Tag Archives: tony blair

What were you doing 20 years ago today?

Some of you reading this won’t even have been born in 1997, or have been too young to take part in the General Election that year.

20 years ago today was a blistering hot day in Chesterfield. I was knocking up all over town.

I had spent most of the campaign doing front of house in our brilliant little office which was happily situated right next door to a pretty decent Italian restaurant. Several times we ordered food from them and they brought it across on proper plates, with real cutlery. A total luxury for an election office.

We had been working hard to get Tony Rogers elected in Chesterfield. Over the previous few years, we had really been challenging the local Labour hegemony, winning by-election after by-election. While New Labour were very much ahead in the polls, it was very much Old Labour who ran the Derbyshire town.

It was such brilliant fun. Very busy, of course. Paul Holmes as agent is never one to under-estimate anyone’s capacity for work. Legend had it that he took envelopes to stuff to a woman in the early stages of labour. He says he can’t remember doing such a thing, but nobody who knows him seems to have much trouble believing it. There was one time during the European campaign in 1994 when he decided that sorting out a million election addresses wasn’t enough work for us to do and he got us all stuffing envelopes for a by-election in Bradford South too.

He certainly liked to challenge us. You’d be in the middle of doing something and he’d come along with some mailing that needed to go out by the last posting time which was impossibly close. And we always stepped up and did it. We called him lots of names in the process, always to his face and he bore that with good humour.

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Farron to Blair’s 1997 voters: Things can only get better with the Lib Dems

On the eve of the 20th anniversary (how on earth did that happen?) of Tony Blair’s first election victory in 1997, Tim Farron has made an appeal to those who voted for Blair to choose the Liberal Democrats this time, saying that the Blair anthem of old now applies to the Lib Dems:

1997 shows what can happen when a party is prepared to make a broad appeal to change Britain’s future for the better.  My message on the eve of that anniversary is this: ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ – but this time with the Liberal Democrats. Back us and change Britain’s future.

I am urging those voters, those people who backed Labour in 1997, to come and vote for the Liberal Democrats.

Labour have comprehensively failed to stand up for our schools, hospitals and our place in the world.

They have become too weak, and too divided, to stand up for those who need it most.

Power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile.

This election is a chance to change the direction of our country, those people who crossed the Labour box twenty years ago should vote for the Liberal Democrats.

It’s interesting that he didn’t even explicitly mention Brexit once – one of the few press releases where it is omitted. The people who gave Blair power would have voted overwhelmingly to Remain.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 7 Comments

Tony Blair advises voters to consider supporting the Lib Dems or Tories

The Independent reports:

Tony Blair has advised those going to the polls to consider voting for the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats in order to weaken the Prime Minister’s mandate for a hard Brexit.

The former Prime Minister said it was important to vote for candidates who had an “open mind” on the final deal and that people should not limit their votes to just Labour because the issue was “bigger than party allegiance”.

…Speaking on Sunday on the BBC’s The World This Weekend programme he said: “The absolutely central question at this general election is less who is the prime minister on 9 June, and more what is the nature of the mandate.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 8 Comments

Clegg: People don’t vote for economic self-harm

Nick Clegg talked this morning with Robert Peston about Brexit and the Richmond Park by-election. Here’s a transcript of the interview:

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101 uses for Tony Blair?

Tony Blair says he is considering ways in which he may be of use in returning to UK public life, as reported in an interview write-up in Esquire magazine.

Perhaps he needs our help to suggest ways he could be of use to the public and UK politics in general?

Posted in Humour | 14 Comments

Norman Baker calls for Tony Blair to be “impeached”

Former Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker has called for Tony Blair to be impeached over his conduct in the run-up to the Iraq War.

Baker told the Argus:

“We have had to wait a long time for this and there is a sense that justice delayed is justice denied.

“Tony Blair is in terrible self denial. Saying the evidence wasn’t sexed up can only be trying to keep his spirits up. You almost feel sorry for him.

“He should just admit he was wrong and move on.

“I would like him to be impeached and made to defend himself because he has done so much wrong. “

Mr Baker said he knew that the inquiry would not re-examine the death of weapons inspector David Kelly – having discussed the remit of the report with John Chilcot several years ago.

Mr Baker published his own dossier of evidence which he believes casts doubt on the Hutton Inquiry’s key conclusion that Dr Kelly killed himself in 2003.

So what is all this impeachment about?

The Parliament website explains:

Impeachment was a means by which Parliament could prosecute and try individuals, normally holders of public office, for high treason or other crimes and misdemeanours. The impeachment process was invented prior to the creation of popular political parties and the establishment of the conventions of collective and individual ministerial responsibility. When impeachment was used, for example in the 16th and 17th century, it represented the only means by which Parliament could dismiss an individual holding office under the Crown.

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A PM fails this country and destroys another, yet faces no action. Where’s the accountability in that?

I’m watching an at times close to tears Tony Blair giving his response to the Chilcot Report.

He asks us to accept that he took the decision to go to war in good faith. I’m not sure that was ever actually in doubt. Charles Kennedy, in disagreeing with him in the House of Commons during the March 2003 Commons debate, did not doubt the sincerity of his position.

However, Blair’s comments, and all the regret he may feel, cannot make up for what the report makes clear was a very flawed decision making process, with insufficient planning for the aftermath, putting British forces in added danger as they were fighting on two fronts (Iraq and Afghanistan) and weren’t given the resources to do their jobs and that the process establishing whether the decision was even legal was flawed.

The “with you, whatever” memo is not quite damning as it seems. If you read the whole thing, Blair is actually trying to steer the US President down a path of forming an international coalition and pointing out the consequences of not doing so. The problem with the memo as Chilcot says is that he sent a fairly detailed exposition of the UK Government’s position without even asking the Foreign and Defence Secretaries to comment. However, I am less convinced that Straw or Hoon would have changed anything, but that’s just a personal opinion. Also, using loose language like “with you, whatever” is at best not advisable. At worst it shows a contempt for Parliament and the decision making process in Government.

I have never been one of those people who has thought that Tony Blair should be tried as a war criminal. To suggest such a thing, that there is some equivalence between him and the likes of Radovan Karadzic, sentenced earlier this year for his part in the Bosnian genocide is to my mind inappropriate. The errors of Blair and his Government were not of brutality but of folly, negligence and incompetence.

Those were pretty major errors but nobody involved is actually going to face any consequences for that. How can that be? If Blair were still in office, he would have to resign in disgrace. A decade on, he enjoys a privileged and comfortable life with an international career.

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 16 Comments
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    Tweaked always the pessimist
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