10 May, 2007 – Nick Robinson on Tony Blair’s Long Goodbye

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    2nd November, 2008

    TONY BLAIR’S LONG GOODBYE … FROM NICK ROBINSON

    I found this page from The BBC’s Nick Robinson put together on 10th May 2007 as Mr Blair was about to give his “I did what I thought was right” speech to his Sedgefield constituency. I thought it was worth pasting here. I hope Mr Robinson has no objection.

    It drew a lot of comments, good and bad, about the then Prime Minister. I have also copied the comments as is. I may even have commented myself, don’t know, I haven’t checked through all 588. But at that time when we had at least one interesting politician in this country I used to pop along to Nick’s site quite frequently to read what he had to say. It was often quite interesting and he had a style, rare amongst today’s political journalists, of starting from the point that whatever else you thought of Tony Blair he was first and foremost a man. A human being with feelings; like the rest of us.

    He said that he thought we’d miss Mr Blair, and tried to put that suggestion down to his having been so dominant in our country’s life for so long. That, and his charismatic star quality, unusual in any public figure.

    I think Nick actually rather liked Mr Blair. And I sometimes wonder, as he talks about boring so-and-so and dull whatsisname, if he secretly wishes the intangible, intriguing qualities of Tony Blair were still embodied in Number 10.  I like to think he has enough taste and political nous that the honest answer would be “yes”.

    The long goodbye

    • Nick
    • 10 May 07, 08:07 AM

    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.

    blairpa.jpgHowever, 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.

    Love him or loathe him, we have grown used to having a leader who is always centre stage. That will change when he’s gone.

    Did he, though, live up to his own billing as “the changemaker”?

    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”.

    The verdict is more equivocal when you look at how he changed Britain.

    The man who declared that his arrival in office was a “new dawn” did not end, and perhaps in the end deepened, public cynicism about politicians’ honesty and motives.

    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.

    Comments

    • 1.
    • At 08:34 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard wrote:

    What goes around comes round. I can clearly remember people saying that Margaret Thatcher said that her legacy was Tony Blair. Tony Blair hijacked her policies and David Cameron is continuing them. Wake up Old Labour, New Labour took over where Margaret Thatcher left off.

    • 2.
    • At 09:06 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Kevin wrote:

    Nick, your posting and comments on the radio this morning pretty much sum up what I’ve always thought – political journalists should get out of the Westminster village more, it might give them a better sense of perspective.

    The idea that people needed Blair, or indeed anyone else, to “speak for them” on Africa (a campaign, hijacked from NGOs by the government and then promises that were never delivered) or on the 11 September attacks is just nonsense. What people needed Blair to do was to make up for the grinding years of Tory rule with something different – but instead we had more of the same. PFI, an obsession with markets, slavish devotion to US international policy and a fundamental disregard for civil liberties (often written off an obsession of the chattering classes, but becoming a more general unease as the government becomes ever more authoritarian). Things, apparently, could only get better. But mainly, they remained unchanged.

    Blair a ‘unique’ politician? Put next to Thatcher, Clinton – or Gordon Brown – that’s hard to justify. Another neo-liberal who stuck around, within a centre-ground that has shifted well to the right and offered less and less choice between political parties? That’s a verdict that many people are likely to share.

    • 3.
    • At 09:13 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris Wills wrote:

    It might be worth comparing the state of the country in 1979 to 1997 (the same digits but in a different order – spooky).
    Margaret Thatcher inherited a mess and her time was taken up by reacting to serious events that affected Britain directly. The Falklands war was a foreign country invading a British territory where people hold British passports, a friend of mine in the British army was from the Falklands. I can’t remember why we went to war in Serbia or Afghanistan and we went to war in Iraq over a lie told by the Prime Minister. The miner’s strike had been coming throughout the 1970s; I can’t imagine what would have happened if Blair had been in power then and don’t try and believe the strike would not have happened because there were over 120,000 miners in 1979 in a very inefficent and heavily subsidised dinosaur of an industry.
    When Maggie left power her legacy appeared to be the Poll Tax and sleeze but as time moves on that has died down and she is being credited with modernising Britain and moving us away from restrictive working practices that plagued us for so long in the 1960s and 1970s. So whatever people are saying about Blair today will change as time moves.
    Blair inherited a thriving economy, a massive majority and a huge amount of goodwill. Perhaps he needed some real events to create a real legacy, and before anybody mentions Northern Ireland remember it was John Major who started the process.
    I don’t believe Blair has a legacy other than the fact that apart from Iraq he didn’t really mess things up. His problem was he was in too comfortable a position for too long to do anything really valuable.

    It’s an interesting list, but why oh why does he vainly seek to dominate the news agenda for another seven weeks, in tandem with a tokenistic leadership ‘contest’ that’s hogged the headlines for years already. Going on and on is exactly what Blair wants to do – in his own ‘statesmanlike’ way – seven more weeks of legacy spin. God save us. If you want to alienate your electorate, this is a great way to achieve it. This will backfire.

    • 5.
    • At 09:40 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rob wrote:

    Tony Blair – the spend and smile prime minister, to be replaced by Gordon Brown, the spend prime minsiter.

    • 6.
    • At 09:40 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • PeeVeeAh wrote:

    That was the best resume I’ve yet seen, Nick. It’s a fair and critically unbiased summary and I think – whether he should appreciate it or no – Tony Blair will possibly sigh/smile it into his ‘laegacy’ folder!

    Lots crucially wrong – much significantly Right (?) – but he certainly was in-yer-face at all international opportunities.

    And maybe there is a role for the old dawg! Ambassador to the US? I doubt he would be daft enough to go after the UN top job!

    • 7.
    • At 09:43 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Stephen wrote:

    Nick seems to think that the PM merits some credit for being able to leave with a smile on his face. However, the relatives of those who have died as a result of his overseas escapades, and I include Mrs Kelly in this, will find it much more difficult to smile to-day. The smug face of Mr Blair should be reviled rather than respected.

    This is a man who has spun and lied his way through ten years of pretty unflattering policies and decisions. Yes the economy has managed to trundle along quite nicely, but this has been the case for most open economies. Beyond this, we have witnessed the growth in the state coupled with increasingly intrusive powers, and a large section of the media that seem to unquestioningly accept whatever Blair and his cronies say.

    It is high time that the BBC and others took a long hard look at themselves and understood that it is their duty to scrutinise and question everything that comes out of the government. Unfortunately, too often, this government has shot the messenger and carried on as before.

    I will not remember Blair or the Blair years fondly. In fact I expect to be able to forget him as soon as he goes.

    • 8.
    • At 09:44 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Louise wrote:

    Despite what some people say Tony Bliar has done so many great things for this country, he will be truly missed.

    • 9.
    • At 09:59 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Matt Parker wrote:

    I lament the many armchair political commentators that will inevitably flood this comment box with short-sighted tirades about Iraq, which was a decision which we should judge based soley on whether he believed he was doing the right thing, which he inarguably did. Blair has changed the political landscape and ushered in a new era of accountability in government which New Labour may not always have lived up to, but which simply did not exist under Conservative rule. How easy it is to forget the misery of life in this country under the Tories. This country has never had a statesman like Blair, including Churchill, and I’ve never felt more proud of my Prime Minister.

    • 10.
    • At 10:00 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • chris mchale wrote:

    Im pleasantly surprised in this blog. I think its a very fair summary of Mr Blair’s premiership.

    He will most certainly be missed. He is an amazing leader and an inspirational speaker.

    I think he will be more appreciated over the coming years especially if, heaven forbid, the ‘other lot’ get back in!

    • 11.
    • At 10:03 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Vivian sadler wrote:

    Thank you Tony for all the good work you have done over the last ten years. Northen Ireland is at last at peace thanks to your acheviement. People forget the good you have done under your leadership. I think Iraque was maybe a bad thing but in my opinion there will never be peace there for a long time. The economy has never been so good and unemployment has dropped considerably. The N.H.S. has too many chiefs and not enough indians.
    As a long standing Labour supporter and volunteer during many elections I wish both you and your family well.
    Viv sadler.

    So farewell then Tony Blair, whose arrogance, dishonesty and sheer bad judgement took us into a war which will harm us and the rest of world for a generation.

    Worse even than Eden’s Suez madness, it was the most tragic mistake made by a British Prime Minister since the nineteenth century.

    • 13.
    • At 10:05 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Clothilde Simon wrote:

    All the arguments that say that Blair should quit now are equally valid as arguments that Brown (and not just Reid and Prescott) should go at the same time.

    • 14.
    • At 10:06 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Johannes wrote:

    Gimme a break! “national soap opera”? You’re the living embodiment of hamming up serious politics.

    • 15.
    • At 10:10 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Marc Rowland wrote:

    Nick

    Fascinating – thanks for an unbiased, calm summary of the Blair years.

    • 16.
    • At 10:13 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark wrote:

    Nick

    While everyone feels sorry for Blair and enthuses over his past glories. While he himself makes goodbye speeches and emotional tearful asides.

    THE UK loses its eye on the ball as he implements the EU constitution in the guise of amendments to existing treaties ready for brown to ratify them with an all new pro EU cabinet.

    One final last farewell to Blair and democracy.

    • 17.
    • At 10:13 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • bill1946 wrote:

    No other British PM ever took the country to war on a false premise or increased the value of his property holdings six-fold (as reported in the national press, not my figures), in seven years while in office. Pretty impressive.

    • 18.
    • At 10:13 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    Nick Robinson’s perpetuation of the myth that Tony Blair was responsible for the Dome fiasco does him (Robinson) little credit.

    The Dome was very much a legacy of the John Major years, the bright idea of, I think, Michael Heseltine.

    • 19.
    • At 10:14 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Yates wrote:

    History will remember Tony Blair more fondly, than we do today, and I say that as a Tory voter of long standing. I would sooner have a prime minister who is courageous enough to make decisions that he believes in, than one who is not. Yes he has made mistakes, many, but the same people who complain about taking the country into Iraq are the same people who would protest about us allowing Saddam to get away with killing the kurds. Premiership is hard, criticising is easy.

    • 20.
    • At 10:14 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Kendrick Curtis wrote:

    Call this “not being forced out”? Of course he’s being forced out. If he hadn’t taken us into an illegal (allegedly) war with another sovereign nation then he would not be facing the pressure to go that he has faced.

    • 21.
    • At 10:15 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Robbie McLaren wrote:

    I agree with Kevin – this piece is just a little bit too whimsical and when it finally does make a point it’s more than a little condescending. Political journos are just to close to call these things as the general public see them.

    Tony Blair promised the world (and no tax increases) but delivered Iraq and a large increase in the tax burden.

    It’s been an office of populism over policy.

    • 22.
    • At 10:15 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • pete davis wrote:

    Nice summing up Nick but what about Bosnia surely Tony’s greatest triumph over evil and something we should never forget

    • 23.
    • At 10:17 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Clive wrote:

    You need to get in touch with the real people… this rose tinted view of 10 years of lies, deceit and failure is what we come to expect from BBC lefties.

    Massive investment in health, education but no real improvements

    Runaway stealth taxes

    Abandon suffering in Sudan, Zimbabwe, (well they don’t have oil do they!)

    Blair might be well intentioned but his court of jesters have failed to deliver anything for the UK public

    • 24.
    • At 10:17 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • George Shaw wrote:

    Tony Blair said that British troops should not leave Iraq “before the job is done”. So what message does it send out that he is leaving office before the job is done?

    • 25.
    • At 10:17 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris Wills wrote:

    ‘political journalist should get out of Westminter village more’. Good idea. Given that Gordon Brown is only temporary acting PM until there is an election (he might win but then at least he will be elected PM) why don’t you try and get out into the country more? Why not pick three marginal seats outside the M25, one from each party, and do an occasional blog where you ask opinions from locals in the constituencies on major political issues of the day. You could post these opinions on your blog. You might be surprised at how politically savvy people outside the M25 are. We might get more of a broad view of political feelings in the country.
    Keep up the good work Nick.

    • 26.
    • At 10:18 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew Lawton wrote:

    A question for Chris Wills:

    How did Tony Blair “inherit” a massive majority?

    Tony Blair’s greatest failing domestically is that he has not reversed the social decline or the selfish disregard for others that Thatcher encouraged to the detriment of us all.

    • 27.
    • At 10:18 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tim McCormick wrote:

    We expect too much. The country carries on regardless.

    • 28.
    • At 10:19 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    Blair does deserve some credit for Northern Ireland. The idea that the peace process etc was ‘started’ by John Major is debateable. Yes, he played a part, but he also fibbed about even speaking to the IRA. Surely, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness took greater risks than Major by going to the hardened militarists in their movement to convince them politics would be more fruitful than war. I’m glad Blair is going, nevertheless.

    • 29.
    • At 10:19 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • paul wrote:

    He has done a lot wrong eg iraq and continuation of sleaze BUT

    1. minimum wage
    2. civil partnerships
    3. much greater equality
    4. massive investment in public services
    5. a fairer society
    6. made adoption easier and fairer
    7. brought peace to northern ireland

    i could go on. as a history teacher i feel he will be reassessed, but in a generally more positive light once the mire of iraq can be waded through with the passage of time.

    on the subject of thatcher, reappraisal of her rule has now become largely negative as people realise the high social and economic cost of her policies – the same is not true of blair, because whilst he has made mistakes and misjudgements, there have not been the social and economic upheavals and traumas we experienced in the 80s.

    • 30.
    • At 10:19 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jonathan wrote:

    Nick, I don’t normally agree with your views on Tony Blair and the labour party, because of your Tory bias, but I think your article is spot on. The country is better. You go to any major city in the country and you will see the change. The Minimum wage has helped Millions of people. Yes his time has been blighted because of sleaze and Iraq, but he will not be replaced by a better man or women in the short term. I for one will miss him and fear Cameron and Brown.

    • 31.
    • At 10:20 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • yann wrote:

    i think the other commentators (for want of a better phrase) need to wake up man.

    no, we didnt NEED a tony blair, and no he wasnt the liberal we all hoped. BUT HE WAS THE BEST OF A BAD BUNCH-and the best we’ve had.

    Thatcher and major destroyed this society-blair has gone someway of building it back. yeah he was thatcher mkii, but PEOPLE WANT THATCHER thatcher is seen as one of the most popular PM’s ever.

    yeah he was pretty right wing, but so is this country!!

    in the words of P-funk extrodinaire George Clinton: ‘give the people what they want, when they want, and they wont sit all the time’- he gave us what we wanted (including the iraq war-which was popular at the time) we stood, and now we moan?

    im no blairite, and im probably more left than most marxists, but seriously, blair is one of the best we had…
    AND JUST FOR THE RECORD: PFI has decreased under the blair govt. since Major adopted it in the 90’s
    GOD BLESS :p

    • 32.
    • At 10:23 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • nick wrote:

    Tony Blair rocked and given time, we will always look back fondly at this leadership style and instilling such morality and optimism within our society.

    Your remarks about devolution and the Human Rights Act are interesting.

    To use a good old-fashioned Marxist phrase, I think there was always an internal contradiction in the ideas connoted by ‘modernisation’. When he came to power, he wanted both to make government more representative and fair, on the one hand, and more efficient, on the other. Trouble is, those aspirations pull in different directions.

    I’m not sure he ever really got that.

    • 34.
    • At 10:24 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Martin wrote:

    It is truly a sad day.

    Sad, that Mr. Blair is concluding his term of office without being held to account over the many lies and deceits that have been foisted upon both Parliament and the electorate.

    The BBC has been cowed into submission and had its wings clipped over the ‘dodgy dossier’ affair, even though they were historically proven to be absolutely correct in their assertions that the dossier was deliberately ‘sexed up’.

    My sympathies go out to the Kelly family who must be finding Mr. Bliar’s (sic) final grandstanding a very unsavoury experience.

    • 35.
    • At 10:24 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Stuart wrote:

    I will be sorry to see him leave, the best prime minister in my 40 years on this planet. He had his failings , as all humans do , but he has left this country a better place than when he came to office.

    • 36.
    • At 10:24 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • PETER KENDALL wrote:

    The first PM to take the country to war on a false premise, and increase his property holdings six-fold in seven years (based on sale and acquisition prices published on the national press). Pretty impressive.

    • 37.
    • At 10:25 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Daniel wrote:

    Look out for the bad news being buried beneath todays announcement.
    27,000 jobs are at risk in the social health sector….

    • 38.
    • At 10:25 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Trevor, London wrote:

    A very fair assessment, Nick. The one big achievement you have missed off, though, is economic stability. Anyone who lived throught the Thatcher years will recall the horrors of uncontrolled inflation and huge interest rates. Yes, the present Government did achieve this partly as a result of a better global economic stability, but in this matter we have been far and away the global leaders. Economic stability has meant that families are beter able to plan their lives and resources and I personally have been very grateful for this. I just hope that moving the key player in this achievement to No.10 doesn’t mean that it will go downhill from now on!

    • 39.
    • At 10:26 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris Byers wrote:

    I am no fan of Tony Blair, but even less of a fan of Gordon Brown.
    Something I fail to understand is that since Mr Blair first indicated his intention to leave office during this parliament (after a ‘full term’ – yet more spin!) he has not reshuffled Mr Brown to broaden his experience. There have been vacancies at the Foreign Office and Home Office. Had Mr Brown been moved it would have shown us a couple of things: Mr Blair’s grip on government (not just on Foreign poilicy) and Mr Brown’s adaptability.

    • 40.
    • At 10:26 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paisley Yoda wrote:

    “In an era obsessed with celebrity, he’s been near the Top of the A-List.”

    I think you summarise Tony Blair and his legacy perfectly. A triumph of packaging over substance, and a lazy shallow society that now values and rewards being famous for being famous above all else; idolatory of the quality of nothing.

    Yes Tony Blair has changed this country beyond all recognition. But God help us if you think it is a triumph to have turned our country into a “National Soap Opera”, but I do agree that is what we have become. The Great has now been firmly dropped from Britain.

    • 41.
    • At 10:26 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • jane wrote:

    I shall certainly miss him. He has been a wonderful ambassador for this country and has achieved much over the past 10 years. Unlike many contributing on this board, I do remember the state of public services prior to 1997, the low pay of public sector workers, unemployment etc etc. We all lived in fear of losing our jobs. It seems apparent to me that no matter how good a premier we have, the media tires of them after a period of time and this is transmitted to the public.

    Gordon Brown may be very able but he does not have the traits that I want from a PM. I honestly belive that he and his supporters have done damage to the labour party and government by constant briefing to the press. I am sure Tony Blair will be happy to say goodbye to the character assassination, back stabbing and leadership of the labour party. He may certainly have made mistakes during his premiership but to call him a liar for making decisions based on available information is wrong.

    Thank you for your article Nick – it was very fair. The labour party will never be the same until we have someone like David Miliband at the helm!

    • 42.
    • At 10:26 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Kev wrote:

    Tory Blair is going, so let’s hope we get a Labour leader now. Tory Blair will be remembered for exactly that, turning the Labour Party into the Tory Party and forgetting the people in favour of business and into the unlawful war in Iraq making the world unsafer and Britian as hated as the USA. Be gone Tory and no tears will be shed.

