posts, has been more functional?

Key phrase of the speech:
"Change-makers - that's what we are!"
That's another way of saying: "Nothing we have tried so far works - let's move on."


SEPT 26 2006
The conference so far has shown a party led by competent and genuine people. The PM's speech was impressive and authentic and showed that he is a man whose judgment is as good as it has always been, which is what is needed in a Prime Minister. His ability to put his thoughts into words is if anything improving. A hard act to follow, though collectively the party has some great talent. Of course the public is hopelessly divided on Blair because the situation facing all governments this decade is monstrously difficult. Those sectors of the population who are having a hard time are growing in number and blame all politicians. There are also many who think that the dangers we now face through taking action in foreign policy are greater than those if we had not. Little do they know. Rory Bremner is a great comedian but would be a disaster as PM. Does he know that, I wonder. Perhaps, and maybe that is why he chose his profession.

The media have all decided there are no other runners than Brown for the leadership. In fact there are others capable of leading the party and of beating Cameron and his party in an election (as is Brown), and another generation coming on. The Conservative Party is incoherent in parliament and in the country. The Liberal Democrats have sorted out some good green tax policies which they can get any government to adopt, adapt and use. So although the country faces serious challenges the Labour party does not unless it makes its own troubles. As long as it takes TB's advice and approach on Europe and America, and the cabinet seem united on that, disaster should be avoidable. GB is clearly capable of leading the party and the country, but so are others, so at some point there will be a vote on who takes the job.

TB has said he will now turn his attention fully to Palestine and its problems. That is essential.

SEPT 27 2006 - 1pm
Unbelievable. After being clearly told by the PM that this was his final farewell to the conference, some people are still yabbering on that he should stay on longer and others that he should leave sooner. Serious global and national problems would be better attended to if all these time-wasters were shut in a room together for the next few years with no contact with the outside world.

NOVEMBER 13 2006

Makes sense to me....

PM's world affairs speech to the Lord Mayor's banquet

13 November 2006

Tony Blair has set out the importance of Britain's partnership with both America and Europe.

He told guests at the Lord Mayor's Banquet that it would be the "surest route to the destruction of our true national interest" for Britain to give up either relationship, both of which are "precisely suited" to us.

Read the full transcript

Check against delivery

My Lord Mayor, My Late Lord Mayor, Your Grace, My Lord High Chancellor, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Chief Commoner, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Remembrance weekend took on a special poignancy this year.  No longer do we only look back, nostalgia mixed with emotion and pride, on the supreme sacrifices of two World Wars.  In this century, a new and unconventional enemy has appeared:  a global terrorism, based on a thoroughly warped misinterpretation of Islam, which is fanatical and deadly.  It was present for years but little noticed by us, before 9/11.  Since 9/11, it has cast its shadow over the Western world.

The bomb which killed British forces in Iraq yesterday was a cruel and wicked reminder that this terrorism is dedicated to one end:  to stop democracy flourishing in Arab and Moslem countries; to foster sectarian division; to drive out the possibility of reconciliation between people of different faiths.  In defiance of the wishes of the Government of Iraq, now elected, and of the UN which for over three years has supported that democratic process, they urge violence to eliminate hope.  In Basra, we are halfway through the army and police operation, which British forces are supporting, to put the proper authorities in charge of the city.  It is an operation that is succeeding.  The bomb was designed to stop it.  Do not countenance the myth that it is a protest about the so-called occupation of Basra by British forces.  On the contrary, the terrorists know the whole purpose of the operation we are conducting with the Iraqi forces is to allow Iraqis to take charge.

Once again we should reflect on the quite humbling courage of the British Armed Forces. They are remarkable people, making an extraordinary sacrifice.  They have our admiration.  And for the families of those that have fallen, we extend to them our most profound sympathy and condolences.

Both in respect of Iraq and Afghanistan this weekend we remembered those who have died.  But it is critical that we understand what links both struggles.  Of course, in each case there are very specific national factors at play.

But in the ideology and methods that are fuelling the violence in both countries, there is a common set of characteristics.  It is the same ideology, the same methods that have seen thousands die in acts of terrorism across the world.

