THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tony Blair's Resignation


Tony Blair announced his resignation yesterday and revealed his final day as prime minister will be 27 June, saying it has been an "honour" to lead the "greatest nation on earth".

Read below Tony Blair's long goodbye by Nick Robinson of the BBC.



It's been a long, long goodbye. And it ain't over yet.
It is now a staggering 952 days since a weakened Tony Blair first declared that he would not seek to go "on and on and on" and promised he'd leave office before fighting a fourth election. You may, by now, be thoroughly sick of the wait.
However, I have no doubt that he'll be missed. I mean that not as praise, but simply as a prediction.
For a decade he's been more than just another politician. In an era obsessed with celebrity he's been near the top of the "A list". He has been one of the few enduring characters in our national soap opera.
When he led the tributes to Princess Diana, millions mourned with him.
When he expressed outrage on 9/11, millions felt he'd spoken not just for Britain but for the world.
When he joined Geldof to rock for Africa again, millions joined their campaign.
When on 7/7 he celebrated the Olympics coming to London and hours later stood defiant in the face of terrorism, millions were on the emotional rollercoaster with him.
Millions, of course, have also come to feel betrayed by him - whether over spin or sleaze or the Dome or, of course, Iraq. The disappointment they feel a mirror of the hope they once felt.
When it comes to politics the answer is certainly yes. First, he changed the Labour Party. Next, the Great Persuader convinced the British public that they could trust his party again. Finally, his enduring electoral success forced the Tories to embrace the consensus he had helped to forge. The prime minister takes such pride in this that one Downing Street aide says that his legacy can be summed up in two words - "David Cameron".
What about his oft-repeated soundbite about delivering "economic efficiency together with social justice"? Britain is certainly a richer country. What's more, the government has spent billions in an effort to help the poorest. Alongside the introduction of the minimum wage came tax credits and a massive expansion in child care. Child poverty was cut but less quickly than hoped. Inequality stayed stubbornly unchanged.
Britain's public services also benefited from huge government investment. It is visible in new buildings, more and better paid staff. However, the prime minister himself says that he was too slow to introduce reforms and anger at bureaucracy and inefficiency has lost him the support of the very staff he recruited and rewarded.
Britain has become institutionally more "liberal" with new legal rights not just for gay people. But society has become less at ease with itself as a result of mass immigration and the threat of home-grown terrorism.
It is ironic that Tony Blair has been most equivocal about the change that has, perhaps, been most dramatic - that to Britain's constitution. He's never enthused about the creation of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh assembly or the Mayor of London nor about the proportional voting systems which they use. He's often seemed unhappy with the consequences of the Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information Act.
Prime ministers frustrated by progress at home are often inspired to pursue frenetic diplomacy. None more so than Tony Blair.
The unique personal skills he developed in wooing, cajoling and reconciling the warring parties in Northern Ireland were deployed to some effect in the cause of Africa and tackling climate change.
Yet the man who pledged to reconcile Britain to its place at the heart of Europe never dared to try convincing us to abandon the pound and to adopt the euro.
It was the use of military force which provided him with the most dramatic results. British forces helped deliver democracy in Sierra Leone and the fall of a dictator in Serbia. Tony Blair hoped and believed that the invasion of Iraq would do both those things. What's more he believed it would warn off other regimes from developing weapons of mass destruction. He was tragically wrong. His decision to side with an American president who was not just derided but hated by many voters cost Tony Blair dear. The cost to Iraq is still being counted.
Ever since trust in him and his authority have drained away. Discussion about when he would leave office has turned into a soap opera all of its own.
Throughout that time he's waited to escape the shadow of Iraq. He will know today that he hasn't escaped and may never do so. But he will also know that he's on course to leave Downing Street after a decade in office without being forced out, and with a smile on his face - a feat which no other modern prime minister has matched.