    • 43.
    • At 10:27 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Oddie wrote:

    So Chris Wills doesn’t like Blair? Obvious I think but to be dismissive of his achievement in Northern Ireland by saying John Major started it is ridiculous.

    Blair has been at this task for 10 years and so deserves the credit.

    I don’t agree with everything Blair has done but I can tell the good from the bad. Northern Ireland, the minimum wage and other less glamorous or headline grabbing polices have all been good things for the country.

    Despite that some will never give him any credit for the good and he will definitely be remembered most for Iraq which has been of course his greatest blunder.

    • 44.
    • At 10:27 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • James Marriott wrote:

    Nick I think you should have included N.I. in his pro-list! His contempt for the housing crisis (demonstrated by letting Prescott ‘deal’ with it) should go down as his second biggest failure.

    • 45.
    • At 10:27 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tom wrote:

    Yet again Nick, your bias towards Labour is painfully evident. Everything Tony Blair has touched has turned to dust, and somehow you seem to think we have reason to thank him. I very much doubt that the teachers, doctors, nurses and soldiers of this country would agree with you.

    Anyone who was PM when 9/11 happened or when Princess Diana died would have had the whole country behind them. If that’s the best you can think of, it really goes to show how disastrous his legacy is.

    • 46.
    • At 10:27 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Patricia wrote:

    Nick, I heard your comments on the Today programme this morning and had trouble keeping my breakfast down.
    Blair was recruited by the neo-cons and parachuted into the Labour Party. He followed a neo-con agenda from the start and those Labour MP’s who supported him or said nothing should now crawl back under their stones. Brown will “inherit” a disgraced Labour Party (the media made sure that John McDonnell’s campaign went unheard) and, as one of the chief architects of New Labour, he deserves all that is coming to him.
    Meanwhile, the public will continue to pay for Blair’s army of bodyguards until the day he descends to meet his Maker…

    • 47.
    • At 10:28 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nick Ould wrote:

    “However, I have no doubt that he’ll be missed.”

    All about context. It really does depend on who will be our next long-term PM- Brown or Cameron.

    • 48.
    • At 10:28 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Pham Anh Tuan wrote:

    I totally share a view with Nick Robinson. I love Tony for what he does and what he can not do. He and Bill Clinton shall be the most loving politicians for at least 20 more years.

    He will serve people more, I am sure.

    • 49.
    • At 10:28 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Brian Capaloff wrote:

    My 14 years’ membership of the Labour Party ended in rapid disillusionment within a few months of Blair becoming a PM and there are so many things which re-inforce my views as to the correctness of this decision, inc. Iraq and the sycophancy to Bush, business interest into schools/academies, a Home Office that panders back to the days of Michael Howard, a chaotic Health Service etc, but, when assessing some of the achievements in the cold light of day, these are equally massive and possibly more fundamental for our long term future – including the minimum wage, greater fairness for lesbians and gays, reforming of the House of Lords – and many of these changes are now accepted by all sides of the spectrum.

    • 50.
    • At 10:29 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • trasmallo wrote:

    you say “without being forced out”. If he hadn’t already said he’d be going, and then later brought forward this timetable to now rather than the end of this parliament, I’d like to bet that last year’s nearly-coup would have gone all the way – at some point, if not then.

    • 51.
    • At 10:30 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Geoffrey Coad wrote:

    We have not had a prime minister with Tony Blair’s charisma before and I think we will not have another PM with the same level of charisma for a long time.

    Maybe that will be a good thing – and we will see a stronger lean to policies taking centre stage again, or maybe people will loose interest in politics as there is not such a strong force of personality to vilify / hero-worship.

    Whichever way it goes; there will be a Tony Blair shaped void in the short term for this reason. Only in the longer term will wee what he is actually remembered for.

    • 52.
    • At 10:30 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike Ash wrote:

    It is as wrong to totally demonise Blair as it is to blandly praise him.

    But as an active member of another political party, I recognise that he has changed the political landscape for ever – as did Thatcher. My main feeling is deep disappointment that so many people feel let down even so much has been achieved.

    The only thing I feel certain about for the future is that things will develop in unexpected ways. “Events, dear boy, events!” to quote another prime minister.

    • 53.
    • At 10:31 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Strong wrote:

    Goodbye and good riddence…and at least we won’t have to endure his ghastly wife any longer.

    • 54.
    • At 10:31 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike wrote:

    He will be remembered as a free-loading, money-grubbing self-centred failure. Interested only in his place in history, but with a legacy of failure, sleaze and WAR.

    • 55.
    • At 10:32 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • orraloon wrote:

    Booming economy, ten recession free years, sustained growth. Interest rates averaging under 5%, (10% average with the Major�s Tory government) inflation under 3%, �60 billion extra NHS funding, shorter waiting times, cancer and cardiac deaths falling and 187 new hospitals built, or on course for completion
    Thousands more teachers and classroom assistants increasing GCE passes. Crime figures falling, Police number increased by over 4000. (reduced under the Tories)
    Pensioners much better off, �2000 winter allowance per couple, (Wear more clothes under the Tories) Pension credit, free TV licence, free bus travel, free central heating, tax credit, minimum wage. More people in work paying into the exchequer and less unemployed taking from the system and not known for a decade – a cessation IRA atrocities.
    Who wore the boiler suit during those years of great improvement following the Tory years of 15% interest rates and minus equity on house values ? – now home owners are building a healthy retirement nest egg.
    Disgruntled Tories would believe they were in Utopia with a record such as has been achieved, and all at a time when the cost of Public Service borrowing has been greatly reduced.
    Contrast with 18 years of Tory rule. North Sea oil revenues and the sale of the �family silver� (public utilities, many now foreign owned) wasted funding benefits to three and a half million unemployed. VAT raised from 8 to 17.5%. Black Wednesday – �8 billion down the drain in a matter of minutes.
    Wages Council disbanded leading to slave wages for millions. Nursing colleges closed, Police numbers reduced and crime figures doubling. Hospital and school building is a state of abject disrepair. The dreaded Poll Tax and the equally hated Council Tax introduced and soon after the Fuel Escalator (Inflation + 3%) introduced to run for 6 years, axed by Labour after 2 years
    Disastrously fragmented sale of the railway system requiring millions of taxpayer�s money being paid (under Labour) to make the system meet health and safety requirements.

    Well done good and faithful servant

    • 56.
    • At 10:34 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • derek barker wrote:

    Behold the changemaker, for this time he has disappeared,so what did he leave behind?1. a fantastic health services, me thinks not!2.a brilliant education services,me thinks not!3.a peaceful Iraq,me thinks not!4.a more united kingdom,me thinks not!5.a better standard of life for all,me thinks not!6.lower prison numbers,me thinks not!7.more affordable homes,me thinks not!8.a stronger europe,me thimks not”9.more dentist,me thinks not!10.less sleazy governments,me thinks not! “A TEN POINT PLAN WHY NEW LABOUR MADE NO DIFFERENCE”

    • 57.
    • At 10:35 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rob wrote:

    Missed, my foot! It’s about time he quit.

    With any luck, the next PM will be an honest, trustworthy, strong leader for our country, rather than an arrogant, lying, hypocritical poodle.

    There’s only one place Tony Blair belongs and that’s in a war crimes court, answering for what he’s done.

    • 58.
    • At 10:36 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike Horner wrote:

    A fair summary, I think. Critics should ask themselves whether any other politician would have done anything differently in Iraq – and whether it would have made a difference.

    The US were going to attack Iraq anyway, and Blair’s choice was either to break with our oldest ally or join them – does anyone believe that a Conservative leader would have stayed away?

    And, let’s face it, it’s only because of Blair that Labour were in the position to have that choice – a more left-wing Labour party wouldn’t have won in 1997.

    What Kevin, Gordon, and Goswell said. Plus his total failure to do anything about transport. His capitulation to the roads lobby in general and the fuel protesters in particular was yet another missed opportunity and procrastination.

    • 60.
    • At 10:38 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alan Taylor wrote:

    How can a leader, not be centre stage?

    Just pray we don’t go back to interest rates of 18%

    • 61.
    • At 10:41 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Frank Bridge wrote:

    “this national soap opera” – and that Robinson, sums it up for me. This repetitive story that always ends in arrogance and deceipt in every government third term I have known and bolstered by your awe at the whole proceedings. What the people of Britain wanted back in 1997 was the 3rd way, something new, something daring and different. What we got was an extension of Thatcher’s tawdry capitalism and consumerism with no substance all paid for on credit.

    I will not miss him.

    • 62.
    • At 10:41 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gavin wrote:

    This has been a somewhat strange period in British politics; here, we see the final days in office of the man who sold the country Tory-style center right politics, cloaked in Labour-style policies on equality, but flanked by Brown’s old-Labour style high spending (for questionable results). There are many millions of people in this country who will never vote Tory – so perhaps Blair made the right move by joining the opposition to the party in which he clearly belonged.

    What really sets “new” Labour apart from the Tories is the kind of control they wish to exert; with Blair we did not get the small government aspirations in which the Tories still largely believe: instead, we have an unprecedented level of top-down control, tinkering and spying than ever before. But, somehow, Blair’s Labour sold it to the masses as a new kind of freedom. You cannot deny he is a skillful politician.

    Farewell, then, Britain’s finest Conservative Prime Minister since Thatcher.

    • 63.
    • At 10:42 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ashley Slater wrote:

    We will miss him a lot. I have had the opposite reaction to most people. I hated him when he arrived – that insincere smile, the smug grin, the horrendous Diana speech – but I have come to admire him. I marched against the War because the reasons he gave were dishonest, but he was probably right to support Bush. I just wish he could have seen that it was braver to be honest. And Iraq has actually improved him as a man. He has shown real moral fortitude and Thatcheresque leadership qualities. That’s what a country needs. A leader who can take unpopular decisions based on conscience. So I have come to admire him, and the British people will be worse off without him. We will miss him like a father.

    • 64.
    • At 10:42 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Patrick wrote:

    Chris Wills – the Falklands islanders did not hold British passports at that time. They had British Overseas Citizenship which did not entitle them to right of abode in the UK. Guess which party introduced that? They only had full entitlement after the war.
    When Blair was elected, it was indeed a new dawn after the years of Tory rule. I for one and I’m sure millions of others had high hopes of a new Britannia. However, over the years I’ve been disappointed by the promises that never came to fruition. True, money was pumped into education,health etc. but the decision to maintain Tory spending levels at the beginning was flawed. As has been said elsewhere, some Tory policies were hijacked and repackaged – PFI, Health Trusts, Foundation Schools. These should not be part of Labour’s social policies… sorry I forgot it’s New Labour now so must be OK!
    I thought it was right to interevene in Bosnia and Sierra Leone. However, they won’t be remembered in the same breath as Iraq which will be Blair’s enduring legacy.
    In some areas Tony Blair has indeed done some good things for the country. Overall, his period in office has been mired in the same sleaziness as John Major’s premiership.

    • 65.
    • At 10:45 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Winston DW wrote:

    The amount of anger some direct towards Blair is shocking. Do you think it’s easy running the country? He’s done a pretty decent job, no everyone is going to agree with everything, but the stable economy we’ve enjoyed for the last decade is unprecedented. Maybe people should remember that when they moan about transport and the war. If you didn’t have a job, I think you’d have bigger things on your mind.

    • 66.
    • At 10:45 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Toby Smith wrote:

    I do wish that certain contributors to this blog would remember that the BBC has a duty to be balanced.
    It seems that the suggestion that Tony Blair is anything other than 100% evil and satanic gets greeted by some as outrageous pro-government propaganda.
    Nick’s summary is balanced and unbiased; Blair’s detractors, his supporters, and those with a more equivocal view like me, can agree with it.

    But of course, Blair’s real legacy will only be known in years to come. None of us can predict how he will be judged by history.

    • 67.
    • At 10:46 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Christopher Edward Gould wrote:

    Blair and Brown were fortunate to inherit an improving financial situation from John Major. The loss of North Sea revenue meant the introduction of a plethora of stealth taxes so that middle income Britain became worse off over the last 10 years. Tax money was then poured into both NHS and Education and has essentially been mis-directed from the coal face. This highlights the basic problem with the Blair government – so many policies and laws have been introduced with what appears to be a lack of detailed pre-planning. I am sure the Civil Service would have had their staff input, but it cannot help if most final decisions are made by the Blair inner circle with minimal cabinet involvement. I would hope that for the future most people would like to see new policies planned and introduced using all levels of the government machine. Mr Brown should take note.

    • 68.
    • At 10:46 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark wrote:

    For all the shortcomings – and the George Galloway paraphrasers and Thatcher-era revisionists mention them all, to those of us that have lived on the periphery of British politics (in the provinces) Blair’s contribution has been outstanding. Democratising Wales and Scotland has revolutionised our local economies and re-established national integrity. I do not vote for his party in Wales but thank him for what he has done.

    People need to remember what an international laughing stock we were 10 years ago – marginalised by Europe and ignored by the US.

    • 69.
    • At 10:48 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • David McCusker wrote:

    I think Tony Blair will be remembered as one of the best PMs in the UK’s history. I grew up (in the 70’s) in a country in economic decline with its world standing falling in every way. My children are now growing up in one of the most successful economies in the world in a country that is prepared once again to play a confident role on the world stage. Well done Mr. Blair – and keep up the good work Mr. Brown.

    • 70.
    • At 10:48 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • ChrisJK wrote:

    The only question is whether the bottle of champagne in the fridge gets opened today – or when I actually see the removal vans leaving No.10.

    Probably the latter. I would not be surprised to find him standing outside No.10, on the final day, waving a piece of paper in his hand saying “believe me, in the light of the facts in this (classified) document I must humbly carry on my crusade against the dark forces of evil for another ten years”.

    • 71.
    • At 10:49 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • ramilas1 wrote:

    “You may, by now, be thoroughly sick of the wait.”

    Yes, a ten-year wait.
    And it would be nice to think that now, at last, ‘things can only get better.’
    But, of course, we all know that exactly the opposite will happen.

    One additional point, Blair has not reversed a single one of the necessary and fundamental changes made to UK society by Lady Thatcher.
    For that, at least, we must be thankful.

    • 72.
    • At 10:49 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Clive Schless wrote:

    Blair’s great legacy is a united nation. Mrs Thatcher, created schisms within the country, dividing Rich from Poor and North From South, ensuring that millions of us were beaten, humiliated and estranged – an enemy within. John Major, simply put the breaks on. Tony Blair has actively healed the wounds: anti-poverty legislation; new hospitals and schools for communities to be proud of; a stable economy so that those with less can actively plan ahead; a working environment where there is a sense of common achievement for both employees and employers.
    Although I have faith in Gordon Brown’s ability to continue on the path of social justice and reforms, he seems to be a less personable character who might face difficulties when it comes to pressing home the argument both domestically and abroad. Cameron is facile, desperately fishing around for policies that appeal, casting aside philosophical integrity for popularist duplicity. Ming is simply too old, looking like a fish out of water for the cut-and-thrust of today’s political arena. He’s put the liberal’s back ten years.
    Tony Blair represents, stability, honesty and integrity. He is flawed but, so are we all. The difference with Mr Blair is that he can admit to it.
    I think that in a year’s time we will be looking over the political landscape and asking the simple question ‘why did we get rid of him?’

    • 73.
    • At 10:49 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Phillip Hewitt wrote:

    In my opinion Tony Blair has been the best Leader this Country have had since the end of World war II.
    When he came to power Britain was on it’s knees the Health service and Schools were in massive decline.Unemployment was at nearly 4 million,interest rates had gone through the roof and people were losing their Homes in thousands because of bieng unable to meet Mortgage repayments. Successive Torie governments had destroyed our industries, Coal,Steel, Ship building and sold off everything that wasn’t nailed down to such an extent that we don’t even own our own Water anymore.It was also a Torie Government that backed the Channel Tunnel the very thing that helped more illegal Immigrants in to this Country than anything else. Tony Blair and his Government have pumped money into the Health Service and Schools and now the results are beginning to show.Unemployment is low more people are in work than ever, prosperity is high and thanks to Gordon Brown (the best Chancellor Ever) the economy has remained stable, something the Tories never managed to do. Much has been said about Blair’s legacy bieng Iraq He was the Leader with a decision to make I think the right decision was made, ok no weapons of mass destruction have (as yet) been found but for me that is good it’s pointless waiting until they have them because then it’s too late as we will find out with Iran. Does anyone really think that Iran will hesitate using a nuclear weapon against Israel if they get one, then the same people who attacked Blair over Iraq will blame him for not having dealt with Iran when we had the chance.I think Tony Blair can leave office Knowing he leaves the Country in a far better state than it was when he became Leader. Have a good retirement Mr Blair and be proud of what you have achieved.

    • 74.
    • At 10:50 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nev Planket wrote:

    If one of the main flaws in the Blair premiership was spin and lies, do the BBC and journalists like Nick recognize their own culpability in their hearts-a-quiver celebritizing approach to this deeply manipulative character?

    For instance, Nick says that Britain is more liberal as a result of Blair, speaking of a man who systematically tried to give politicians the right to imprison citizens indefinitely and without trial or judicial review. Nick, what planet do you live on?

    • 75.
    • At 10:50 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • GLen wrote:

    “Louise wrote:
    Despite what some people say Tony Bliar has done so many great things for this country, he will be truly missed.”
    This is lies. Tony Blair has never done anything good for this country. This post should be removed immediately. Tony Blair has ruined this country. The damage that has been done over the last decade will take a good leader and many years to repair.

    • 76.
    • At 10:51 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Robert Crosby wrote:

    I joined the Labour Party when I was 15 (in 1983) and I’m proud to have remained a member ever since. There are several policies that Tony Blair has pursued that I have personally disagreed with (‘Foundation’ schools and hospitals for example) and I have never been comfortable with some of his choices of those who he surrounds himself with to give him advice. The culture of lazy senior public sector managers who cynically deliver to Cabinet ministers’ ears only waht they think they want to hear also has to change.

    I do however most strongly believe that too many ‘self-styled intellectuals’ who perhaps view themselves as being ‘Left and pure’ are happy to denigrate the Blair government’s massive achievements (hardly any crumbling school buildings, NHS waiting lists massively down, devolution, minimum wage etc). It may make them feel good in the short term to attack this government’s record – they will repent and, I hope, regret if they assist the disingenuous Cameron into Downing Street.

    • 77.
    • At 10:51 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • jon adams wrote:

    it always amazes me how people forget the years of tory rule, from street riots to mass unemployment, boom and bust economics and 17% interest rates then claim blair was little different. blair secured the NI peace not major as major was held in office by the ulster unionists, the tories fought against the minimum wage, the tories called mandela a terrorist for god’s sake. Blair has done such a lot for britain but its a shame his legacy is clouded by a media and press that always wanted to focus on the negative and too often robinson has been one to bias his views. as others have said we will certainly mourn what we have lost if cameron get in

    • 78.
    • At 10:51 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Graham wrote:

    It’s a bit sweeping to say that ‘no modern prime minister’ has matched Blair in leaving office at a time of his own choosing and with a smile on his face. Surely that is even more true of Harold Wilson, for whom there was no pressure for him to go -indeed everyone was totally astonished at his decision. And if you look at the interview on the BBC website, though generally serious, he undoubtedly smiles too!

