Tag Archives: tony blair

Tony Blair bestrides the globe while the UK goes “la la la – not listening”

It seems that shortly after attending the Remembrance Sunday parade at London’s Cenotaph, former Prime Minister Tony Blair hopped on a plane for The Gambia. On Tuesday, he popped up there to meet the country’s President, Adama Barrow at his office (above) and then have dinner with him at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa in Serrekunda. (A night in the Presidential suite there would set you back £1870). Globe-trotting Tony Blair also met Mr Barrow back in April, shortly after the latter had been elected President, replacing the tyrannical Yayha Jammeh.

Tony Blair has recently had many high level meetings with African leaders. Back in July he was in Kaduna, Nigeria and Togo. He’s been to Ghana. This month he was also in Cote d’Ivoire. There he met the Energy Minister, the Education Minister and the Prime Minister.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Blair’s other legacy

It is inevitable given that it became the issue that defined his premiership – the failed invasion of Iraq will be seen as Blair’s great legacy.

He got plenty of other things wrong too, but for all his words about a progressive majority, his inaction on electoral reform paved the way for majority right wing government.

Had he been brave enough to face down the conservative forces in his own party we could have seen the 1999 Jenkins commission proposals implemented.

He wasn’t.

In his excellent autobiography, Ming Campbell recalls his wife Elspeth whispering to Blair at John Smith’s funeral, ‘Don’t Forget The Liberals’. ‘I won’t’ was the response.

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Telegraph reports Farron email 24 days after we did

Interesting story in today’s Telegraph about a fundraising letter from Tim Farron to combat Tony Blair’s £1000 donations to Labour’s target seats.

Interesting, but old.

We told you about this way back on 5th March.

LDV Blair post

 

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Farron seeks £20k for Lib Dem campaigns to match Tony Blair’s donation to Labour

Tony Blair“Rich Labour Member gives £100k to Labour” is not the biggest surprise in the whole world. When it’s Tony Blair, though, and he’s giving £20k to campaigns against Liberal Democrat MPs who stood up against his catastrophic intervention in Iraq, that will set Liberal Democrat blood boiling.

At least that’s what Tim Farron hopes.

He’s sending an email to members and supporters asking them to donate enough to match Blair’s £20k against our MPs. Labour candidates fighting fabulous Lib Dem MPs like Lynne Featherstone, Jo Swinson, Jenny Willott and Julian Huppert will be getting Blair money.

Anything you donate will be spent directly trying to win those seats and others like them and is money well spent to keep these stellar Liberal Democrats in Parliament.

Farron said:

We reckon that about £20,000 of his donation is going directly to fighting the Liberal Democrats in seats where we’re up against Labour. Those Liberal Democrat candidates opposed Blair’s illegal war in Iraq and are fighting to get the Chilcot report published so he can be held to account.

He is trying to silence them, and we don’t want to let him.

Please will you make a donation today, so we can match the £20,000 Blair has put into fighting Lib Dem candidates?

Every pound you give will go into our election campaign and will be used on the front line. Every Lib Dem candidate is committed to getting the Chilcot report published, so that Tony Blair can be held to account.

A donation from you today will help make that happen.

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Martin Horwood writes …Tony Blair’s legacy

Tony BlairTwenty years ago yesterday Tony Blair became Labour Party Leader. The man who delivered a landslide victory for Labour in 1997 is now seen as a polarising figure in British politics.

Blair loved to be seen as a ‘modernising’ force in his party. Whether it was the abandonment of Clause 4, the drinks receptions for celebrities or leading a Government which was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”, this was a world away from ‘Old Labour’.

As Prime Minister, however, there is no doubt it was his approach to foreign policy that defined his premiership.

Britain’s involvement in the illegal war in Iraq left a particularly indelible mark. Blair seemed to offer Parliament a choice. But his case was built on sandy foundations: his personal word that the intelligence case presented to MPs had not been exaggerated or ‘sexed up’.

Blair had used his own personal charisma to defeat opposition to his changes to the public sector and indeed to the Labour Party itself. He used this tool once again in making the case for the Iraq invasion, alongside a particular brand of political ‘spin’ that grew to typify Labour’s approach in office.

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Caroline Pidgeon AM writes: In praise of Freedom of Information legislation

Parliament ActsTony Blair’s latest comments about Iraq, seeking to defend his disastrous actions back in 2003, have generated extensive media coverage.  However, there are other views expressed by Tony Blair which also deserve attention, most notably his incredible views over freedom of information.

But, before examining his comments lets go back 20 years or so.

For some people it might be hard to remember how Government departments and public bodies often operated.  Holding onto vast amounts of information, however mundane or non-controversial, was considered totally appropriate by most Government departments, quangos and local …

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Opinion: After 150 years, the Gettysburg Address still matters

LincolnIt was just ten sentences long. A mere 273 words delivered in less than three minutes. Yet the Gettysburg Address has resonated through history, finding relevance in every age.