In Iraq, the pressure from such terrorism has changed the nature of the battle.  Its purpose is now plain:  to provoke civil war.  The violence is not therefore an accident or a result of faulty planning.  It is a deliberate strategy.  It is the direct result of outside extremists teaming up with internal extremists - Al Qaida with the Sunni insurgents, Iranian backed Shia militia - to foment hatred and thus throttle at birth the possibility of non-sectarian democracy.  These external elements are, of course, the same elements driving extremism the world over.

This is crucial to our understanding of the right strategy to combat it.  The majority of Iraqis don't want this extremism - they showed that when they voted for an explicitly non-sectarian Government.  But the terrorists are trying to propel them towards it.

Just as the situation is evolving, so our strategy should evolve to meet it.

Inside Iraq we should empower the Iraqi leadership that wants to take responsibility - that knows that they, not us, must lead and win the fight against terrorism.  To do this, effectively, they need our support, politically, in their economy and for their armed forces.

However, most crucial is this.  Just as it is, in significant part, forces outside Iraq that are trying to create mayhem inside Iraq, so we have to have a strategy that pins them back, not only in Iraq but outside it too.  

In other words, a major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region where the same forces are at work, where the roots of this global terrorism are to be found, where the extremism flourishes, with a propaganda that may be, indeed is, totally false; but is, nonetheless, attractive to much of the Arab street.

That is what I call a "whole Middle East" strategy.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding that this is about changing policy on Syria and Iran.  First, those two countries do not at all share identical interests.  But in any event that is not where we start.

On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine.  That is the core.  We should then make progress on Lebanon.  We should unite all moderate Arab and Moslem voices behind a push for peace in those countries but also in Iraq.  We should be standing up for, empowering, respecting those with a moderate and modern view of the faith of Islam everywhere.

What is happening in the Middle East today is not complex.  It is simple.  Iran is being confronted over its nuclear weapons ambitions.  Its stock market has lost a third of its value in the last year and foreign credit is increasingly hard to come by.  The statements of its President - such as wiping Israel from the face of the earth - are causing alarm, even in Iran.

To be fair, they have a genuine, if entirely misplaced fear, that the US seeks a military solution in Iran.  They don't.  But we all want Iran to suspend its enrichment process which if allowed to continue, will give them a nuclear weapon.  Under the agreement we brokered in June, the US has said they will talk to Iran direct for the first time in 30 years, if they abide by the UN demand to suspend enrichment.  But Iran is refusing to do it.

Instead they are using the pressure points in the region to thwart us.  So they help the most extreme elements of Hamas in Palestine; Hizbollah in the Lebanon; Shia militia in Iraq.  That way, they put obstacles in the path to peace, paint us, as they did over the Israel/Lebanon conflict, as the aggressors, inflame the Arab street and create political turmoil in our democratic politics. 

It is a perfectly straightforward and clear strategy.  It will only be defeated by an equally clear one:  to relieve these pressure points one by one and then, from a position of strength to talk, in a way I described in July in my speech in Los Angeles:  offer Iran a clear strategic choice:  they help the MEPP not hinder it; they stop supporting terrorism in Lebanon or Iraq; and they abide by, not flout, their international obligations.  In that case, a new partnership is possible.  Or alternatively they face the consequences of not doing so:  isolation. 

The basic point I come back to, again and again and which I have made many times here - is that whether in Iraq, or Afghanistan or indeed combating terrorism here, these battles are inextricably bound together. It is a global issue.  It needs a global response.

Which brings me to the principal consideration of Britain's foreign policy over the past 10 years.  Global challenges can only be met by global alliances.  A nation like Britain has no prospect - none - in the world as it is developing today, of pursuing its national interest except in close concert with others.  That is why, no matter how tough the test, and these past years since 9/11 have shown how tough it can be - the alliances Britain has with America and within Europe, must remain the cornerstones of our policy. 

Do not misunderstand me.  I support the US willingly.  I believe in the EU for reasons of principle.  I supported the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq because I believed them right.  I have put Britain at the centre of Europe because I am proud that we are part of the largest political union and biggest economic market in the world.  For me these alliances have never been a struggle between individual conscience and duty to my country.  It is a happy marriage of conviction and realpolitik. 