    • 79.
    • At 10:53 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Shane Morgan wrote:

    I am astounded at the fury that follows Blair.
    Nick’s biog is wholly accurate and balanced. What poor memories you have. The country was on its knees in 1997. TB brought it back onto its feet.
    There is no doubting Iraq was and is a disaster but there is a collective global responsibility. It does not fall in his or anyone elses lap.
    Look at what you have now, what you didn’t have then. Be measured and honest – we are doing ok actually.

    • 80.
    • At 10:54 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • William Benson wrote:

    The champagne has just gone in the fridge and should be nicely chilled in 7 weeks time to finally celebrate the departure of Blair. HOORAY!!

    • 81.
    • At 10:55 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • David wrote:

    I Think its far too simplistic and plain wrong to say tony blair was following thatchers legacy, i certainly dont think Thatcher put extra billions in the NHS and in education, brought in a minimum wage, tried to eliminate child poverty (and was on the way to achieving this aim until recently)and tried to redistribute wealth to the poorest in society ( Via tax credit system). Ok he made a terrible error over Iraq but lets not forget the domestic achievments. Tony Blair ill be missed lets hope Gordon Brown continus the good work.

    • 82.
    • At 10:55 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Justin Joseph wrote:

    All politicians should be on ?Performance Related Pay? and the perks and wealth they accumulated while serving the public must be made available to the public.

    Tories it is about time you wake up and get rid of this bunch of losers, who take the hard working & law abiding citizens for mugs. Wonder how much money is wasted in administering the so called TAX Credit gravy train & ask the so called Euro sceptic what the hell are they doing in Brussels? And how much is this costing the tax payers to entertain such hypocrites.

    Wake up everyone it is your right to demand answers from our so called politicians
    Voting must be made compulsory,same as serving in the jury service.

    • 83.
    • At 10:57 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard wrote:

    There’s nothing special about Blair. He was just another politician desperate for power at all costs (he’s even quoted as saying that New Labour’s greatest achievment was to win elections) who, because of his arrogance and refusal to listen, made more mistakes than most (Iraq, PFI, race relations, selling the country out to the US) and would have made more if he’d been able (the only reason we didn’t adopt the euro was because of Brown’s sensible (in hindsight) scepticism).

    As for the idea that Blair should be let off the hook because he honestly believed he was acting for the best, I’m afraid I can’t agree with that. If I make a mistake that big at work I get fired notwithstanding my state of mind when I made it. It sickens me the way that politicians steal our money to pay themselves and their cronies highly inflated salaries but are not subject to the same rules that apply to normal working people.

    Other than the political journalists, who appear to be having a collective fit of ecstacy over Blair this morning, I find it hard to believe he’ll be missed any more than any more than Thatcher or Major.

    • 84.
    • At 10:57 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Robin Armstrong wrote:

    I know journalists care little for facts when the powerful are speaking, but there is a small but important fact.

    Milosevic was not a dictator of Serbia. Awful as he may have been, he was elected President of Serbia on more than one occasion.

    Good riddance to the liar Blair

    • 85.
    • At 10:57 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gary Rae wrote:

    A balanced piece, Nick – as ever. History will judge Blair kindly. Even today, we should step back and look at the achievement in Northern Ireland and in the recent past, Bosnia. Is this the end of the performer-politician? Probably, if we discount Cameron as a freaky Blair-lite. That, in part, is not a good thing for politics in a 24 hour media world. There should been room for charisma as well as conviction in politics, Cameron knows that, Brown knows that. The trouble is Brown can’t do anything about it.

    • 86.
    • At 10:57 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul Alford wrote:

    At 10:31 AM on 10 May 2007, David Strong wrote:

    “Goodbye and good riddence…and at least we won’t have to endure his ghastly wife any longer”.

    Ah yes, a comment from someone politically astute…

    Why on earth take a swipe at his wife? For goodness sake, let’s please rise above that.

    • 87.
    • At 10:57 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Morrison wrote:

    I have to admit I am always slightly puzzled by the “economic miracle” of the Brown/Blair years. In effect, they have overseen the creation of younger generation – yes all our children – who will be saddled with student debt, increasing course fees and mortgages based on salary multiples beyond comprehension that will leave them in penury for decades to come. Whilst all around cronyism, quangoism, sleaze, Government financial waste and fat-cattery abound that puts the Thatcher years in the shade. Of course, they would say it’s globalisation and market forces – or boom and bust. Or is it? Here in Germany house prices have been relatively stable for almost a decade, the economy has recovered and living standards appear to be rising following integration. I can’t help but think that we have yet to reap the whirlwind in the UK of all this “prosperity.”

    • 88.
    • At 11:00 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris B wrote:

    Blair may not have been defenestrated in the same way that Thatcher was, but if he’d tried to hang on for another few years with opinion polls like they are at the moment you can bet that more than a few would have tried.

    • 89.
    • At 11:01 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tom Mooney wrote:

    I have worked hard for every single day of Tony Blairs ‘reign’ and of course for many before.I cannot say however that I am any better off or happier after 10 years of new Labour …. what I can see though is people all around me both unhappy and fearful for the future thanks to his policies on immigration and his failure to arrest the decline of our social, health and family lives.I never wanted utopia just a fairer and more pleasant society, where do we look for this now?

    • 90.
    • At 11:01 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Griffith wrote:

    Am I missing something, or isn’t the prime minster’s first duty when he decides to stand down to first advise the Sovereign of that decision? It is certainly not to trail it endlessly for months maybe years. And now he continues by advising his Cabinet, then his constituency and then The People. Has he told the Queen? I haven’t heard it mentioned.

    It must be the longest goodbye ever, and he’ll drag it on longer yet.

    We have one consolation. It is not the custom in this country, as it is in France, to continue addressing former prime ministers by the title they once held – for life!

    Goodbye “Tone” and good riddance.

    • 91.
    • At 11:03 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • matt d wrote:

    Inspirational leaders don’t come around all that often. Blair, building on the foundations of the late John Smith, resurrected Labour from the demise endured over years of Conservative rule. He brought an energy and zest to politics that had been buried post Thatcher. He offered promise and hope, vision and courage. As a human being yes he has made errors of judgement, as a world leader he has put the “Great” back in Britain.

    • 92.
    • At 11:03 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • peter wrote:

    I feel that after the irag invasion the country stabbed Mr Blair in the back. The people of Britain are not loyal, they are backstabbers.
    Two faced country

    • 93.
    • At 11:03 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mary Guy wrote:

    I find it ironic that Blair is constantly attacked for being insincere and for the Iraq war in the same breath. Whatever your views on Iraq, it seems to me that it is the one area where he did follow his own beliefs – it would have been much easier and politically advantageous to leave it to the UN and/or the US. I personally agree with most of what Nick said – too much spin but some solid achievements. Ten years is a very long time in politics and you won’t get a fair assessment of Blair for at least a further ten years

    • 94.
    • At 11:03 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ron Ball wrote:

    I am sorry, but I cannot accept that Tony Blair was anything other than the worst PM since WW II. Eden was bad but gone in 18 months and his intervention in Suez was far less of a disaster for Britain and the Middle East than Iraq has been. Blair will be remembered for Iraq above all things. This was not just a mistake it was a policy manufactured from lies, distortions and delusions. His alliance with George Bush and his crew has resulted in one of the worst foreign policy disasters by any country in a century. The slaughter continues and no one now has the slightest idea how the mess can be corrected.
    Blair’s governance at home has been one of lies, incompetence, excessive spending, hypocriscy and spin. Many things would have been improved if he had left them alone. But he did not. We are told that there are now more than 3,000 new criminal or civil offences for us to offend against; that over 250 organisations have the right to enter our homes for investigating what we are doing; that more and more information must be stored on government data bases and used willy nilly by all kinds of bureaucrats for purposes unknown; that everywhere it will be assumed that we are criminals unless we can prove otherwise. Blair’s government has destroyed many of the liberties, established over hundreds of years and with little consideration – all, of course, in the name of a fight against terrorism, largely created and demanded by his government’s actions. There is no control of immigration – we do not even know the correct figures for the numbers entering and leaving the country and there has been no significant attempt to build an infrastructure to cope. Blair’s government has had 10 years to act on the matter of pensions but has done little except cave in to demands that public pensions continue to be finaced by tax payers.
    Overall, he has associated with the rich, sought their company and presided over a marked increase in wealth differences between rich and poor. An impressive achievement for any Labour PM.
    We are well rid of him.
    Regards
    Ron Ball

    • 95.
    • At 11:03 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Joe wrote:

    Tony Blairs Legacy?
    Northern Ireland. “we will never negotiate with terrorists” I assume that doesnt count Irish ones.
    It will be interesting to see what sort of deal the Irish politicians have “negotiated” knowing that Tony had to get this agreed before he went.
    Education – more money, all paying for the pen pushers to draw up league tables.
    NHS – more money, all paying for the pen pushers to draw up leage tables.
    Peerages – more money for the Labour party coffers allegedly. Will this ever be brought to court?
    Taxes – Never raised income tax (apart from the NI) but increasing taxes on everything else is fair game.
    Iraq – he has pushed us into a war that he thought was correct. No firm evidence of that has ever been given. Maybe his next job will be searching for the weapons of mass destruction he was so sure were there..

    I think the Womens Institute had it right, he should be met outside the doors of No 10, not by a crowd of Labour Supporters bussed in to wave him goodbye, but by people who just give him a slow hand clap.

    He will not be missed by me, but the sad thing about politics these days is with him gone, there are many others just like him waiting to take over the reigns.

    • 96.
    • At 11:05 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jack Douglas wrote:

    Since the invasion of Iraq has delivered democracy and led to the fall of a dictator, what does Nick Robinson think Tony Blair was tragically wrong about? What Iraq lacks is security. Of course it had security before the invasion – it was a police state. I bet the trains ran on time too.

    • 97.
    • At 11:07 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    We are only ‘rich’ today because he plundered the pensions of tomorrow to squander on non-productive jobs.

    His ‘legacy’ will be felt for the next 50 years and it will hurt severely.

    • 98.
    • At 11:08 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Martin Kirk wrote:

    I think that among his many other faults, Blair will be remembered for the introduction of spin into the working of government to an unprecedented level.

    Ironically, it appears that this was believed much more by the political classes than by “real” people. I remember one reporter telling how he mentioned to a Downing Street aide that his mother was in hospital in a mixed-sex ward, and the aide looking horrified and exclaiming, “But we’ve abolished them”. For me, his story sums up so much of what has been wrong with this government.

    A previous commenter stated that running the country isn’t easy. Obviously true, but divorcing oneself from reality certainly makes it easier!

    • 99.
    • At 11:08 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • William Benson wrote:

    Does this mean that Blair is now free to be arrested for war crimes and the deaths of 100s of our brave soldiers?

    Surely as Blair lied and took us in to an illegal war that was nothing to do with the UK, the least we can do in memory of the fallen, is ensure he gets put on trial in The Hague?

    • 100.
    • At 11:09 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jim Fraser wrote:

    BLiar legacy: causing the british armed forces to participate in an illegal war and then not taking responsibility for it when found out. Pretty damning stuff. Then, when those men and women are stretched to their limit, allowing the British Army to shrink to a size such that it is theoretically not an army but a ‘defence force’. How does he get away with this? If it wasnt for Iraq, the Tony Blair era might have been known for its human rights and constitutional progress but I don’t think that will happen now. The Human Rights Act seems so out of character for the Blair premiership that it will be credited to others: perhaps Cherie. That’s it, this will be known as the Cherie Booth Era!

    • 101.
    • At 11:10 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • calypso wrote:

    At lunch yesterday I asked someone who they though would take over Gordon Brown’s job – the answer was David Cameron – and how we all smiled. Basically, what ever wonderful things TB may have achieved, (civil partnerships, N Ireland) they are all coloured by Iraq. It will haunt him to the end of his days.

    • 102.
    • At 11:11 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tony wrote:

    I think Nick was right – Blair’s problem was that he was obsessed with his own celebrity and came to beleive his own propaganda and spin. In reality he was just a second-rate mind trying his best to do a difficult job and getting it wrong too much of the time. Not a bad man but just weak and incompetent for the job.

    Now he’s gone, please can we get back to serious leaders. I may not have agreed with Maggie but at least respected her.

    • 103.
    • At 11:13 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Keith F wrote:

    When first elected there was so much promise – but it has all faded so dramatically.
    What I shall remember him for is his short-termism and promotion of simplistic changes such as the promotion of faith schools (which have the potential for severe social disruption in the future), devolution without English regionalisation with identical powers (which has the obvious potential to break up the UK), failure to truly engage with Europe, outsourcing of NHS work in England to private suppliers as a first step towards commercialisation of the whole NHS and the tragic involvement in Iraq which has made Britain a more dangerous place to live in and damaged the national reputation.
    And finally allowing those silly number plates on cars with their numerous tribal tokens which epitomise the whole woolly experience.
    Yes, there have been good things, but one cannot help but remember these bad ones….

    • 104.
    • At 11:13 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Kate wrote:

    I don’t understand all the criticism heaped on Tony Blair to be honest. He has transformed this country so much that I’m shocked people speak about him with such contempt and blaim all the woes of the world on him. Imagine if we were in a position now where there was no minimum wage, or the NHS was still in the dire straits the Tories left it in.

    Tories will cut public spending and make the situation worse if they get back into power, and don’t forget the Tories were also in favour of the war in Iraq. Unfortunately for Tony Blair, his name will always be synonomous with Iraq, however I believe that any party in government at the time would have taken the same action. In today’s system of international cooperation, it would be impossible for the UK to refuse to cooperate with America. This is an unfortunate situation, particularly considering what an idiot George W. Bush is, however it would have happened no matter who had been in power.

    Why do people build up so much hate and resentment towards politicians? They’re doing their job – running the country. You can’t please everybody all the time so the best they can hope to do is attempt to improve the living conditions of the population and hope that at some point in the future people will realise the good in the action that’s been taken. People are too self-centred these days to look at this country in comparison to many around the world and realise that we are a hundred times better off than most people, even Americans. We have a national health service and they don’t, their minimum wage is virtually half of ours, and the list goes on.

    I think people should realise what a talented individual Tony Blair actually is. I worry about who will replace him, personally I don’t think Gordon Brown has the strength of character and the same ability to be Prime Minister. I’m sure it will the case that once Tony Blair has gone, and the impact of his departure is felt, that he will be sadly missed.

    • 105.
    • At 11:14 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Pritchard wrote:

    Who are these idiots who keep lining up to moan about Tony Blair being “neo-liberal” and “Thatcher mark II”. So what’s the economic policy alternative? Socialism? Hello? Where have you been for the last eighteen years? People who want socialism should go to Venezuela, I’m sure they’ll be happy there.

    Tony has been a good Prime Minister on the whole. Iraq turned out to be a mistake, but a mistake made by many, many people. People who think he isn’t honest or sincere are bad judges of character. Or perhaps they just project their own personality traits onto others.

    • 106.
    • At 11:15 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Colin Shearring wrote:

    A couple of weeks before John Smiths untimely death I had a meeting in Whitehall with my MP and the then Food Minister David McClean. Our competitor attended with their MP a young Tony Blair. After we left the meeting I turned to my MP and said well if he ever becomes Labour leader we(Conservatives) are stuffed. Two weeks later John Smith died and the rest is history.

    The young Tonly Blair was smart, clever and knew what was needed.

    So what has changed – well power corrupts they say and Tony Blairs legacy will include this damming observation. He has done more to damage the reputation of parliament and government than anyone, from Ecclestone to Levy sleaze has followed this government and unlike his predecessors resignations have been rare.

    Who else would have forged a special relationship with Bush Jnr and misled both parialment and people to take us into a war that if not illegal has certainly been immoral.

    The saving grace is that I make this prediction similar to the comments I made many years ago – If Brown ever becoimes PM then Cameron will be laughing all the way to No 10.

    • 107.
    • At 11:16 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jeremy wrote:

    To Winston DW – the reason people are angry is because they have been lied to repeatedly by this appalling government – not just on Iraq but in other areas too – ie foundation hsopitals, sleaze (remember Bernie Ecclestone, Hinduja brothers).

    This Government has been the most hypocritical and populist in the history of the country. They criticised the Tories repeatedly in opposition and in Government have done exactly the same thing – how can that be anything but hypocrisy?

    And as for populism – this Government lives and breathes it – particularly in terms of law and order and home security where there motto has been – let’s become ever more intolerant and like a parody of Alf Garnett, whilst fundamental freedoms have been eroded away as a result of the so-called “war on terror” – which has become more of a war against people who don’t agree with us.

    They are totally unprincipled and have shown a spiteful vindictiveness which has been shocking – remember what happened to David Kelly. For that alone, no Government should ever be forgiven.

    They have also been largely responsible for the extreme cynicisn of politicians that now exists in society. When you have a Government adviser say that 9/11 is a good day to bury bad news, you know that the depths have been plumbed as never before.

    But even if none of this were true, Iraq alone would be a reason to detest Blair and everything he stands for. He lied about WMD, he knew it was a lie and he didn’t care – hundreds aof thousands have died, not to mention that many more physically and psychologically scarred and largely abandoned.

    As for having “better things to write about”, people like me are commenting because we are so outraged at what this man has done and the way he is putting such a deceptive gloss on it all.

    I am very proud to have opposed this deceitful man from the beginning. I never voted for him – even in 1997 when I was desperate to get the Tories out – and will never again vote for the Labour Party unless they admit publically that they misled about Iraq – that is Gordon Brown’s test to get my vote.

    • 108.
    • At 11:16 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Quentin Sadler wrote:

    I am appalled by some of the comments here, where have these people been for 10 years? A Prime Minister doing things that you people dissaprove of does not make him evil, arrogant, a liar or corrrupt. You not agreeing with something he says does not make him a liar.

    Contrary to some posts here, he did not promise the earth in 1997, if anything he promised too little, but if people wanted more that is not his fault.

    I am not a great fan of Mr Blair, he did things of which I do not approve, but in the main he made this country a more humane, liberal and better place to be – how quickly people forget.

    He is also the best and most charming British political communicator of my lifetime (Clinton is the world’s best!) and he will be sorely missed for that alone, I believe.

    He has my respect and gratitude for many things and I wish him well.

    • 109.
    • At 11:18 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John white wrote:

    So Tony has decided to cut and run. I cannot blame him. He is the first serving Prime Minister to have the Plod knocking at the door of no 10. In his headlong rush to crush the nationalists in Scotland and Wales he has overseen a botched devolution of political power which will haunt us for generations to come. He never had the courage to fire Gordon Brown for disloyalty which was a huge mistake. Yes it was prudent Gordon who sold the Nation’s gold reserves at the bottom of the market, raided the pension funds and lost billions in his tax credits scheme. Everywhere we look there are brave words but no delivery. Try registering with an NHS dentist as a new patient. Tony it was a good innings which in the absence of a credible political opposition has lasted five years too long. Save us the encores you are a busted flush.

