Thursday, May 10, 2007

Not with a whimper

It seemed clear Tony Blair's intention of having a long goodbye and staging his farewell was designed to leave a lasting impression, his years have been characterised by placing comunication as central to political governance; his departure reflected that. In fact his government even attempted to bury a bit of bad news as he went!

But what did he have to say? He thanked friends and family, he talked about society, but then listed the things he wanted in his political epitaph:

There is only one government since 1945 that can say all of the following: more jobs, fewer unemployed, better health and education results, lower crime and economic growth in every quarter. Only one government. This one... Look at the British economy: at ease with globalisation... No country attracts overseas investment like we do... [Values] the minimum wage. Paid holidays as a right. Amongst the best maternity pay and leave today in Europe. Equality for gay people... Or the global movement to support Africa in its struggle against poverty. Climate change, the fight against terrorism. Britain is not a follower today - Britain is a leader... comfortable in the twenty-first century. At home in its own skin, able not just to be proud of its past but also confident of its future. You know I don't think Northern Ireland would have been changed unless Britain had changed. Or the Olympics won if we were still the Britain of 1997.

So that is his record, but what of him?

In Government you have to give the answer, not an answer, the answer... Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong, that's your call. But believe one thing, if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country.

There you have it, a potted version, the soundbites perhaps, but a skilled piece of political communication designed to position Blair as the man who brought Britian into the 21st century and leaves a country vastly different from the one he inherited 10 years and a few days ago. Rhetoric, a fair appraisal, self-justification, passionate and personal; you decide the purpose of the speech and its style and language. Whatever, history will probably remember that, unless somethign remarkable happens in the next six weeks, that Blair bowed out with a bang and not a whimper.

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