In May 2003, I was researching history in Los Angeles. The news channels had cleared the decks for just one story. One hundred or so miles to the south, President George W. Bush trying to define his own place in history.

The USS Abraham Lincoln was stationed off San Diego after a long deployment, including action in the Bush/Blair war in the Gulf. Beneath a banner of “Mission Accomplished”, a jubilant Bush told the assembled crew and an attentive nation that major combat operations in the Iraq War had ended. In a speech that lacked humility, he said: “We have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world.” Bush boasted of the precision of war, of how “new tactics and precision weapons the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.” Seemingly oblivious to the huge cost in human life, he declared that war against terror, against Al Qaida, was being won.

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Good on Damian McBride – making the case for coalition government

damian+mcbrideI’ve met Damian McBride only once, in February this year. Two things struck me.

First, how much healthier (and happier) he looked than he did in 2008 when his role in a dirty tricks campaign against the Tories was exposed. He was only 34 when that furore flared, yet in pictures from the time he looked at least a decade older.

Secondly, he is seriously smart. A career civil servant promoted to Head of Communications at the Treasury he retains a deeply impressive knowledge of the knottiest tax policies. It makes …

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Nick Clegg MP writes… The Labour and Tory exodus

Something is happening on the centre ground of British politics. An exodus. The Conservative leadership is being lured to the right. Ed Miliband is pulling his party to the left. Only the Liberal Democrats are holding firm.

That creates an opportunity for our party. Over the last twenty years the centre has become a crowded place. First New Labour pitched up, determined to demonstrate a new found credibility on the economy. Then followed a detoxified Conservative Party, hugging hoodies and frolicking with huskies. Yet now – in what, in time, may prove to be a highly significant political shift – the …

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Your essential weekend reader — my personal pick of the week’s must-reads

Papers - Some rights reserved by NS MewsflashIt’s Sunday morning, so here are a dozen of thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices, culled from all those I’ve linked to this past fortnight. You can follow me on Delicious here.

Immigration and the knowledge economy – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg makes the business case for immigration reform in the US, but the lesson is universal: “In a knowledge economy, the most important resources are the talented people we educate and attract to our country.”

Mum did to Maggie what she’d done

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Thatcher, Blair and the Road to Serfdom

Among yesterday’s many predictable tributes to Margaret Thatcher on both sides of the house, one from Labour MP Gisela Stuart caught my ear. (Hansard)

Whole generations have forgotten what 1979 was like. I came here from Germany in the 1970s. I know that Margaret Thatcher would not want us not to learn any lessons from the battles that she had fought—some lost, some won, and some which continue. I am thinking in particular of the role of the market. It is interesting that Margaret Thatcher considered that Hayek’s book “The Road to Serfdom” should be compulsory reading. Many Government

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Norman Lamb MP writes… Ending unlimited care costs: an historic step

This Coalition is at its best when it is tackling the country’s long-term structural problems. That, after all, is why we came together with the Conservatives to form a Coalition Government and deal with the record deficit that we inherited from the last Labour government. Nowhere is this more evident than in today’s historic announcement to protect people, for the first time ever, from the threat of unlimited care costs. That is why I have been pushing relentlessly for this reform since my first day in the job in September.

For anyone doubting whether this is a truly “historic” announcement, …

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John Leech MP writes… Remembering the reasons for Leveson

The Manchester Evening News has a regular slot in the paper where they get a number of MPs to write an opinion column on topical issues of their choice. This week just happened to be my turn, so I thought that I would comment on the eagerly awaited Leveson report, due out on Thursday.

For those of you who don’t know, the MEN is owned by Trinity Mirror, and along with other major newspaper groups, are totally opposed to independent regulation of the press. They claim that regulation will be the end of freedom of expression. How ironic then, that the …

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David Cameron’s ‘a little and often’ leadership doesn’t suit him and isn’t Prime Ministerial

The Telegraph’s James Kirkup, one of that paper’s few fair-minded political commentators, has written a thought-provoking article, A devil’s advocate defence of David Cameron and No 10. His case for the defence is first, that we (public, media) shouldn’t assume the role of Prime Minister has always to follow the command/control style of Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair:

Implicit – and sometimes explicit – in the various critiques of the Cameron style and No 10 outfit is the idea that a Prime

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Opinion: Is Tutu right on Tony Blair?

Like so many of us for whom the anti-apartheid struggle was a political awakening in the 1980s, I revere Bishop Desmond Tutu. A voice of humanity, moderation and forgiveness when there was every chance that South Africa’s transition could have gone very differently, Tutu combines unsurpassed moral leadership with no political ambition.