    • 110.
    • At 11:20 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steve wrote:

    Apart from the political groupies and his hangers on there will be few people who will miss this vain, self-regarding actor.

    He has eroded public confidence in politics, the civil service, the police and there are few areas that he has not touched that he has made worse.

    As the public began to see through him (many of them quicker than the political analysts and editors)he has lost any pretence of representing them and has concentrated on increasing his future earnings and reputation. A shameful performance and a shame that few people held him to account.

    • 111.
    • At 11:20 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • K Monaghan wrote:

    Dear me, you would think we are about to lose a head of state instead of a mere Prime Minister by the tome of today�s reporting by the BBC. The article by the normally impartial (well, for the BBC anyway) being an example of the over the top eulogising and analysis of Blair�s premiership. With adjectives such as �historic� and �momentous� one would think the world is about to change on its axis!

    He is nothing more than �a here today gone tomorrow politician�, if I may quote the late great Sir Robin Day (who surely would have none of the slavish reporting we have seen today).

    So why the frenzy over a PM who has certainly not delivered on his �things can only get better� message from May 1997. . I am at a loss as to why Mr Robinson and his BBC colleagues get so worked up over a man that has appeased the IRA yet claims to be strong in his fight against terrorism. A fight that he is continually thwarted because of the human rights legislation he introduced together with the malaise of political correctness that prevails in every government institution. The selling of honours for cash, the war in Iraq , stealth taxes , the raid on pensions – the list goes on. If it were a Conservative PM, with a record as described, that was about to resign in this manner I doubt we would be witnessing the gushing from the BBC as we are today. That perhaps is part of the legacy he leaves behind, a truly subservient BBC. It started in May 1997 with a mutual love-in; it has now become a case of the BBC effectively becoming Blair (and Labour�s) PR department. A truly sad state of affairs for a state funded organisation. Is this the �last hurrah� with the �crowds begging for more� that Blair�s people talked about? They certainly wont be disappointed with the BBC�s efforts today.

    • 112.
    • At 11:21 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Anonymous wrote:

    hi nick i won’t be shedding a tear for blair today his promised so much and delievered so little whats more i don’t see gordon brown being any better if not worse.

    i bet there will be some labour mps saying after today oh no what have we done

    • 113.
    • At 11:21 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • harry wrote:

    Why do we forget the good things this man has done for this country.Dont worry,we will see fire when cameron takes over. NHS,Economy,famillies have enough or little support.

    • 114.
    • At 11:21 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jingo wrote:

    I wish people realised how influenced they are by the press and made decisions for themselves. I guess the biggest failing of democracy is that everyone gets an equal vote, regardless of how uninformed or bias they are.

    I’m not a Labour supporter or a supporter of anything else, i support what i think is best. For the last 10 years i’ve been a Labour supporter, mostly becuase of Blair, right now i have no idea who i support now he’s gone.

    I hope he carries on playing to his abilities for the better of the country/world now that the negative attitude of this country to anyone in power is removed.

    • 115.
    • At 11:22 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chuck Unsworth wrote:

    “I have no doubt that he’ll be missed”

    You’re probably right. But I sure as hell would like to take another shot.

    He’ll be missed in much the same way as a migraine…

    • 116.
    • At 11:23 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steven Manson wrote:

    Shane Morgan, #79 writes,

    “The country was on its knees in 1997”

    Just what do you think it’s like today? A utopia?

    What a befuddled memory you must have. It was a good deal better in 1996 than it was in 1979, the last time Labour managed to get their soiled hands on power!

    • 117.
    • At 11:24 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Albert wrote:

    The best PM Britain has ever produced. Tont Blair, changed the Labour party, Unions, Britain’s conservative attitude, and mentality, the world politics, but most of all, the conservative party which had it’s head stuck in the sand denying that the world had changed from being conservative and idiologist. Politics have to change according to the times and according to the people’s wishes, and needs! This is what Tony Blair taught us ex Tories!Good luck Gordon.

    • 118.
    • At 11:24 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Karl Stone wrote:

    Tony Blair 1997-2001

    Did a good job. Minuium Wage, more public spending, good economy etc.

    2001-2007

    Complete diaster! Going to war with Iraq not a good idea. Becoming Bush’s puppett not clever.
    I stopped voting Labour in 2005 nice one tone and I won’t be about start with chubby brown in power!

    Good Riddance I say!

    • 119.
    • At 11:28 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Natalia Blanchfield wrote:

    What on earth is ‘John Griffith’ talking about? who cares whether Tony has told the queen! I for one am more interested in how Britain will change once he has left – He has left behind many good legacies but yes his time has come to move on and make way for new thinkers and policies. I will watch the transition with interest….

    Long Live Labour!!

    • 120.
    • At 11:29 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew James Edgington wrote:

    Excellent summary. For me Tony Blair has something of the Shakespearian tragic hero about him. He could have been truly great, but had a fatal flaw which was his rather out-dated religious certainty – shared with Bush – about ‘the war on terror’. This led to the disaster of Iraq and will always throw a deep shadow over his spell in office.

    • 121.
    • At 11:30 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Emily Benn wrote:

    Nick,

    Your dislike of Tony Blair is evident from almost everything i see from you, but i thought i might as well tell you what a 17 year old from South London thinks…

    Minimum wage, Paternity and increased maternity leave, Record employment levels, sustained economic growth, record numbers in higher education, record school results (and for those who say A levels are too easy, coming from someone whose doing them now thats just not true). Not headline-grabbing policies, but things that have made a huge difference – down to Tony Blair.

    During the last Tory government i may have been young but i saw poverty and unemployment here in south london; issues where amazing progress has been made. 10 years on and things have totally changed. Where are the NHS winter crises? or the constant fear of unemployment? I am proud to be part of the school and health systems that have been transformed in Croydon. Mayday hospital as an example has record numbers of doctors and nurses and a massive renewal building project – only enabled by the Blair Government.

    You get flack for doing what you think is the right thing. At least he had the courage and leadership to pursue Iraq in 2003. If some of the inteligence was wrong (which we only now know), that does not amount to lies. If people are naive enough to believe that hes a liar then let them, if you look deeper you can see thats completely false. Someone mentioned tuition fees – when i (hopefully) get into university in the next year, i know that its going to be better funded than ever before. And its enabled people who i know in some of the most depreved areas of the city – who previously never dreamed of going to University – to think they have a chance. If that isnt a great thing i dont know what is.

    All this ‘sleaze’ isnt generated by him – its the media out of control. I can’t stand the fact that politicians (of all parties) are villified when the majority are only trying to do their best and what they think is right. You think its easy being an MP or PM? much easier just to watch on the sidelines and comment without making any change yourself.

    What do i know? i cant even vote yet, i dont earn a living yet nor pay tax. But i look forward to the day i can contribute to health and education and everything our welfare state stands to protect. Public services i am confident in now because of 10 years of record investment, impossible without Blair.

    My greatest regret is that i never had the change to vote for him; If only he could stay.

    • 122.
    • At 11:30 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • J Cooper wrote:

    Nickl has fallen for the spin himself! “Public services benefited from huge investment”

    It’s not ‘investment’ it’s spending. Money that’s gone, never to be seen again. Much of it on unsusatiinable and unfunded public sector pensions and wage rises which us in the private sector can only dream of. And let’s not forget, it’s all our own money (or borrowed, Brown has been borrowing 3 billion a month for several years).

    Any fool can spend tens of billions and make things a bit better. The question is, was it value for all that money? Highly debatable.

    • 123.
    • At 11:30 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • George wrote:

    I can’t believe the sycophantic nonsense spouting from our political commentators…I think I must have been observing a different PM for the last ten years. The PM I’ve observed is leaving nothing but a legacy of absolute, unqualified incompetence, falling from one calamity to the next, with nothing in between except buck passing, bluff and even greater calamity.
    Even forgetting about his totally incompetent foreign policy, his record in public services with its waste and inefficiency, the collapse of prison places, the justice system and immigration control, the humiliating European rebate give away, the half baked, half thought out reform of the constitution with the Lords and devolution left in chaos…all he has touched is left in a total shambles, tottering on the brink of complete collapse.
    And the worst thing is he knows it. Even after this disastrous tinkering in all areas of government, the only two things he now tries to take credit for is the economy and Northern Ireland� both far more thanks to Thatcher and Major respectively.

    • 124.
    • At 11:31 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Simon wrote:

    It seems from these posts that Tony Blair is being attacked equally from the Right and the Left, so he must have been doing something right for the last 10 years.

    • 125.
    • At 11:32 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Raj Dee wrote:

    Tony Blair will be remembered as a decent, smart and hard working man whose one BIG big mistake was to invade Iraq, and then compounding his one big error by resolutely denying that this act was fatal faux pas.

    • 126.
    • At 11:33 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • HOWARD wrote:

    When will anyone relise that economic stablity in Britain was brought about by economic policies put in place during the 80s and nineties by the tories.
    This did mean social upheaval at the time but it was necessary to make our country competative and an attractive place to do business and prosper.
    This enabled Britain to take advantage of the continued stabilty and growth of the global market throughout the nineties to date..

    What has Blair brown actually done with this golden era of economic stablity?
    increase the tax burden? Yes increase public investment with little or no effect?Yes

    Create an ever larger hole in public sector borrowing?yes.
    regulate and slowly undo the deregulation of the 80s 90s which made us competative in the first place?yes.
    Constrain civil liberties and become more and more intrusive into peoples lives? yes
    Become a postive influence on the world stage? no
    Eridicate sleaze from politics? I dont think so its got worse.
    Tackle or at least put the enviroment to the forefront of the polictical spectrum? No.
    Please wake up and vote them out!

    • 127.
    • At 11:35 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Patrick Murphy wrote:

    Blair has been a professional amongst amateurs both at home and abroad – past and present – and the UK will miss him as a leader.

    He made a mistake over Iraq – a big mistake – but in ten years he has lead this country through a transformation, socially and economically, that has created one of the best places to live in the world.

    I grew up in the West of Scotland in the late 70s and 80s and saw my town and country ruined by Thatcher and the Tories. I moved to England and saw the mess that Major and his lot made in the early 90s, especially the ERM debacle and the ruinous interest rates that followed.

    The UK is now a different country from the one I grew up in – and it’s changed for the better.

    If the 70s were “life on Mars” then the 80s and early 90s were “life in hell” for pretty much the entire nation outside the South-East.

    Since Blair came to power, we have had stability, growth and liberalisation throughout the country un-matched in decades – if ever. Our standing internationally is reflected in our success in winning the 2012 Olympics and our economy is a powerhouse compared to the post-ERM mess that Major left.

    If there have been failings in the New Labour government they have been from other people, such as Mandelson, Byars and Blunkett (and even Prescott). It is unfair to blame Blair for their indiscretions.

    Heaven knows where we’d be if the calamity of the Major government had continued – supplying superguns to Iraq, wrecking the economy and blatant lying (not spin – not colouring the truth – but crooked lies from people like Aitken and Archer who were downright criminals).

    I for one am a little nervous of the future without Blair. I don’t have much confidence in Brown or Cameron to provide leadership (bring back Charlie Kennedy) and take the unimaginably hard decisions that Blair has had to take over the past decade.

    But I do thank Tony Blair and wish him and his family the very best for the future.

    • 128.
    • At 11:36 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • rod jones wrote:

    I believe that Tony Blair will be missed- Ok he made a tragic mistake with Iraq though he believed it better to rid the country of Saddam Hussein who was a tyranical dictator.
    Apart from that he has been a very charismistic leader with some good ideas.
    The thing that disturbs me is his European policies which have been too low key – for instance I believe that we should take a greater interest in Europe as a full member.
    We should have joined the euro years ago and small as it may be when I see car registrations in other European countries with the euro logo
    and compare with this country I am totally bemused.
    Another victory for the euro sceptics and for those living in the past I am afraid.
    Otherwise good luck to you Tony in your retirement.

    • 129.
    • At 11:36 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    Surely the big question now is who will succeed Blair?

    Personally, I hope it is Brown, because rich powerful men like him always want what is best for everybody.

    • 130.
    • At 11:36 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Simon wrote:

    Blair’s legacy – War, Waste & MRSA

    Points 2,3,5,6 below are minor and/or hard to prove.
    Point 7. was started by John Major, no credit ever given by Blah
    Point 4. What a wasted opportunity to improve efficiency. Any fool can spend and build up debt. No doubt the Tories will get the blame for clearing the mess up.

    One thing to be said for Blair – In 8 weeks time he will not be the most despised PM this century
    “He has done a lot wrong eg iraq and continuation of sleaze BUT

    1. minimum wage (at the cost of jobs)
    2. civil partnerships
    3. much greater equality
    4. massive investment in public services
    5. a fairer society
    6. made adoption easier and fairer
    7. brought peace to northern ireland”

    • 131.
    • At 11:37 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dean Bullen wrote:

    This is as good a critique of the Blair premiership as I am likely to read.

    • 132.
    • At 11:37 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Neil Sands wrote:

    You can’t win, can you Nick? According to comments here you have an obvious Tory bias, and an obvious Labour bias. I’m beginning to think that ‘bias’ is what you have when someone disagrees with you.

    • 133.
    • At 11:37 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Howard (Manchetser) wrote:

    Tony may be stepping down in one sense but he is man likely to remain in the public eye, rather like Bill Clinton but much more so.

    I hope that those responsible for the security of former Prime Ministers can live up to the task ahead, particularly if he intends to do the lecture circuit. Keeping a serving Prime Minister safe is one thing, but a private individual travelling the World?

    • 134.
    • At 11:38 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Megan wrote:

    Will miss Blair 😦

    • 135.
    • At 11:39 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter North wrote:

    How ironic that, for someone who favours style over substance, Tony Bliar (sic) doesn’t appear to appreciate the immense damage that he has done to the international reputation of the UK. Prior to the Iraq debacle the UK was viewed as, fundamentally, an honest and impartial broker in international affairs. Unfortunately, Blair’s willingness to plunge the UK into an illegal war changed all that. The UK is now seen as America’s poodle, with no independent foreign policy of its own. In his overweening eagerness to make his own reputation shine, Blair has tarnished that of the UK in the eyes of the international community. In areas of influence where we were once trusted, British involvement is now viewed with suspicion. All this could, perhaps, be forgiven in time. However, the “Vietnam-in-the-sand” that is Iraq has caused countless thousands of unnecessary deaths as a direct result of Blair’s interference, and this fact simply cannot be shrugged off. Worse, there is absolutely no prospect whatsoever of Britain being able to disentangle itself from Iraq for at least another five years. Therefore, long after ex-PM Tony Blair is earning handsome fees on the US lecture circuit, people in Iraq (whether British soldiers or Iraqi civilians) will keep on dying as direct result of his actions. I firmly believe that future historians will judge Tony Blair’s legacy harshly.

    • 136.
    • At 11:40 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • robert mee wrote:

    He lied to us.
    He lied to himself.
    Lies, lies, lies and lies are the four cornerstones of his legacy…
    …and Nick, he will not be missed. Because one thing is for certain he will not be going away! To do so would require humility, self-respect and confidence. John Major should be his role model in how to behave post-No 10, but it is not one he will pursue – we can be certain he will not!

    • 137.
    • At 11:40 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • William Fletcher wrote:

    He won’t be missed! Good riddance to the only war criminal to have held the post of PM!

    • 138.
    • At 11:40 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Simon Benson wrote:

    I am a Wholly TB supporter, Even on the Iraq issue. The media always wants news, so they criticises how many lives have been wasted in Iraq…But I truly believe the Country has gained a lot from this War that the government don’t want to talk about.
    Yes NHS issue, Eductaton? He is not perfect , Obviously. but he still is one of the best in the world, which we can’t deny

    • 139.
    • At 11:41 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • David L.Yeld wrote:

    Perhaps the saddest things about the Blair Era are the unfulfilled promises. the failed initiatives, the criminal waste of money and resources. But the very worst legacy is surely the daily count of bodies in Iraq.
    He may well leave Downing Street with a smile but behind the smile will be the knowledge that his potential was never realised. He will be remembered but only for the wrong reasons and those reasons we know only too well.
    A Prime Minister best forgotten

    • 140.
    • At 11:42 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Suresh Gautam wrote:

    Blair gave credibility to the Labour Party and, by and large, brought recognition to the United Kingdom. Hec will be long remembered for not just the minimum wage, independence of the Bank of England and, of course, successful culmination of the peace process in N. Ireland but also for his brilliant oratory.

    Yes, war in Iraq was supported by bad and inaccurate “intelligence”, however, he stood up in many other conflicts quite successfuly such as Kosovo.

    I will miss him. Yes and I will still vote for the Labour party.

    • 141.
    • At 11:42 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Craig wrote:

    Blair’s legacy will be that he jumped before he was pushed.

    Had he not already admitted he would stay at the helm for the full fourth term after winning the 2005 General Election, he would have almost certainly been forced out of office by now.

    Instead we have been left a weakened government and an ineffective Prime Minister more interested in bulking up his memoirs with tales of international heroics and landing a cushdy job with a multinational Labour donor.

    Pompous prime-ministerial rule, poor foreign policy, salacious spin and neglect of the core issues at home (NHS, crime, welfare & immigration) will also be attributed to Blair’s time at the top.

    And to replace him we have a dour Scot whose plundering of the pensions to prop up an economy has proved he is as crafty as his predecessor.

    And when the economic bubble bursts and the Government hastily calls a General Election Ol’ Blue Blair – David Cameron will inevitably emerge victorious to fight the recession.

    Instead, I would like to see a hung parliament. OK, this will cause much instability and uncertainty, but parties will finally have to listen to the people they represent and only then can a worthy party and leader emerge to tackle the issues that people care about.

    Governments spend their time in power trying to right the wrongs’ of the previous government, putting through new legislation without ever effectively tackling the problem.

    The moment I see a National Health Service free from MRSA and in full working order, a drop in crime rates and immigration under control, I will have seen a Prime Minister with a true legacy.

    • 142.
    • At 11:44 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Albert wrote:

    Not missed at all, I am sure Nick.
    What realy is sickening is the self delusion. It is said that between 400,000 and 600,000 noncombatant Iraqis have been killed and hundreds of thousands of children maimed for life as a result of our joint actions in an unnecessary war. Who will accept the responsibility for this. The English people in whose name this war was not fought? Does Blair ever mention this. Never

    • 143.
    • At 11:44 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • William Benson wrote:

    Blair came to power claiming ‘things can only get better’.

    We are still waiting.

    • 144.
    • At 11:45 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tony Crooks wrote:

    In 1997 Tony Blair arrived at Downing Street promising a new ‘gold standard’ in the way politics in the UK would be conducted.