But just for a moment, leave aside the obvious and deep-rooted ties of history with America.  Leave aside the fact that only, together, when the US finally entered WWII, were we able to succeed.  Leave aside the prospect of Britain facing the Cold War for half a century without the transatlantic alliance, an absurd thought.  Leave it all aside and focus on today and the future.

Take any problem Britain wants solving:  global terrorism - (assuming you don't believe that but for George Bush it wouldn't exist); climate change; Israel/Palestine; Iran and North Korea's nuclear programme; world trade; Africa in general, right now Sudan in particular; global poverty.  We may agree or disagree with the US position on some or all of these issues.  But none of these vital British concerns can be addressed, let alone solved, without America.  Without America, Kosovo could not have been attempted.  Without Kosovo, Milosevic might still be running Serbia; and the Balkans rather than stabilising with a potential future in Europe, would have remained the destabilising force it was for most of the 20th Century.   We need America.  That is a fact.

All that, in a sense, is obvious.  But - runs the more sophisticated argument -:  America we like, this American President we don't.  This is a comforting argument.  It separates anti-America from anti-Bush.  However it is also a cop-out.  Let us not kid ourselves.  9/11 would have changed any American President's foreign policy.  3000 innocent people dead in the streets of New York; the Al Qaida operatives who did it, trained out of Afghanistan.  Following 9/11, American policy was going to shift.  It was going to get out after the terrorists with all America's might and any President who didn't do it, wasn't going to be President for long.

When I said, after 9/11 that we should stand shoulder to shoulder with America, I said it because I believed it.  But I also thought it was profoundly in Britain's interests.  I knew this attack wasn't aimed at America per se; but at America as the leading representative of our values.  Look round the world today; look even just within Europe.  Britain is not the only country that faces a terrorist threat.  We all do, allies and non-allies, anyone in fact that isn't "them".  I thought then and I think now that defeating this threat - whose roots are deep and have been a long time growing - was going to take a generation; and I knew then and know now that defeating it, was never going to be done without an America prepared to lead as America, to its credit, has.

And the truth is, for Britain, it is always right for us to keep our partnership with America strong. 

Post 9/11, there were no half-hearted allies of America.  There were allies and others.  We were allies then and that's how we should stay; and the test of any alliance, I'm afraid, is not when it's easy but when it's tough.

Most bizarrely, there is a significant section of British opinion today that wants us both distant from America and from the EU.  Some Prime Ministers, when they actually have to deal with what can be a maddening process in Europe, become disillusioned with the whole thing.  Not me.  I can't see a single good reason for Britain not being at the centre of Europe and every good reason why it should be.  Europe gives us weight and strength.  In fact, in my view, Europe should be far more confident about its potential.  Provided it eschews grand institutional visions and concentrates on grand practical visions - for prosperity, in energy, fighting crime, in developing defence capability - it has a huge, even exciting future.  Enlargement has been remarkable.  And on all these issues Britain has been in a clear leadership position.  We should rejoice in it.

These alliances will become more not less crucial.

We all welcome the benign economic and political development of China.  But its force is one to be reckoned with.  All of us too can see how Russia has emerged under President Putin as a stronger, more confident nation.  But it also knows it is a major power and we rely on its energy resources.  India is making extraordinary strides in every way.  But it, like China, will be a nation more than twice the size, in population, of the whole of Europe.

Let me put this delicately but firmly.  The world is changing.  New powers are emerging.  In the decades to come there will be many international negotiations, debates, occasionally, if only in a diplomatic sense, confrontations.  Britain in this early 21st Century world is a country with extraordinary strengths.  It is well and justifiably respected.  But it is also a country of 60 million people whose geography could fit neatly into a corner of Alaska.  We will need collective strength in the years ahead.  That strength is infinitely easier to generate, and more to our liking, if based on alliances with nations that share our values.  For that reason, our partnership with America and our membership of the EU are precisely suited to Britain.  For that reason, it would be insane, - yes I would put it as strongly as that - for us to give up either relationship.  For that reason anti-Americanism or Euroscepticism are not merely foolish they are the surest route to the destruction of our true national interest. 