It was therefore with great interest I awoke on Sunday to Tutu’s call for Tony Blair to face the International Criminal Court on charges for aggression resulting from the 2003 Iraq invasion. Tutu goes on to question why Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe should go to the ICC whilst Blair …

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Opinion: Dear Progress, come in and have a nose around

In the run up to the 1997 election, Tony Blair led Paddy Ashdown up the garden path with a promise of a progressive alliance between a modern reforming Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.

Well, ‘fool us once’ and all that.

15 years later the Liberal Democrats remain a broad church. Orange Bookers, social democrats, Coalition supporters, Coalition sceptics, whatever Evan Harris is – there’s room for all of us.

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Clegg to embark on summer ‘bring on the hatred’ tour

Nick Clegg certainly isn’t one to shy away from voters, even at a time when the Lib Dems, he personally, and the government he’s part of are all suffering from unpopularity. Ever since Nick became leader he’s placed a premium on direct voter contact through his ‘town hall’ meetings. It was a smart strategy which not only earned valuable exposure through the local media, but also ensured he was much more prepared and ready for the televised election debates in 2010.

And this summer he’s setting off on a tour of 13 meetings at which he’s under no illusions he’ll be …

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LDVideo: What are your memories of 15 years ago today, 1st May 1997?

It’s exactly 15 years ago today that Tony Blair led New Labour to a landslide general election victory over John Major’s Tories, and Paddy Ashdown saw the Lib Dems secure the largest third party representation in the House of Commons since 1929. Here are three videos to remind you of a quite extraordinary night…

The exit poll predicts Labour’s landslide

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Opinion: LibDems are the natural home for Blairites

There have been some high profile (if not high level) Blairite defections to the Tories. While there are some similarities between the Blair legacy and our coalition partners, the defectees seem to have overlooked or discarded one idea – joining the Liberal Democrats.

As Jonathan Powell says in his book, The New Machiavelli, and as was evident during his time in office, Tony Blair was strongly pro-Europe. He understood, as we do, that a) the largest common market in the world is something that we should be actively engaging with and leading, and b) there are threats and issues …

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I agree with Tony. (Or why British PMs shouldn’t actually try and do Hugh Grant’s Love Actually PM speech.)

Perhaps it’s because it’s Christmas. Or perhaps it’s because the right-wing press is frothing with excitement at the Prime Minister sticking it to Johnny Foreigner.

Either way, the last few days’ events have put me in mind of the speech Hugh Grant delivers as a British prime minister (coincidentally called David) in the film, Love Actually. You can watch the clip I’m thinking of here.

It’s a knowingly funny pastiche of Little Englander pride in this country’s past glories, invoking cultural icons such as Shakespeare, The Beatles, …

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Opinion: Labour’s problem

There’s been nothing dramatic about this conference season apart from a few gaffes, but under the surface, I think the Labour conference was significant.

While I enjoyed the Lib Dem conference, I don’t think the journalists did. Whenever I passed a well-known TV presenter, they had a face like thunder. They were looking for factionalism and controversy, but all they found was Lib Dems facing up to a difficult situation with determination and loyalty. That makes dull TV, so they must have been tearing their hair out.

The Tory conference was more entertaining.

Theresa May’s remark about cats, and the more recent

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At his best and his worst: 5 thoughts on Tony Blair’s analysis of the UK riots

It’s only been four years since Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister (somehow it seems longer) — and he’s back today with an opinion piece for The Observer on the underlying causes of the riots, ‘Blaming a moral decline for the riots makes good headlines but bad policy’. Here are 5 thoughts on his article:

1) Mr Blair remains the ultimate triangularist

Witness the oxymoronic opening line: ‘Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband made excellent speeches last week and there was much to agree with in what they said.’ First, no they didn’t; neither speech rose to the occasion. Nick Clegg’s under-reported speech was a much weightier contribution than either the Tory or Labour leaders mustered. Secondly, to agree simultaneously with directly opposing arguments suggest that Mr Blair retains his crown as the past-master of intellectual flexibility.

2) Mr Blair remains at heart an authoritarian

As evidenced by his line, ‘my experience with the police is they need 100% backing’. Like all other professionals the police deserve respect and understanding for the immensely difficult job that they do.

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Explaining Cameron’s Coalition: politics as seen through the eyes of MORI polls

Explaining Cameron’s Coalition is the latest in the series of general election analysis by MORI’s Robert Worcester and Roger Mortimore, this time joined by two other authors. The book is therefore very much the tale of the 2005-2010 Parliament and subsequent general election seen through the eyes of MORI’s opinion polling, with an often pungent analysis which certainly fits Robert Worcester’s happiness to point out when he got predictions right and others got them wrong.

Though there is a smattering of references to polling results from other firms, the great strength of the MORI data is that many of the …

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