    In 2007 we now know that the ‘gold’ was pyrites. All glister but no worth.

    Blair will certainly be remembered by the many he has let down over the last 10 years but, sadly, for all he promised he will not be missed – he has ‘presided’ over a cheapening of the conduct of politics to a low that was once thought impossible rather than unlikely.

    May history be unkind to him.

    • 145.
    • At 11:45 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark Allen wrote:

    The arrogance of the man knows no bounds; let me tell you that if in his inflated self righteous opinion Mr Blair considers that David Cameron is his “legacy” then Blair was “Thatcher’s!”

    New Labour I don’t think New Tory by all means.

    We are of course a conservative nation in the main which is why he was successful, whereas I am in the socialist minority, but I am most definitely in the “loathe him” camp.

    I will shed no tears for his departure but will cry in despair if his successor is Brown as trumpeted by a weak willed political Party bereft of compassionate leadership.

    • 146.
    • At 11:45 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Timothy Gear wrote:

    William Hauge – Shadow Foreign Secretary – hit the nail right on the head when he claimed the reason for the Conservative Party’s failure to win a General Election since 1992 is because Tony Blair is really a conservative politician. Margaret Thatcher always said she never saw socialism in him and I believe it lies on his background.

    Personally, I’m a Tory but I agree with some of his views. It’s interesting to ponder whether Gordon Brown would have been just as successful had he lead Labour in the 1997 General Election – I honestly doubt it. Mr. Blair’s demeanour is inspiring and his charisma is second to none. Quite the opposite for the Chancellor. He is best as Chancellor – not Prime Minister.

    • 147.
    • At 11:47 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Helen Smith wrote:

    Hahaha! It makes me laugh when people say that Blair proved Thatcher wrong and that society does exist, and that he got rid of the selfish disregard for others that she encouraged etc. etc., if she was so bad, how come he copied her so much? Let’s face it, it was her policies that got Britain back on it’s feet, and took it out of the mess that Labour got us into in the first place. She was the one who got rid of Clause IV. And Nick – you say you mean that not as praise…are you sure?

    • 148.
    • At 11:50 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tim Scott wrote:

    There have been many good things which Tony Blair has done which can not be denied. Such as the peace settlement for Northern Ireland and a prospering economy. However the Blair years have seen the increased bureauracey of every day life, we have also seen a disaster that will be Blairs legacey Iraq and the increased presidentialisation of the office of the first Lord of the Treasurey or PM. Accountability has gone out of the window with the increase use of spin and sleaze has been an issue, maybe not as big as an issue seen in the Major years but it has been there.

    • 149.
    • At 11:50 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Anonymous wrote:

    His main legacies are:
    1. Devolution (which may lead to Scottish independence).
    2. The lessening of our civil liberties – i.e. the banning of unauthorised demonstrations within Westminster, the internment without trial of terrorism suspects and ID cards if they are ever introduced,
    3.The authoritarian smoking ban,
    4.The disasterous Iraq war,
    5. David Cameron

    • 150.
    • At 11:50 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Phil wrote:

    In 1997 you waited 3 years for a hip operation, 2 years for a cataract operation, up to 4 years for a simple hernia repair.

    In 2007 you wait less than 18 weeks

    Enough said.

    • 151.
    • At 11:51 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • james wild wrote:

    His main legacies are:
    1. Devolution (which may lead to Scottish independence).
    2. The lessening of our civil liberties – i.e. the banning of unauthorised demonstrations within Westminster, the internment without trial of terrorism suspects and ID cards if they are ever introduced,
    3.The authoritarian smoking ban,
    4.The disasterous Iraq war,
    5. David Cameron

    • 152.
    • At 11:51 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    I am concerned about Home issues, crime, law & order etc. There needed to be a more diciplined approach. Too many criminals, continue unabated because they know they can get away with it.

    • 153.
    • At 11:51 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Sophie wrote:

    I’m definitely not looking forward to Gordon Brown taking over – he looks to be uninspirational and without charisma.

    I’m almost certain that if he were running an electoral campaign, Labour would be voted out in a jiffy to be replaced by Cameron, the new apple of the public’s eye.

    • 154.
    • At 11:52 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard Marriott wrote:

    What the UK needed from Blair was long lasting reform of the public services to make them fit for the 21st Century. A Labour Government elected in 1997 with a huge majority and with public goodwill behind it, could have done what was necessary to make public services responsive to the needs of the consumers of those services. Instead, Blair chickened out and Brown just threw money at unreformed public services. His other legacies speak for themselves – the disaster of devolution which has left England disadvantaged and threatens the Union, a mess with the House of Lords and Blair’s biggest and worst legacy – mass immigration brought about by loss of control of our borders!

    Blair’s legacy has already been written in the blood of nearly three-quarters of a million dead Iraqis. If Brown has any sense he will call a full public inquiry into Iraq when he takes office. He has an opportunity which Blair has never had, despite much public pleading: to draw a line under Iraq and move on. If Brown doesn’t take the opportunity it won’t take long for the antipathy and hatred felt towards Blair to shift to Brown. He’ll be lucky is he has three months as a honemoon; he’s too well known to the public. If he – Brown – is to stand any chance at the next election he needs to decisively distance himself from Blair and Blairism: an inquiry into Iraq would be the best way to do that. If he doesn’t he will lose the next general election, and he will deserve to.

    • 156.
    • At 11:54 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Derek wrote:

    Thanks for your service to UK mr. Blair…

    You will be dearly missed and people tend to have forgotten all your achievements in the last ten years.

    God forbid, another ‘taste of Torys’ will remind people how good and thoughtful leader you are. I have never been more proud of my prime minister.

    Among the above comments:

    “because of your Tory bias”

    and

    “your bias towards Labour is painfully evident”

    This suggests you’re doing your job well, Nick.

    • 158.
    • At 11:55 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • douglas wrote:

    Blair is credited with current N. Ireland peace.

    Its ironic that, at the same time as initiating wars against terrorism in Iraq, etc., he initiates peace in NI by giving control of the country to terrorists.

    • 159.
    • At 11:59 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jim Langlands wrote:

    Nobody mentioned “Cash for Honours”

    • 160.
    • At 11:59 AM on 10 May 2007,
    • Hermann wrote:

    Despite Iraq there are more positives for which to thank Blair, than negatives for which to damn him.

    Not least, he saw that the previous 18 years of Conservative rule had truly pulled up a disgusting, delusional, dying country by the bootstraps and he did little to reverse the good work that had preceded him.

    By leaving Brown at the Treasury for 10 years during which the world economy swept us along to inevitable prosperity, he perhaps saved other departments from suffering direct rule under the dead hand of this talentless, self-satisfied, old-Labour Mr Tax ‘n’ Spend.

    Northern Ireland has been a success (thanks, John Major and Mo Mowlam too) and Europe has been gently stirred to look at itself anew. And there’s no denying (the jibes about being Bush’s poodle being much nonsense) that Blair has stood up for Britain in the world when this was needed.

    On the negative side — he has insinuated political correctness into every facet of life, and pc unconstrained is in truth a denial of liberal democracy and freedom of speech that we might have all come to rue, were there not now such a backlash against it.

    Then there was Iraq — an action contemplated and countenanced, I believe, for the best of reasons (what a shame the peoples of other tortured lands could not have attracted equal international concern) but undertaken with the worst of muddled reasoning and a mind-boggling degree of stupidity.

    But his worst legacy is to leave us with no choice but Brown. Here comes another Callaghan, but far less fun (!!) who will eventually limp off the stage muttering “what crisis”. We have to hope there will be a latter-day equal of Thatcher waiting to take up the reins and pull the country back on course again.

    • 161.
    • At 12:01 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew Morrice wrote:

    You say that he has not “been forced out” however that is exactly what has happened. He was forced to say he would not go on and on by his own party because of the mistakes he had made. Do you really think he wants to go now? Ofcourse not. He is being forced out before he wants to go.

    • 162.
    • At 12:03 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Spencer Turnbull wrote:

    Dear Nick,

    I do believe you are on cloud cuckoo land if you think we will miss him. Do you think your opinions are based on being fully impartial or biased because you have been in the Westminster bubble for so long? Really you need to understand that you may be impressed with his Goebbel’s like spin that He was the one who achieved everything. As the good book says a righteous mans deeds are all forgotten when he sins. TB’s biggest sin of all was to not ask this country for forgiveness for his handling of the Iraq war. He has proved to be a man of self-service rather than one who serves. If he was the latter he would have resigned ages ago. It must have been hard for him to leave the gravy train.

    • 163.
    • At 12:04 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dan wrote:

    Tony Blair won’t be missed by the majority. He has been a disaster. He has divided the country deliberately to try and get it into Europe. He has started wars overseas which have caused so many fatalities. It’s a war no one wanted or indeed wants. It will take 30 years to put right his 10 years of damage to the UK and it’s reputation globally.

    • 164.
    • At 12:04 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • naomim wrote:

    I guess that its inevitable that the post mortems start so quickly but I have to say that MY life has been better under this government that it was under the previous tory one. My son is no longer considered to be a car pinching hooligan simply because I am a sinlge parent family. My children have benefitted from the massive investment in eduction and childcare that has enabled me to go bakc to work and secure employment. I have only ever had great treatment in the NHS…… I could go on.

    NO politicain will EVER be perfect and we are fools if we expect them to be.

    • 165.
    • At 12:04 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Bryan O’Donoghue wrote:

    I think Tony Blair has been seriously underappreciated for his achievement of peace in Northern Ireland. Certainly the British media, doesn’t give him the credit I believe he deserves for that enduring and skilful delivery, in Northern Ireland.
    Taken in context of literally decades in fact centuries of power struggle between two tribes for want of a better word, Tony Blair has played a critical part in bringing a meaningful settlement to the great old “Irish question”.
    Make no mistake, Tony Blair has done what every other British Prime Minister, from Gladstone to John Major never managed to do, and that is bring Irish nationalism and British Unionism to an agreed compromise.
    Having studied the history of the thing, I believe in 100 years, this is what will be regarded as Tony Blair’s real legacy, not some tawdry miss-steps over the Millennium dome or some vague criticism of spin.
    Indeed Iraq has been the issue to fell Tony Blair, however, does anybody seriously believe that any other British Prime Minister would have deviated from the 60 year “special relationship” forged with the United States over this issue ?
    Tony Blair protected the UK’s privileged position with respect to the United States, in line with decades of support for US global policy, subjects in the UK, should criticise the policy that led to war, a long policy exponentiated through many Conservative and Labour administrations, not the man, Tony Blair, for keeping with the “special relationship” tradition.

    • 166.
    • At 12:06 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nigel wrote:

    Tony Blair is going? “Rejoice! Rejoice!”

    Gordon Brown is taking over? ” God help us all.”

    • 167.
    • At 12:09 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • andrew levens wrote:

    Matt Parker: so anything’s OK as long as you ‘genuinely believe what you are doing is right’? In that case I suppose you hold Adolf Hitler and Stalin in high regard. Excuse me, but in the UK we expect more from a PM than bad decisions made with absolute conviction. We expect sound decisions, especially where the military is concerned. Let’s face it, TB is all talk and tagging along with the USA, and our influence worldwide has declined as a result of this.

    • 168.
    • At 12:10 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Donald wrote:

    He will be remembered by me for destroying the United Kingdom.

    • 169.
    • At 12:10 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • steve sabine wrote:

    I have to say Nick I agree with a couple of earlier posts, you actually do need to take a big step back into the really world, its nice to be close…. but it comes at a price – detached objectiveness from a real world perspective, amongst other things. When it all comes down to it, Tony was a rather successful door to door salesman trying to fill the shoes of a prime minister, he gave it a good go, bless him, but a toothy smile, the i’m a good guy really image and a cheery word get ripped apart in the failure column. Im sure he wont want for much when he leaves though.

    • 170.
    • At 12:11 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Stephen Hyam wrote:

    Hi Nick
    What about the changes Tony has brought fot the worst.
    1) ban on legal handguns = gun crime doubling and hobby shooters punished
    2) Hunting ban = Payback from old labour for the toffs and rural life banjaxed for many
    3) Legal aid changes = hopeless CPS buraucracy, ruined legal profession (high st solicitors and most barristers on 4) CSA, Tax Credits screw ups by the 10s of ‘000s of additional civil servants employed
    5) Tax raids aimed at small business (particularly IT small business) bankrupting individuals who got no legal aid to defend themselves
    6) Pension raids by HMRC leaving us all wondering what we are going to live on

    • 171.
    • At 12:11 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • STEVE wrote:

    The jury, in my book, will be out until all the history books have been written but as a ‘present day’ overall view of the last ten years, that is probably the most unbiased and true summary I will read. Well done Nick.

    • 172.
    • At 12:12 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rob Oliver wrote:

    Tony Blair, unlike Margaret Thatcher hasn’t left No10 crying and has retained the dignity a Prime Minister of Great Britain for 10 years is entitled to (albiet with blemished record for Iraq, Spin and Cash for Honours). He seemed to have got his timing right, rather than having little insight or awareness of demise like Thatcher. He will be remembered for many positives and strong leadership looking back, and I’m sure he will continue being a strong international player for the UK in Europe, Africa and the US.

    • 173.
    • At 12:12 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Frampton wrote:

    Britain has become institutionally more “liberal”

    It has actually become institutionally more fascist, including the BBC, obsessed with minorities and political correctness.

    • 174.
    • At 12:15 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Toby Mercer wrote:

    Nick admires Tony Blair because he was a smooth talker. Sorry, but that’s a poor standard and not good enough for a PM.

    • 175.
    • At 12:16 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • dave hutchison wrote:

    The problem here is a simple one. There is very little difference between new labour and the conservatives. Whoever is in power will still pour huge amounts of money into public services. One will tax higher than the other but the differences between them are paper thin, if not cigarette paper thin. Iraq was not a mistake it was a disaster. There was no need for Britain to be involved in America’s crusade in this illegal and unnecessary war. Saddam Hussein was being controlled by the no-fly zones to the north and south and had been so for many years. The idea that Britain itself could be under attack from Iraq was ridiculous and he knew it. The Conservatives backed him where some Labour backbenchers would not. The tragedy is that this was done to somehow protect our freedom and democracy while at the same time providing the same to Iraq. In fact it has done the opposite for both. There is no democracy here anymore and that is his “legacy”.

    • 176.
    • At 12:17 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard Sperrin wrote:

    Tony Blair has led the UK to economic, commercial and industrial stabilisation. He has, by far, led the best goverment in my lifetime of 45 years.

    I will be sorry to see him go.

    Well done Tony !!

    • 177.
    • At 12:17 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Doug wrote:

    I don’t think the Iraq war will be the thing he will be remembered for. Depending on what happens at the next election it could be his efforts at starting the implementation of a police state, beginning with the national identity register.

    The increasingly authoritarian national & local Governments seem to tell us that they know best, and if we don’t agree they will punish us.

    Also, Blair obviously never heard the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. He had to tinker with everything.

    • 178.
    • At 12:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Aidan wrote:

    I am amazed at the amount of bile that this blog has generated. Tony Blair has changed Britain, but certainly less so than Margaret Thatcher; because he has not been so radical, he will be as quickly forgotten as many of this century’s Prime Ministers have been – for all except those who are interested in or study politics.

    • 179.
    • At 12:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • P Thomas wrote:

    Blair followed the political tradition set out in “Fame The Spur”. As always it’s the ordinary people who have had to suffer through a decline in civil society, an illegal war and a failure at the top to ever admit errors of political judgement. History will not judge Blair kindly.

    • 180.
    • At 12:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike Hipkins wrote:

    Miss him Nick? Only as you do the pain of a rotting tooth after its finally extracted – for days you want the pain to stop and when it finally does, you miss it.
    As for him leaving with a smile on his face, wonder at what price that smile was bought at, in British, Afghan and Iraqi dead, all sacrificed on the high alter of a monstrous ego desperate for his place in history; so desperate that he has to grandstand his way though the truly historic events in Northern Ireland without regard or reference to John Major, Patrick Mayhew, Mo Mowlam and all those others who worked so hard to bring these events to pass.
    You know all you need to know about Tony Blair, his religious convictions and his ego when you consider that after all they had been though together, he couldn?t be bothered to attend Robin Cook’s funeral. So much for “forgive those who trespass against us”.

    • 181.
    • At 12:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul Amery wrote:

    Leave with a smile on his face?

    Shame hundreds of thousands of others in Yugoslavia, Sierra leone, Afghanistan and Iraq are no longer on the planet to do the same after Tony’s interventions for humanitarian reasons.

    Your comments, Mr. Robinson, are beyond parody.

    • 182.
    • At 12:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Simon wrote:

    Excellent piece.

    But as George Galloway said,
    Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are just two cheeks of the same arse…
    So lets not expect miracles.

    • 183.
    • At 12:22 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Adrian Vernon wrote:

    Tony Blair came with the promise of being cooler, younger and more a man of the people than the stuffed suits of the outgoing Tory government and he has probably achieved this.

    However, there is nothing to suggest that he has been any less corrupt, underhand or deceitful than any of his predecessors. His position at George Bush’s right hand is, frankly, embarrasing and he may yet face the music over the criminal enquiry in to the cash for honours affair.

    So, behind the smiles, the flash, the laughter, remember the truth – the NHS is in crisis, the money that has poured in to education has improved facilities but not standards of education, the national debt is higher than ever, the prison population is higher than ever, interest rates are on the rise and he has blamed anything and everything on a Tory government which has been out of power for 10 years.

    Bring back the likes of Thatcher, Kinnock, the late John Smith. Real people, real opinions.

    • 184.
    • At 12:23 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • laura wrote:

    I am hoping that when Blair is out of office, the same laws are applied to him here as were applied to Pinochet. If the Belgium or Holland are true to their word and want to prosecute Blair for war crimes, he should be arrested and conveyed there expediantly.

    • 185.
    • At 12:24 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter Palladas wrote:

    So when precisely should we be having our ‘The Blair Ditch Project’ party to celebrate his going?

    27th June is an option clearly, but we will all wake up the next day with the man still PM.

    On the other hand the day – when it finally comes – for Gordon to take over the job hardly seems a fit occasion to be having a roaring cheerful do either.

    Advice please. There are halls to be booked, flags to be sown and hogs to be roasted.

    • 186.
    • At 12:24 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard pagan wrote:

    one things for sure he has worked very hard at a thankless job despite the mistakes

    • 187.
    • At 12:25 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • richard maples wrote:

    Taxed to the hilt

    Caught up in a war that has nothing to do with us

    Millions of Immigrants that are a social and financial burden

    More manufacturing jobs lost than under thatcher

    Health, education and other services destroyed

    Blaires legacy glad i didnt vote for him like the rest of the mugs

    • 188.
    • At 12:25 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Connor wrote:

    I am absolutely certain that the biggest megalomaniacs in history sincerely believed they were doing the right thing. Does that mean we should think of them fondly? Most of us though are quite able to look beyond their personal sincerity which may in fact be no more than self-delusion.