Both alliances are founded in history.  Both are, however, now, at this point, utterly validated by the future.  These are no misty-eyed products of sentiment, relics of a bygone age to be taken out and cradled fondly.  They are the vital life source of British power, influence and weight in the new global community taking shape around us.  To nurture and enhance them is not vain glory.  It is the most hard-headed realism.  Lose them - and alliances are like all living things, neglect them and they die - and we will spend a long time struggling to revive what's gone.  When people say:  yes, but we want a "British" foreign policy, I say:  of course we do, but in today's world a foreign policy based on strong alliances, is the only "British" policy which works.

NOVEMBER 30th 2006                  I agree fully with Matthew Taylor's views below. That is not to say that the web should be censored.
                                                        It does mean that it is putting the country and the world and politicians to a terrible test, but that is
                                                        probably the only way the public, civil servants and politicians can be made to face certain facts,
                                                        as few of them are living in the real, wide world.
Web 'fuelling crisis in politics'
By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter, BBC News

Tony Blair's outgoing chief strategy adviser fears the Internet could be fuelling a "crisis" in the relationship between politicians and voters.

Matthew Taylor - who stressed he was speaking as a "citizen" not a government spokesman - said the web could be "fantastic" for democracy.

But it was too often used to encourage the "shrill discourse of demands" that dominated modern politics.

He was speaking on the day Mr Blair carried out an online interview.

Mr Taylor said Mr Blair's online grilling from voters - and other initiatives such as environment secretary David Miliband's blog and Downing Street's new online petition service - showed the government was making good progress in using the Internet to become more open and accountable.

But he said more needed to be done by the web community in general to encourage people to use the Internet to "solve problems" rather than simply abuse politicians or make "incommensurate" demands on them.


Speaking at an e-democracy conference in central London, he said modern politics was all about "quality of life" and that voters had a "very complex set of needs".

The Internet has immense potential but we face a real problem if the main way in which that potential expresses itself is through allowing citizens to participate in a shrill discourse of demands
Matthew Taylor

The end of deference, the rapid pace of social change and growing diversity were all good things, he argued, but they also meant governments found it increasingly difficult to govern.

"We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government," Mr Taylor told the audience.

Like "teenagers", people were demanding, but "conflicted" about what they actually wanted, he argued.

They wanted "sustainability", for example, but not higher fuel prices, affordable homes for their children but not new housing developments in their town or village.

'Impoverished relationship'

But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or "mendacious" by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage".

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that "leaders are out there to shaft you".

He went on: "At a time at which we need a richer relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had, to confront the shared challenges we face, arguably we have a more impoverished relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had.

"It seems to me this is something which is worth calling a crisis."


The Internet, he told the conference, was part of that "crisis".

"The Internet has immense potential but we face a real problem if the main way in which that potential expresses itself is through allowing citizens to participate in a shrill discourse of demands.

"If you look at the way in which citizens are using technology and the way that is growing up, there are worrying signs that that is the case.

"What is the big breakthrough, in terms of politics, on the web in the last few years? It's basically blogs which are, generally speaking, hostile and, generally speaking, basically see their job as every day exposing how venal, stupid, mendacious politicians are.

"The Internet is being used as a tool of mobilisation, which is fantastic, but it only adds to the growing, incommensurate nature of the demands being made on government."

He challenged the online community to provide more opportunities for "people to try to understand the real trade-offs that politicians face and the real dilemmas that citizens face".


"I want people to have more power, but I want them to have more power in the context of a more mature discourse about the responsibilities of government and the responsibilities of citizens," Mr Taylor told delegates.

Part of the problem, he added, was the "net-head" culture itself, which was rooted in libertarianism and "anti-establishment" attitudes.

He told delegates: "You have to be part of changing that culture. It's important for people who understand technology, to move from that frame of mind, which is about attacking the establishment into one which is about problem-solving and social enterprise."

Technology should be used to encourage elected representatives to communicate better with voters, he told delegates.

Government also needed to "develop new forms of consultation and engagement that are deliberative in their form and trust citizens to get to the heart of the difficult trade-offs involved."

And there should be more effort to make communities "work together to solve problems," said Mr Taylor.

Mr Taylor is Tony Blair's chief adviser on political strategy and the former head of the centre left think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).

He is leaving Downing Street next week, after three years, to become the chief executive of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts (RSA).