    In my humble opinion, Blair is, and always has been deluded. No doubt the whispering voices (such as Mandy and Campbell) praised him to the heavens while also doing down his opponents. However, a competent, never mind very able, leader should have been able to recognise the truth when it hit him right between the eyes. Blair instead lived on the adulation, which has now reached the stage where he can be right and everyone else is wrong. Iraq is the perfect, but not the only, example.

    Don’t be surprised if his memoirs are entitled ‘My Way’ (including complementary CD). I would however prefer a simple sign on No 10 saying ‘Under (Almost) New Management – with deep apologies for the loss of service since 1997’

    • 189.
    • At 12:25 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard James wrote:

    I have found all this talk of legacy stupidly premature. To be discussing legacy while a PM is still in office, as has been going on for months, is absurd and a distraction -another example of the ‘Christmas cards in September’ phenomenon.

    • 190.
    • At 12:26 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Awura wrote:

    Nick we know how you like to lay into Tony but you also admited it. His wooing and cajoling reconciled warring parties in Northern Ireland and this will hopefully make an impact in climate change. Love him or loathe him but Brown or even Cameron will find it a hard task stepping into those shoes. I will miss him

    • 191.
    • At 12:27 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • richard maples wrote:

    Taxed to the hilt

    Caught up in a war that has nothing to do with us

    Millions of Immigrants that are a social and financial burden

    More manufacturing jobs lost than under thatcher

    Health, education and other services destroyed

    Blaires legacy glad i didnt vote for him like the rest of the mugs

    • 192.
    • At 12:27 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • zippit wrote:

    REJOICE!

    He’s going at last.

    The triumph of style over substance will shortly end.

    Remember “Things can only get better”? What happened?

    • 193.
    • At 12:28 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Douglas wrote:

    As an ex-Army officer, I understand a little bit about Leadership. I was always told to never let it be said that men will “follow you out of curiosity”. Tony Blair “inspirational”, “leader” “statesman”? – sorry but I just didn’t get it! I was always wondering, what’s he going to do next?!

    • 194.
    • At 12:28 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark wrote:

    I think it’s worrying when our political journalists clearly worship politicians in the way Robinson (and Marr before him do).

    Biased BBC again!!!!??

    • 195.
    • At 12:28 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nik wrote:

    We’re going to party so hard on the 27th June…

    • 196.
    • At 12:30 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Craig Storey wrote:

    I wil certainly not miss Anthony Lynton Blair. His main stain on British politics will be the war in Iraq,not that that will bother him, and the awful death of Dr David Kelly, not that anyone in the rancid excuse of a governing body will care.

    • 197.
    • At 12:32 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike Pemberton wrote:

    Peace in Northern Ireland; low unemployment; low inflation; increased spending on education and health; pro-active foreign policy; standing up to terrorism; putting world poverty near the top of the international agenda. Not a bad record in my view.

    • 198.
    • At 12:32 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul wrote:

    Labour were kept out of power in part by being cast by MT spin doctors and her ad men Saatchi and Saatchia as irresponsible, immature and too idealistic. It feltinstead like the grown-ups had taken over. Decisions made and policies forged (whether rightly or not) for the common good – not as we have had before an adherence to policical rhetheric and idealogical dogma. This government and its many achievments was not just down to its leader. The Ni settlement appeared to be facilitated in a large part by the less confrontational and more even handed approach delivered by Mo Molem. The disconnection between politicians and the setting of interest rates was a good example of doing what was right rather than cynically manipulating the economy by lowering interest rates ahead of elections to create a feel good factor and then having to suffer the consequences after the election was won. Mirroring business the new labour government raised the bar for standards of integrity, practical achievement and performance expectation. It is likely the invasion of Iraq by the US would have happened with or without UK The lack of planning and war atrocities (mostly American) appalling – we may however never know what worse consequences may have been overted. Who knows, if we had provoked a war with Germany earlier rather than trying to appease the facists, maybe we might have prevented the holocaust. Whatever the rights or wrongs these were tough decisions made in a grown-up way. I think the government has played a good part in helping our society come to terms with being a capitaist society with a social conscionse where everybody has a part to play rather than the previous fractured notion promoted of ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ or ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ The consequence is that we are more able to get on with our lives without the roller coaster of economic upheavals rought by changes in policy as a consequence of changing political ideology. My hope is that the legacy causes subsequent governments to concentrate on deliveringr a stable economic environment so the rest of us can adapt and get on with delivering the economic growth which pays for the better schools and hospitals.

    • 199.
    • At 12:33 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Robert Kinder wrote:

    It is a great shame Tony Blair is leaving he has been a great PM. Eventhough he has had made errors, everybody makes mistakes. He has done some fanastic things for Britain and the pepole of this country. I myself am very help with the introdution of Civial Partnerships. I wish Tony Blair and his family all the best
    And above all Thank you for his great work for this country

    • 200.
    • At 12:34 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Emily wrote:

    Miss Blair? Are you talking about his daughter? If we do ever miss Blair it will only be because we’ll have to deal with the even more odious Brown or because an even worse authoritarian than Blair gets in and uses Blair’s smashing of the checks and balances of our constitution and civil liberties to maximum effect.

    Blair squandered an incredible opportunity. He was a weak man who was blinded by American’s military might (as Kinnock said he has a soft spot for men in uniform). He took us into an Iraq war for highly immoral reasons, as leak after leak has shown – and not because Saddam was an imminent threat.

    But it was not just Iraq. Control freakery and dishonesty seeps through everything this government does, and it is patronising in the extreme to think the mere plebs fall for it.

    He is good at acting “honest” but he is a spinner and a liar.

    His record? Aside from smashing civil liberties and Iraq, and lying about tuition fees, almost 20% of kids are functionally illiterate, violent crime has gone up (and most is now unreported), and the economy is NOT in a good position at all.

    What the Blair period shows beyond all else is the mediocrity of the media: who were unable to challenge Blair’s undemocratic moves and who like stupid sheep bleated the lies about the economy.

    Shame on them all.

    When the housing market collapses the chickens will come home to roost, and the trillion pounds worth of government liabilities they have staggeringly managed to rack up will then near bankrupt the economy, and then the trillion of personal debt upon which this whole house of cards was built will also come crashing down on everyone’s heads.

    • 201.
    • At 12:36 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • billstevenson wrote:

    Once again we have the BBC playing the role of PR for the Labour Government-would it have been the same if it had been a tory government -probably unfortunately as the BBC which reported the news and only gave the facts and allowed the british people to make their own judgement is long gone.
    As for Blair if you ask an ordinary person if education health or justice are better than 10 years ago they will, by a massive majority say no. If nick believes the labour doctrine that having increased the money spent on these areas automatically means it is better then he is totally divorced from the real world. If, as I suspect he does not believe that and still follows the BBC line then I am afraid there is nothing more to say

    • 202.
    • At 12:36 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard Bettess wrote:

    I agree entirely with Tony Crook’s comment above that politics had been greatly cheapened under Tony Blair’s government, perhaps irrevocably.

    His only worthwhile acheivement has been the Northern Ireland process.

    Other than that there is an impression that the country outside the bounds of London is little understood and cared for even less’ I have always felt that the administration’s only aim is its own preservation in power, not the long term interests of the country.

    I am thankful Mr Blair has gone. My concern now is what damage will be done under the next Labour Prime Minister.

    • 203.
    • At 12:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ian wrote:

    As a democratic right winger & diametrically opposed to Neo Labours “internationally progressive” politics & agenda, I can recognise that Prime Minister Blair will be remembered as a strong, courageous & principled leader.

    Iraq? Like President Bush, Prime Minister Blair would rather the world think he was wrong for going in, than for incompetence in securing the WMD after the invasion.

    Prime Minister Blair will get his chance to say “I told you so” yet – of that, I am certain…..

    • 204.
    • At 12:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard White wrote:

    At least Tony Blair had a genuine smile – I hear that Gordon Brown has just paid a visit to the dentist, so he can now lie through his teeth!

    • 205.
    • At 12:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • phil wrote:

    Blair may leave Downing street with a smile on his face – i wonder what his experssion will be in a jail cell in The Haigue for war crimes?

    • 206.
    • At 12:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • martin brighton wrote:

    At last, good riddance to bad rubbish.
    For what that corrupt, evil idiot has done to me, my family, and my community, he shall always be hated, loathed and despised with a depth of passion he is incapable of understanding.
    He has personally presided over the most corrupt nulabor government this country has ever had. He was the source of all those obscenities that were are so far removed from those principles of decency and humanity.
    His legacy will place him among the worst that history has had to offer. For those whose lives, families and futures have been destroyed that that man, may his short and painful retirement would not be justice enough.
    Will his successor put right what he did wrong, and will that successor purge the corruption that is rife throughout nulabor, lead from the top down, and out of control.

    • 207.
    • At 12:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Sam Topley wrote:

    What ever Tony Blair has done wrong, do you not forgive him or understand they can’t get everything right. I don’t envy anyone who does that job, they can never win.

    Personally I think the country (barring the shocking law system we have and the state of our youth – not goverments fault but bad parenting and a serious lack of culture and family togetherness is to blame)
    is in a much better position that it was!!

    As for IRAQ, all people seem to say was, it was a mistake, there were no nuclear weapsons, ignore the lies we were fed and realise that we freed IRAQ of Suddam Hussain, DID ANYONE NOTICE THE TORTURE ROOMS??? That alone is enough reason for me to get involved, we cannot allow such attrocities to occure, no matter what the politics are, we need to stop persecution and although there will not be peace for a long time, it will be good for IRAQ in my opinion.

    Well done Tony, a very long term in government and I hope you get the credit you deserve, you will be missed.

    • 208.
    • At 12:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard wrote:

    I wish Tony Blair well in whatever future career path he chooses. Under enormous pressure and media hounding the man has been scrutinised for every move he makes, and deserves a break from the spotlight. Yes he may have made mistakes but overall he has led Britain through a period of change into the 21st Century, and steps down with a lot to be proud about.

    • 209.
    • At 12:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Claire wrote:

    During my childhood, my home town was a ghost town. Now there is a bustling town centre where filled with a reassuring mix of local businesses and high street chains. I can never get a parking space, but Jarrow has definitely improved under Tony Blair’s term as PM.

    • 210.
    • At 12:39 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Neil Small wrote:

    Immigration policy is an appalling mistake. The numbers flooding into the UK are a major cause for concern, as this will plant the seed of unrest in later years.

    He is the same as most other politicians however – a lawyer with ambitions for power. He looks after Number One. Whatever happens to the UK will not affect him personally, hence the spin.

    But what is with this “farewell tour”?

    Key tasks for politicians post Blair

    Establish trust – link MP pay/benefits to public service levels.

    Do not expect organisations with monetary interests to introduce voluntary controls (Food producers, estate agents, banks, MP’s,

    Return public services to state control but control them with watchdogs that have teeth – not quangos with fat salaries for directors.

    Abolish inheritance tax.

    Make provision for pensions through income tax. Stop penalising people who plan for their retirement and/or save effectively.

    Abolish council tax – use local tax -councils to present a business case to central government for their income

    Abolish road tax collect revenue from fuel. All vehicles to display insurance discs.

    Dear Nick, Just a few items for discussion

    • 212.
    • At 12:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Kockelbergh wrote:

    I think I shall be sorry to see him go. He is, in my opinion, very much maligned, and does not receive enough credit for the things, on both national and international levels that he has “done right”, but receives far too much criticism for the things that have been “done wrong”. I think, as time passes and Iraq/Afghanistan ceases to be such a sore wound, people will begin to see things such as peace in Northern Ireland, devolution of Wales and Scotland and come to regard him as a successful PM.

    • 213.
    • At 12:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    Tony Blair brought a breath of life back into politics. When he took over the leadership, from the late John Smith, he did so with a great energy, which was infectious.

    What has he brought to Britain? Well firstly, he came at a time where Britian began to be cool again. You could wave the flag, major events came to us. When he spoke, you believed him.

    Peace of Northern Ireland, dont underestimate this.

    To Tony Blair ‘it’s been emotional’, unfortunately we have a bunch of wooden politicians to take over. Tony had personality unlike his rivals and that is true today.

    • 214.
    • At 12:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • CHARLES BROWN wrote:

    There are of course many things Tony Blair will be remebered for good and bad. I’m at an age where I can remember both his time and Mrs Thatchers time in office and I’m pretty sure which one I preferred. We moan at the interest rates going up, well how about having just bought your first house then seeing the rate rise to 15%? Or hearing in the news of yet another old person dying because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes ? For all it’s faults, Child tax credits have made a difference, I have first hand experiance of waiting times coming down in hospitals. When the dust finally settles, I think people will read Nicks’ summary and say it was pretty spot on.

    • 215.
    • At 12:42 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark Ellis wrote:

    That feel good factor of 1996 just hasn’t gone away. Every government has its ups and downs, but Britain is back on top, richer, respected and envied. Now that’s leadership, charisma, and showmanship, politics is just a side show. The voter wants a politician to make decisions, look good and stand above piers and world leaders. Only Tony and Winston have achieved that. He will be missed as dower meritocracy takes over.

    • 216.
    • At 12:42 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • MC wrote:

    Okay, I the euphoria of May 1997 has long since worn off, but on balance Tony Blair’s government hasn’t been at all bad. I’d vote for him again. Thanks Tony.

    • 217.
    • At 12:43 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Brian wrote:

    I’ve come to conclusion that I do have a lot of respect for Tony Blair – it’s just everyone else around him I have issues with.

    • 218.
    • At 12:44 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark Ellis wrote:

    That feel good factor of 1996 just hasn’t gone away. Every government has its ups and downs, but Britain is back on top, richer, respected and envied. Now that’s leadership, charisma, and showmanship politics is just a side show. The voter wants a politician make decisions, look good and stand above piers and world leaders. Only Tony and Winston have achieved that. He will be missed as dower meritocracy takes over.

    • 219.
    • At 12:44 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steve Pauline wrote:

    Talk about damned with faint praise. Mr. Blair’s contribution in Northern Ireland is difficult to overstate. I’m no apologist for him but let’s give credit where it’s due. He’s been truly outstanding in his dogged determination to bring devolved government to the province and to reconcile the warring (for let’s not forget that’s what they were) parties. This will surely count among his finest accomplishments.

    • 220.
    • At 12:45 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark wrote:

    As with all Prime ministers who try to affect change I dont really think he has done to bad to be honest. As he just said in his speech he didnt always get it right but he certaintly give it his best shot. Love him or loathe him I also think a lot of people will miss him. And lets not forget they may miss him even more on down the line. President Clinton did not always get thinks correct also, but I am quite sure alot of people would still be very happy for him to be running the USA. I think maybe in year or so alot of people could actually be looking back and thinking and actually wishing he was still Primie Minister of Great Britain.

    • 221.
    • At 12:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Michael J Geary wrote:

    Robinson’s conclusion that Blair leaves without being forced out and with a smile is completley to ignore the political reality. Have we all forgotten the fail coup a number of months ago? Blair is not leaving Downing St by choice but by ultimatum. And that smile? It’s just for the history books!

    • 222.
    • At 12:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jamie Taylor wrote:

    We’ve just lost the best Prime Minister that this country has had in the modern era. Nobody since Churchill has even come close – and that includes Thatcher who became a public joke with her parodies of ‘royal’ demeanour and self-opinionated ego; it is no secret that she has never gotten over her time at number 10. I expect Tony Blair to make a clean break and not look back unless we ask him to return. Good luck Tony, you’ll be very sadly missed. And thank you Nick for a decent summing up of the man.

    • 223.
    • At 12:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Smith wrote:

    Words mean nothing to Tony Bliar he stood on the podium after the last Election and said he had heard the voice of the people and learnt lessons He change nothing and is leaving us with the mess he started

    • 224.
    • At 12:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard A wrote:

    As a player of the political game, Tony Blair has been remarkably successful. As a prime minister, he has been far less so. I do not think history will be kind to him.

    • 225.
    • At 12:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Anonymous wrote:

    WE have seen a Prime Minsiter who was a proven liar, who was jubilant about going to war to kill people just for so that the Americans can lay claim to the vast oil reserves of Iraq.

    His end no doubt will see him end up in a similar vein as the dead innocent Iraqui’s.

    • 226.
    • At 12:47 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Terry wrote:

    Crikey Nick – pass the hankies. The other night I thought you looked a little weepy yourself actually. Recently, BBC Parliament replayed the 1997 Election programmes and what came across strongly is that Tony and Gordon received an economic legacy they could only have dreamed of. A boom proceeded, funded by shareholder capital in the IT sector and by an expansion of public sector debt – both on balance sheet and off balance sheet by way of PFI – and, of course, cheap consumer finance (funded by the banks and with ‘000s of defaulting debtors “let off” by the new insolvency laws – which were presumably implemented in anticipation of the problems that cheap finance will cause). On the NHS and education: who believes official statistics these days anyway?

    All said and done, Tony has been an accomplished PM. He successfully stole Tory ideas and made them his own (without the philosophical underpinning that would make them successful)so that he can now get people to say that the Tories want to emulate him. Pure brilliance.

    • 227.
    • At 12:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris Young wrote:

    I am maybe not alone in being glad to see the back of Tony Blair. Despite his protestations to the contrary he presided over the most hyped and spun regime we have ever had the misfortune of having in this country, a regime which was at the same time totally lacking in substance. To the last, his farewell speech spun and spun and spun again. Whether he is genuine or not, he is now so mired in froth and double-speak that he comes across as untrustworthy. Blair and his party hijacked so much from the previous regime. Now the corner-stone of his legacy – Northern Ireland. A great achievement and he no doubt played his part. But how cynical not to even have the good grace to include in his celebration of this achievement key players such as John Major and Mo Mowlam. Blair spoke a lot today about putting his country first. In my view this is not supported by an individual who held on to power for purely egotistical and selfish reasons. Was hanging on for the 10 year mile stone best for the U.K. or best for him. Neither I would suggest. Pure vanity.

    • 228.
    • At 12:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • JIM wrote:

    What about the future ? remember you never know what your missing until it’s not there.I Think post Blair Britian will be very interesting !
    Gordon Brown PM , David Cameron PM and an independant Scotland.

    • 229.
    • At 12:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Torin Spence wrote:

    My view tends to be that he will be remembered badly initially, but that it will get better as time goes by (with the exception of Iraq)-on that, did anyone else watch the Trial of Tony Blair?

    I do think it quite amusing that he will be leaving in 48 days, add that to the 952 Nick mentioned at the beginning and its 1000 days since he talked about not going on and on!

    • 230.
    • At 12:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Anonymous wrote:

    WE have seen a Prime Minsiter who was a proven liar, who was jubilant about going to war to kill people just for so that the Americans can lay claim to the vast oil reserves of Iraq.

    His end no doubt will see him end up in a similar vein as the dead innocent Iraqui’s.

    • 231.
    • At 12:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Stone wrote:

    Nick, you are a fine journalist, but you are wrong. He will not be missed. He is an utter disgrace. And for you to be taking part in this circus, says it all.

    He is a war criminal.

    Plenty of money poured in public services, outcome negligible.

    Better equipped schools, rubbish literacy levels.

    Need I go on.

    Give the guy a kicking.

    • 232.
    • At 12:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • ac wrote:

    good riddance

    • 233.
    • At 12:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Lindsey wrote:

    It seems to me that when I country elects someone into power, we do so because we need someone to make the difficult decisions for us. As PM they have access to information we will probably never see and make decisions that we may never learn about. That is the job.

    We probably still have very little grasp of the evidence for going into Iraq and, right or wrong, it is highly unlikely that any other party would have done things differently. In addition it would not have been a decision that he made alone. Is there anyone out there who would have wanted to decide whether or not to enter into Iraq knowing that they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t?

    It makes me sad to think that he will be remembered for that when he is responsable for so much good. I have a great deal of respect for the man and wish him all the best for the future. Sadly I do not have the same faith in his followers. Brown or Cameron can only be a step in the wrong direction. I have supported the Liberals all my life knowing that they had little chance of getting into power but TB is the only PM to have had my confidence.

    • 234.
    • At 12:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew Ledingham wrote:

    Blair’s “legacy” as he likes to call it will perhaps be that for as long as it remembers, the population will never again be deceived by a consummate actor in residence in 10 Downing Street. Stage managed from beginning to end – “rent-a-crowd” to cheer him in in 1997 to a totally unnecessary trip to Sedgefield (presumably at the tax-payers’ expense?) today with a total tragedy in between. Anyone who believes that Britain would have become a terrorist target if it had not blindly pursued mistaken American foreign policy is deluding themselves.

    • 235.
    • At 12:50 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Les B wrote:

    So Blair finally feels the boot of history in his posterior.

    Such an opportunity in 1997 after the miserable years of the Tories: the ‘Raving Right’ who set up the structural instability in the economy through their biggest privatisation: the National Debt. But an opportunity largely unfulfilled.

    Many good things: minimum wage, some devolution of power and investment in public services but too much toadying to right wing business, media and America.

    Ultimately Blair will be an interesting footnote to historians of the Labour Party and of colonial Wars. Meanwhile our future is in hock to PFI companies and mortgage lenders.

    • 236.
    • At 12:51 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jama wrote:

    He is great men and leader but he make more mistakes since he became priminster what about Iraq? shal we give him creat this i don’t thinks.
    History will charge and good luck for his future

    • 237.
    • At 12:52 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gary Lovatt wrote:

    Personally I think the media’s obsession with Iraq and Blair’s shortcomings there have brainwashed the public into forgetting what a fine job he has done for this country.

    We continue to have the most enviable economy in the world, Public Services have all improved.

    I think the biggest regret with Iraq is that it took Blairs eye off the ball with Domestic Crime, Immigration and domestic terrorism which seems to get worse and worse. It sickens me that we are a such a ‘soft touch’ compared to other nations and despite the good work I mentioned, this will become a growing problem unless someone acts on it.

    I’m thankful to Blair for some of the good work he did, particularly in the early days.

    But his successor should look to act on his failings quickly to bring back the values and a national pride – whatever the race and background of people who made their decision to live here.

    • 238.
    • At 12:52 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • James G. Booth wrote:

    Let’s see:

    He allowed Gordon Brown to steal billions from our pension funds. He lied and lied and used spin again and again. And worst of all, he gave billions to the EU without our approval. The sell out of our national democracy to the unelected crowd in Brussels (started by Heath) is now almost completed.

    Where is that referendum you promised 10 years ago Bliar? Is Bliar going to sign up to a new ‘constitution’ for the EU and then quickly resign?

    • 239.
    • At 12:53 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Al B wrote:

    I think he tried his best and made some difficult decisions – some wrong.
    I feel that Labour is finished and Brown will be without a ral mandate from the people of this country. THis will fester with the people and the Tories will get in – I know, it’s ashame but all good things come to an end

    • 240.
    • At 12:53 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Zoe wrote:

    At last the nightmare is over, or is it?

    Do not forget that he is leaving as he is unelectable and no longer an asset for labour.

    The current government is morally bankrupt, and utterly corrupt.

    They are all the same.

    • 241.
    • At 12:53 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard wrote:

    The fact of the matter besides Iraq, Northern Ireland etc, is this country is in a better state than 1997 and that is due to this country being governed well and led by a good leader. No Prime Minister is perfect and all make mistakes. He has done a good job and the country can be proud of the condition he has left it in.

    A job well done Tony

    • 242.
    • At 12:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ayrton wrote:

    You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone…Hold on tight, we could be in for a bumpy few years.

    • 243.
    • At 12:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tim wrote:

    Since Tony Blair came into power:

    1. agriculture and industry has been decimated,

    2. house prices have become unaffordable, leading to a new “landed gentry”,

    3. we have a huge national deficit,

    4. we have become dependent on China, who are not the most trustworthy of nations,

    5. the family has been destroyed, society and community is rapidly decaying,

    6. immorality is exalted and paraded as the new morality, and,

    7. N.I. is ruled by mass-murderers.

    What a great legacy! (And Brown is largely responsible for a lot of it.)

    • 244.
    • At 12:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Stephen wrote:

    Glad to hear from Claire #201 that Blair has improved Jarrow. I would however appreciate her condolences for the tragedy that has befallen my own town of Paisley where the town centre has been decimated under his watch (alongside the Labour led Scottish parliament and local Council).

    Perhaps she could do likewise to the people of Baghdad, Basra, Helmand Province et al whose decimation owes everything to bombs and a complete absence of leadership. But, hey, Jarrow is OK so all is right with the world.

    • 245.
    • At 12:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Iain Belton wrote:

    The Tories will continue to blame Tony Blair for a multitude of things, but what they really want to blame him for, and for what they will never forgive him, is beating them in three general elections.

    Thanks Tony for a much better Britain.

    • 246.
    • At 12:55 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Cheryl wrote:

    The people who instantly jump to criticise Tony Blair should stop and think for a minute what it takes to run a country, in a world that is complex and ever changing. Though things are far from perfect (and let’s face it when are they ever?) I do not think Britain is as hard done by as some think. I have never doubted TB’s sincerity or his intelligence, I think he tried to play a clever game and it backfired on him – with serious consequences. A mistake it was but he stuck to his guns rather than ‘flip flop’ (which would have won him equal derision I’ve no doubt). I defy anyone to run a country and not run screaming for the hills. Like Clinton, TB is hugely respected around the world for his balanced approach and his public speaking – I think in time we will remember him more fondly.

    • 247.
    • At 12:55 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Roger wrote:

    Good riddance. The man’s an embarrassment.

    Regarding the economy – as been said before, the world economy has been doing well in the last decade, it’s been nothing to do with Blair, despite what the Chancellor may say. I suppose the only credit he may deserve is he hasn’t completely screwed it up.

    Regarding interest rates – I was caught up in the 15% rates at the time of the ERM nonsense back in 1992. Yes people lost their homes but as house prices were much lower the additional interest payments were largely affordable. Not so now – the level of interest rate is irrelevant – it’s the percentage of your salary needed to pay the debt that’s important. See today’s news? Interest rates up again. Also unemployement and public & persoanl debt are huge.

    An election should be called and then we can have the Tories back in.

    • 248.
    • At 12:56 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ken Leitch wrote:

    The great majority of those who have commented today have allowed themselves to be fooled by the unashamed spin campaign waged by the BBC over the last 18 months or so. Their leadership decided to back an incompetent journalist who accused the Prime Minister of lying to Parliament. The consequence of this folly was that the head of the BBC had to go. They have never forgiven Mr Blair, or the rest of the population of the UK, for that fact and have abused their position as a publicly funded broadcaster to wage their shameful tirade against the best Prime Minister this country has ever had. As for Nick Robinson � he has become the byword for spin (aka lies, deceit, propaganda etc) – nothing but a Tory mouthpiece specifically recruited to conduct the campaign. The great sadness is that the BBC can no longer be trusted to report the news without the bias that used to be the trademark of publications in the Soviet Block. When will the people of this country wake up and recognise the lies being perpetrated by organisations such as the BBC?

    • 249.
    • At 12:56 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tim Lewis wrote:

    Am I the only person to think its ironic that Blair timed his leaving speech to ‘bury’ bad news about the Bank of England raising interest rates? What better example of the cynical spin that has marred this government?

    • 250.
    • At 12:56 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard wrote:

    I’m quite shocked, either some of us have forgotten what it was like before Tony Blair or your too young.

    I grew up in a Tory country in a Tory area and my god it was a bleak time, we were unemployed, unvalued, dispossessed
    and our fantastic Tory government was so detached from reality it was a joke.

    Tony and new labor has brought prosperity and jobs to the uk.

    There have been mistakes but it’s unfair to base his legacy solely on the war in Iraq. On the whole we now have a lot to be proud of not least the population.

    • 251.
    • At 12:59 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Archibald wrote:

    Does anyone else think it mildly spin-some to announce this long-expected (and frankly long-overdue) departure at the same time as interest rates were hiked by yet another 0.25%?! My two BBC e-mail alerts arrived about 5 seconds after each other!

    • 252.
    • At 01:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gill B, wrote:

    What will I remember of Tony Blair?
    He took us to war, and does not even know how to pronounce the rank of ‘Lieutenant’ when he mentions the war dead.

    People who criticize him / his Government, are arrested as possible terrorists, thrown out of public meetings or have their medical records published.
    Never have we as a nation been so discouraged from publicly voicing our opinion.

    Any trust in politicians has long since gone – would you believe anything that he now says – without documented proof?

    • 253.
    • At 01:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ben Slight wrote:

    Nick, I was just starting secondary school when Labour came into power in 1997. Yes, Blair rattles on about investments in education, but no-one looks at what the money has been spent on. True we no longer have schools that are falling down, leaking or have poor heating – and most now have nice new buildings. However, what are most of the new buildings used for: ICT…

    The main investment in education by this Government has been in ICT. Yes, each school can now boast about having as many as ten computer rooms, with Internet access and up-to-date facilities, and is seen as a triumph of the Blair years. However, it is a sad fact that science labs are still in urgent need of repair and some schools can’t even offer A Level science as they don’t have the facilities to do so.

    Subjects such as history, geography, Latin, Modern Foreign Languages – as part of the ‘modernisation’ of the school syllabus, are in some areas an ‘endangered’ species with very few children taking these subjects post 14. Modern Foreign Languages is a worry, Britain is supposed to be a world power according to Blair today, yet most of our children can’t speak a European Language, whether French, German, Spanish, Italian or Russian. Some schools are even making modern foreign language teachers redundant.

    The example I have given is increasing the numbers in private education, something that is supposed to be a symbol of inequality. The legacy of Blair’s educational policy is that we have schools which are bright and sparkling but are suffering massive brain-drains at the expense of ICT and other populist subjects.

    Similarly, PE, something touted as a key goal in 1997, is also in trouble. How many school fields have been sold to Tesco? How many children are going to be obese in the next 10 years?

    Blair’s legacy – looks great on the surface, scratch a little deeper and it is a different picture…

    • 254.
    • At 01:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • james wrote:

    So Jarrow’s improved? Well great. Actually i think you’ll find that most people are just spending lent money from the bank and withdrawing equity from their homes to keep the spend now pay later economy that brown and blair have enouraged going for a few months longer.
    the day of reckoning will be here soon. �1.3trillion of personal debt in the UK – economic sucess -yeah right. watch it all come to grief at a town near you soon.
    unemployment down – whatever. we now mysteriously have 2million more “sick” people claiming benefit in the UK, and 2million fewer claiming unemployment benefit. you go figure.

    its all been a sham. pity most people are too thick to realise.

    • 255.
    • At 01:01 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • SK wrote:

    I like the way Tony Blair listens and takens on his critics but not all the policies that are affecting Health Services & Social life in UK at present.

    • 256.
    • At 01:01 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jeff wrote:

    Life is cheaper now than it has ever been, in the UK and the world.

    Be it politician or journalist it’s the same group of people every decade who have no idea what is actually going on in the real world.

    When will we have a leader who will concentrate on the bigger picture of quailty of life, not quality of image and bank balance.

    I’d hoped for more from Mr Blair.

    • 257.
    • At 01:01 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Albert wrote:

    Those of us old enough to remember the Governments of Churchill, Atlee, McMillan, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher and Blair will know how to draw a comparison between them all.
    Blair is a self deluded choir boy.
    He started out looking good. Remained looking good but as has been said here so often… Style over substance and that’s that.
    Shallow fellow with little knowledge of history and possibly a genuine dislike of the English middle class. Gordon of course will be worse in that respect. He loathes the English.

    • 258.
    • At 01:02 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Toby Josham wrote:

    Tony Blairs legacy? Taking the country to war against the wishes of its people, sexed up dossiers containing lies and spin and getting away with it.
    Greg Dyke lost his job, Andrew Gilligan lost his job and Dr Kelly lost his life. Tony Blair got re-elected.
    Now that’s getting away with it.

    • 259.
    • At 01:03 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • charlie jackson wrote:

    His domestic policies will be largely irrelevant to his legacy. History will judge him on his foreign policy.
    Tony Blair fed us dodgy information and dragged this country against its will into the most disastrous foreign policy (mis)adventure since Suez.
    Whether or not he intended to deceive is irrelevant. A misjudgement of this magnitude, with its horrific consequences shows criminal incompetence. Our leaders must be better than that.
    If they ever open him up, will they find ‘Iraq’ engraved upon his heart? Personally I’d like to see him opened up in a court of law.

    No; he won’t be missed.
    Nor will the disaster called “New Labour”.

    The last 28 years of the politics of free enterprise (i.e. unfettered greed and no planning) in the UK has left social chaos in its wake.

    • 261.
    • At 01:06 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Christopher wrote:

    If nothing else then your leader certainly made people think, judging by these blogs alone. I was born and brought up in Jersey so it has always been interesting looking in to your country from outside. There appear to be two main legacies of his time in office. The first is the end of Socialism as a viable ideological force. Although left-wing thinkers were prepared to stay silent whilst the right-wing cookoo delivered the much desired power they never had a leader of their own and look unlikely to have one again in the near future. Surely a significant loss if democracy is to be built on the balancing influence of ideologies.

    The second is that the voting public is not stupid; sometimes preocupied but not stupid. When a government is led by spin, driven by spin and focuses so much time and effort on spin action gets lost and real success lost in the scramble to over blow it. If Tony Blair has achieved anything, which surely he has, it will be some years before the mist of spin clears and the left stop pretending that they did not know they had elected a right-wing politician as their party leader.

    And Iraq? He was wrong and the American power elite remain scary. Imagine the damage his close relationship with Bush could have delivered if the US understood foreign policy but were still the only super power.

    • 262.
    • At 01:06 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew Smith wrote:

    We have not yet got presidential government in this country so readers should attribute to the whole House of Commons many of the complaints they have posted. The HoC should have called Blair to account but instead it has allowed him to walk all over them and us.

    Administrative incompetence, destruction of complex institutions, politicisation of the civil service, transfer of powers to the EU, excessive taxation, oppresive regulations and release of murderers. All this has been achieved in 10 years resulting in the distruction of trust in the political process and all who comprise the political class.

    His government has made us all feel dirty.

    • 263.
    • At 01:07 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • alan wrote:

    Let us remember that TB and his banker have given us an external debt of $8,280,000,000,000 (https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2079rank.html), sold out gold reserves, created a massive trade deficit of over 4.3 billion pounds a month and growing. 17% of Britons now live below the poverty line with Pensions a disaster. Let’s hope the Europeans don’t throw us out of the Union for not paying our way. Thanks for the debt Tony and Gordon. You should have listened to the experts, pensions, corporation tax etc.

    • 264.
    • At 01:08 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Natalie wrote:

    Thank you to the person who posted a comment from a young person perspective of the Blair government. Im sure if you have been on the planet 40 years you will be contented with his governing, as long as you can forgive the lies.
    From a young person living in Britain I have been crippled by student fees, unable to afford a house in the area I currently live,despite apparently earning above the national average.
    I have always believed Blair made decisions which he believed were ‘right’ for himself and not right on behalf of his nation. Although I do not expect any Blair replacement to be any different as I am the young and disaffected youth of today.

    • 265.
    • At 01:08 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • thony hopper wrote:

    He done what he thought was right for the UK. A true statesman. Its hard to say goodbye.

    But goodbye tony and thanks for everything, go enjoy your family.

    • 266.
    • At 01:09 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike wrote:

    As for Blair, I believe there is nothing more dangerous than a person that believes his own lies.

    I mean how many years of ‘delivery and reform’ have we had? Has their been any reform? NO. Only botch, fudge, confusion, red tape, interference, disruption, fragmentation, spin and lies. No wonder public sector workers openly cheer David Cameron, they want some sanity back.

    You can apply that to any of the institutions that Labour have meddled with since 1997.

    Labour inherited all the Tory’s effort in getting the economy right after Labour messed it up. I believe as a nation we were more cohesive and tolerant. Thatcher didn’t destroy Britain, she destroyed the socialist dogma than Labour had been addicted to. Socialism destroyed our industries not Thatcherism

    Blair inherited Thatcherism but only as a facsimile of a facsimile and in the words of Homer Simpson “Oh, please God don’t let me mess up.”

    Blair’s legacy was that he didn’t mess up…. well, not too badly. Wilson devalued the pound and failed to control the unions and could not stop the UK’s decline. Callaghan couldn’t see a crisis coming. Foot was a joke. Blair was perhaps Labour most competent Prime Minister to date. Not much of a claim to fame when stacked against the Post-war colossi of Churchil, MacMillan and Thatcher who really did leave huge legacies.

    I believe time still has to play out for Blair but the portents aren’t good, he’s weakened this nation, economically, politically and socially. Brown has quite a poison chalice to deal with, rock bottom support, spent up to the eyeballs and a rapidly fragmenting, increasingly intolerant society. Brown was arch-architect so it’s his turn to gild a wilting lily.

    • 267.
    • At 01:10 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ian Marlow wrote:

    In the same way that Churchill took the difficult and costly decision to confront Hitler, Blair took the right decision over Iraq – not the easy or political one; and I admire him greatly for that. The horse has been led to water and we can only hope that it decides to start drinking sooner rather than later.

    • 268.
    • At 01:10 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ian Payne wrote:

    Well he will not be missed by me Mr Robinson. You sound like a politician when you say things like that !!

    So do you really know what the British people really think then ?

    • 269.
    • At 01:11 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gareth Cardy wrote:

    Although like many new leaders they start out with good intentions, but when they start telling the public what is good for them and what they should and will have without asking them, then they need to rethink their strategy, becuase love turns to hatred very easily. Take for example non smoking in pubs – did anybody ask the public – uh NO!, with the iraq war again – uh NO!,
    road taxing, the response I got was tough – no answer on whether it woud replace car tax or lower fuel prices, it was more of I am telling you it is going to happen.
    After votinglabour since 18 (now 43), they can swivel, until they get back to what they were and not some glorified tory party – who lord it over the people who put them there in the first place.

    • 270.
    • At 01:11 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • James Horrax wrote:

    It is self-evident to suggest he will be remembered but I think that for 10 years, Blair has suffered from the laws of diminishing returns. The more he has put in, the less he has received. Listed in his achievements, are the London Olympics which are now subject to massive financial problems, the Northern Ireland peace settlement, which only witnessed a power sharing return earlier this week, and massive investment in public services, which has seen nursing staff cuts in areas, the online doctor application fiasco, and wards closing to balance budgets. All valuable, were it not for the overall political capital and actual capital used in accomplishing them.

    The legacy of Tony Blair, will be forever linked to that of Iraq and his domestic legacy will see the Conservatives become electable again as Nick Robinson suggests because of the politics of consensus and the ‘creation’ of David Cameron’s ‘New Conservatives’.

    • 271.
    • At 01:12 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Darren wrote:

    A true statesman.

    In time, he will be remembered as one of the Greatest Britons.

    Hold tight, we are about to enter a dangerous period in Uk’s history.

    • 272.
    • At 01:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • dave b wrote:

    Well done Tony, ten years, tough job.

    Tony Blair will be remembered for the illegal war in Iraq, the misinformation about WMD, hundreds of thousands dead.

    Innocent Muslims arrested under anti terror laws, discrimination agaist minorities increased – This is the real legacy for Ton Blair.

    Finally he will also be remembered for his work on the Northern Ireland peace process – it has paid off

    Good riddance!!!

    • 274.
    • At 01:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • dave williams wrote:

    The real test of Blairs legacy will be at the next general election!
    I really dont think labour will make it!
    Remember that that didnt poll enough votes to get a majority of votes at the last G.E.
    DW

    • 275.
    • At 01:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alex L wrote:

    I feel it is too early to write his legacy. If the Middle East explodes, rightly or wrongly he will be viewed as one of the main architects. If – pray – it does not, then he will rightly be viewed as a fine prime minister, with many achievements. As a next job I hope he gets involved in the Middle East/Palestine. His intentions were right, it was the execution that was wrong. Maybe he can find an opportunity to rectify that.

    The UK took quite a risk in electing Labour in 1997 and overall that risk paid off. The conservative alternative of the time – introspective, jingoistic, unimaginative – would surely have been a lot, lot worse. And the next conservative government will also be better than the current, tired incumbents shorn of their greatest asset. Democracy is working well!

    • 276.
    • At 01:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • karen Mann wrote:

    I would probably be much more complimentary about Tony Blair than Nick. I am not traditionally a labour supporter but must say that to be a Prime Minister you have to have the stature to lead and that he has in lorry loads! He has made decisions -good and bad but has stuck by them. People who have charisma, who are great orators, and who believe in what they say and do, don’t come by very often. I salute you Mr Blair. A very hard act to follow.

    • 277.
    • At 01:15 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Barber wrote:

    A generally well balanced over view.

    Yes, Iraq is a mess – not having a plan for what to do once Saddam was overthrown. But let’s not forget, a brutal, fascist dictatorship was overthrown. How different would Europe be today if the same had been done in 1938?

    And yes, what about Zimbabwe? Don’t forget that it is surrounded by states that are generally friendly to Zimbabwe. And as one commentator has said, we’ve ignored Sudan because it doesn’t have oil. Well, actually it does, why else are the Chinese there. Zimbabwe and Sudan are not failings of Tony Blair, the Labour Party or the UK, but of the wider international community.

    • 278.
    • At 01:16 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • JRM wrote:

    It strikes me that those who are positive for TB talk in terms of what he has actually done and stands for, whereas those that are against tend to show more prejudice and anger, focussing inevitably on Iraq. Leaders are supposed to take difficult decisions, and just because he took those decisions should not mean eternal damnation. I think he has been a fine statesman for our country and I think there will be enormous fallout as the months go by. He cannot be followed by what is waiting in the wings.

    • 279.
    • At 01:16 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Maddock wrote:

    Britain may have become more liberal in some limited ways, but on the whole it has become much less liberal under Blair’s nannying rule.

    There are the many obvious examples where civil liberties have been too easily abandoned in favour of the so-called “War on Terror” but also a myriad of other measures. These include well known things like ASBOs, ID Cards, and the restrictions on protests in Parliament Square (a law aimed at one man, Brian Haw) but also the smaller, less reported measures such as the regulations attached to Single Farm Payments, and the attempts to turn the countryside into a theme park for the Ramblers Association via the CRoW and NERC acts.

    Blair’s instinct has been to ban anything that someone doesn’t like, especially if thay have a lobbyist.

    • 280.
    • At 01:16 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dave H wrote:

    You really love him, don’t you, Nick? All that nonsense about the “People’s Princess” was just Blair putting “People’s” on the front of everything.

    The wealth in UK would have largely happened without him – indeed, much of it is an illusion based on cheap money (did you not notice that his speech coincided with the Bank rate increase?).

    The man is deluded to the point that he does not know when he is lying. in 1997, he promised pre-73 War Widows that he would align theor pensions with post-73 widows, yet he has spent ten years avoiding the question.

    He said he acted for what he believed was “right” – much like any religious fundamentalist. He has disgraced Uk around the world to the point that we are jus a US poodle and stand on the periphery of Europe. he joined the invasion of Iraq so that Us backing would make him the first president of Europe – now we mean little.

    To quote Sting, his speeches have always been the “rhetoric of failure”.

    • 281.
    • At 01:17 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alan Allcock wrote:

    I entered the political frey 11 years back, when as a local primary school governor we were struggling to find enough funding to pay for a single broken window. Now in my locality we have an uplifted schools building with a reasonable budget surplus. Also a new health centre, added when the local doctor quit the area and a Sure Start Children’s Centre. Additionally, I had Iraqi aquaintances who had fled here from Saddam’s been persecuted Iraq. Don’t kid me TB has not had a positive effect on all these aspects.

    • 282.
    • At 01:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • simon wrote:

    Refreshing to read the comments here which aren’t based on personalities, political partisanship or facile abuse, but rather on facts.

    I don’t hold a candle for any political party or politician, but I think Blair will be rightly remembered for many good things, some questionable things, and one catastrophe.

    The Good: Kosovo, Bosnia, N. Ireland, Sierra Leone, a strong economy (for the moment, anyway), modest improvements in education and healthcare and some aspects of social justice

    The Bad: over-caution on radical reforms; the continuation of an iniquitous local taxation system that taxes the poor and the elderly based not on their ability to pay, but on the inflated value of their houses; the intrusion into our lives by government agencies; no action on overpopulation; pitiful pensions in the future for anyone but civil servants; allowing Gordon Brown carte blanche to introduce endless unfair taxes on the quiet…

    The Ugly: Iraq, of course

    For anyone who remembers the near-anarchy of the early/mid-seventies, stability is a priceless gift, and Tony Blair has provided us with that. What a shame, though, that his ego persuaded him that posturing on the White House lawn and elsewhere was more desirable than using his overwhelming mandate in 2 elections to radically address some of Britain’s urgent domestic problems. He always was clever, though. A world stage has ensured him of an enviable income from speaking engagements until the day he dies. The rest of us should be so lucky.

    After 6 months of Gordon Brown, even his most bitter detractors will miss him, believe me.

    • 283.
    • At 01:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • david ferrier wrote:

    To echo the majority of sentiment i an glad to see him go.
    He is going at the last possible moment to suit himself before this house of cards tumbles.He always looked like the cat who got the cream.He has undoubtedly feathered his nest financially on the back of the Iraq invasion.His achievements are at best marginal and once we get full details of his tenure public opinion will alter massively when they majority realise they have to dig deep for his financial mismanagement and Iraq

    • 284.
    • At 01:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike Harris wrote:

    Blair has restored our nation’s confidence. British people now feel comfortable with Europe (and no longer jealous of the higher living standards of the French and Germans), comfortable with our multicultural society and comfortable with people of differing sexualities and religions.

    1997 was the year of the Lawrence Enquiry and the last year of Tory government. Trust in the police had collapsed and ethnic minorities were fearful of harrasment and worse. Now, people of all ethnicities are queuing up to join the police, trust in our public services is rising and more people are doing well regardless of gender, ethnicitity or sexuality.

    Whilst the Tory years brought wealth and prosperity to the South East of England, our cities across the country have enjoyed a renaissance. Look at Glasgow, or Belfast, or Cardiff, or Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham. The change has been massive

    That is Blair’s legacy. A Britain comfortable in the world, with itself, and with the future.

    He will be missed.

    • 285.
    • At 01:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tony Heath wrote:

    I cannot agree with much you have said, and am so surprised that the general public have taken so long to realise just how much of a con artist Tony Blair is.

    I cannot think of anything good to remember him by – practically everything he has touch eventually turned to dust.

    I believe Tony Blair has presided over one of the most damaging periods to this countries traditions and institutions. Everything he has intriduced or changed has been carried through with little or no regard to the consequences.

    Good riddance is my main comment, perhaps we can now get on with the repair so urgently needed to our country and its institutions.

    • 286.
    • At 01:20 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • geoff wrote:

    Nick, I agree with most of your review of the Blair years, but I must challenge and disagree with those who attempt to deny or degrade all the great things he, in particular and his government have achieved these past 10 years by condemnation of his action over Iraq. Not once, since the invasion and overthrowing of Saddam have I noted or heard one single comment or view expressed as ‘the alternative’ to leaving Saddam in power. Those who have criticised or condemned Tony Blair’s decison over Iraq have never provided any alternative solution. Particularly the Woolly and flakey Liberals. If we had listended to them Saddam woukld still be killing thousands of his own and other nations people at will. For me the biggest dissapointment of Tony Blairs premiership will be is lack of use of his huge majorities to drive through real and longer lasting change, his ditheriong over the banning of hunting is just one example. Like him, love him, hate hime or praise him, whatever your view, you must admit he has been outstanding for his stance on international affairs and unlike so many before him – once a decison was made he stuck by it. The people of the UK will miss him, even if begrudgingly

    • 287.
    • At 01:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jim Banbury wrote:

    Blair Missed – Like acne when I finished puberty

    • 288.
    • At 01:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Noel Whitman wrote:

    Back in 1997 when Mr Blair first came to power, his rallying cries of ‘education, education, education’, ‘fight crime and the causes of crime’ etc etc seemed like a refreshing change from the previous administration.

    What have we ended up with?

    More uneducated yobs and louts on the streets, students burdened with huge debts attaining in many cases, worthless degrees, criminals given more rights than their victims, increased inter racial/religious tension, the list goes on.

    What a legacy he will leave indeed, Britain changed into a quasi police state where liberties have been slowly but surely eroded and our traditional values and way of life pretty much vanished or banished (under health and safety guidelines) forever.

    Missed? I don’t think so. He just turned out to be another ambitious politician to whom power and glory were all, with little or no thought given to the populace he was supposed to serve.

    • 289.
    • At 01:22 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Martin McDonald wrote:

    Nick – a great summary. Very perceptive comments about the state of our country.

    The simplest way to assess Blair is to ask who was around in 1997 who could have gone on to do the job better? I’m still not convinced there was anyone.

    Are Brown and Cameron going to be any better? My guess is that they’ll accumulate their own equally long list of failures because that’s what happens when you make real decisions.

    Just imagine, for a brief second that history took a different path.

    Tony Blair refused to back the USA in the invasion of Iraq.

    Saddam could still be in power, we wouldn’t be aware of non-existance of “WMD’s” and our PM would have been perceived as weak for not standing up to terrorism and going against our biggest ally in WW2 in the face of 9/11.

    I’m not saying the decision was right but it’s very easy for us to judge after the event.

    How many wars are we fighting now? In 100 years we will realise just how terrible a mistake attacking Moslems to get oil for america was.

    • 292.
    • At 01:24 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Adam wrote:

    That’s a pretty good summary, Nick, but I think you missed out a word. I’m sure you meant to insert the word “never” in the sentence “Next, the Great Persuader convinced the British public that they could trust his party again.”

    Apart from the obvious way he destroyed any last vestiges of trust with his lies about WMD in Iraq, don’t forget his promises not to introduce top-up fees or to increase the basic rate of income tax (which NI is by any sensible definition).

    • 293.
    • At 01:25 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • D Morrice wrote:

    I think it’s atrocious that he has lingered on as our head of state for so long but I think part of this is down to a modern British apathy about Government policies. The mistake he made with Iraq, the chilling Kelly affair, and the colossal mess he has created there meant he should have resigned a long time ago. Then I might have had some respect for him – I’m afraid I dont have any whatsoever now.

    • 294.
    • At 01:27 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark Chatburn wrote:

    For me, Tony’s enduring legacy will be one of missed opportunities and of disappointing underachievement. In 1997, he was fortunate enough to inherit a strengthening economy and enjoyed an enormous mandate from the people. There is no question that many of his policies have been well intentioned, the tax credits springs to mind, but have been appallingly mismanaged – an estimated �5 billion in overpayments truly beggars belief.

    Tony Blair had a greater opportunity to affect genuine change for the better than any PM is likely to enjoy for many years to come, but he has largely let it slip through his fingers. There is no doubt that he is a man of integrety and well intentioned, but time after time he has replaced the fawning buffoons around him with even greater incompetents and sadly his best has not been good enough.

    Of course, nobody can predict how history will view him, but I will be surprised if it was anything other than so much time and so little done…

    • 295.
    • At 01:28 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul wrote:

    Blairs legacy? The daily occurance of children shooting & stabbing each other for ‘respect’ & for kicks in our inner-cities. That’s how much life has been de-valued under B-liar. For all his tough talk, Blair has has used feeble, almost comical gimmicks to deal with the crises of youth crime, such as the Abso & on-the-spot finess as opposed proper tough custodial sentences. Consequently our children are less protected than ever from crime & more exposed to violence than ever before and the elderly are imprisoned in their own homes.

    • 296.
    • At 01:29 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Stuart Bushell wrote:

    Here Here Matt parker.

    Your comments echo mine. The British public as a whole have very short memories. Tony Blair gave this country a leader who did what he thought was right and not what he thought would get him re-elected. It’s a shame that we cannot have a time machine to go back and see what the country or the world would have been like if he had given in to the, in my opionion,cowards who curtail to any country who threatens our liberty. Well done Tony you have a legacy to be proud of.

    • 297.
    • At 01:29 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Anonymous wrote:

    Tony Blair, the people’s emotion. Gordon Brown, the people’s hole in their pocket.

    • 298.
    • At 01:29 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andy Mallet wrote:

    Good riddance..!!

    • 299.
    • At 01:29 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Vernon Hull wrote:

    All political careers, Enoch Powell once observed, end in failure. But in Blair’s case it is not so much failure as disappointment. There have been successes – most obviously a stable economy, investment in public swervices, Northern Ireland etc.. But there have equally been huge disappointments particularly for those who invested so much hope in ‘the new dawn’. Sadly that new dawn all too soon acquired a familiar look.
    The poor and poverty are still with us in increasingly unacepteble and menacing forms and Iraq has been the predictable disaster so many of us marched against.
    Blair, long ago lost faith in his party. But over the course of the last few years he appeared to lose faith in the majority of his people – excepting,of course, the rich and the economically powerful. This apparent cynicism and condesceion to the views of ordinary people has cost him and his party dearly.
    It is als o at the very heart of the overwhelming sense disappointment which surrounds the nd of his Prime Ministership. He promised so much and could have achieved so much in making Britain a fairer society and really defining Britain as a radical and progresiive force in the world. Instead he leaves office with Britain still a more unequal society than all of our major European partners and still, in the shadow of Pax Americana, reliving the delusions of our Imperial past. How difeerent it could have been. How disappointing it has been.

    135 postings on Nick’s article as I write this so we obviously do think that Tony Blair has been at least a high profile leader if not necessarily an A-List one.
    A leader has the (moral if not legal) responsibility to run the entire country in the best interests of the entire country – not just in the interests of those who voted for them. Tony Blair has done this.
    As someone who has never voted for him (but who always votes), I think he has run the country for ten years in a way that included the silent majority’s best interests and wishes at all times. Northern Ireland is a perfect example.
    You may think the much derided focus groups are a Westminster Wonk-fest, but how else does government learn what we want or think? Referenda? We can’t be bothered to vote. Sticking to published electoral promises? Out of date and irrelevant before the opening of Parliament. Other politicians? Journalists? Nope.

    We want what we want and we want it now, but we reserve the right to change what we want as and when we see fit. He has always tried to be in touch with the country as a whole and to respect the wishes and wants of the silent majority and indeed many large minorities. He has always appeared to be fair, unbiased and welcoming in his approach to new ideas and has tried out a number of technology and financial innovations. Not all work, but then that is how we learn for the next time.

    Give the man a break. He gave autonomy where it worked better than centralisation, he kept us calm and together when we were named as a top terrorist target, we are well fed, relatively fit and healthy, relatively rich, generally well educated and free to think and act as we please. He made the country a fairer and more welcoming place for various groups who had been treated as second class citizens before. He introduced anti-sleaze rules for members of Parliament, yet he “will be remembered for sleaze”. Since when did receiving a knighthood indicate anything other than being ‘influential’ in a particular area? The whole structure of recognition and rewards “for services rendered” is nonsense and always has been – something Tony Blair has said many times and something he has worked to dismantle.

    Most of all he cared what we thought of him when we told him he was wrong. On a personal level, not just on a percentage of seats in the House at the next election level.

    He was unfortunate to have an idiot in the White House for the last six years of his tenure but the USA will be rid of Bush soon and so we can get back to normal UK/USA relations. Even Tony Blair cannot be blamed for the US Supreme Court’s actions in allowing Bush to win. I have never seen him look totally comfortable in Bush’s company; more irritated and embarrassed than a loyal loving spaniel or poodle. He was supportive of the Office, not of the man.

    Iraq is a mess. The people of Iraq are suffering terribly – apart from the Kurds who are safe and better off now in their semi-autonomous region. Did we forget that they were Saddam’s biggest victims? A dictatorship always leaves a vacuum -but, the removal of Saddam could have been a huge success had the USA had a leader with half a brain and an interest in genuinely helping that country rather than just showing he could dominate it.

    Iraq – Northern Ireland.
    Sunni vs. Shi’ite – Catholic vs. Protestant. Outside interests financing each side. Much the same problem, much the same solution? Sadly it may take forty years to fix that one IF we can keep the USA interested for long enough.

    Oh how history teaches us what we do not know, if we’d only read it.

    So Tony is hanging up his leader’s hat and will be off travelling the world seeking his next challenge and yes he’ll earn millions in doing so. Lucky sod?
    The harder you work the luckier you get I find and I haven’t seen a harder working world leader anywhere in the last ten years.
    We WILL miss him, love him or loathe him.

    • 301.
    • At 01:31 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • gman wrote:

    Quit crying about Iraq, he aint the first British Leader to take you to war for no reason – Isn’t that what you did for centuries? Killing in and destroying foreign lands is a British tradition.

    • 302.
    • At 01:32 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rob wrote:

    Sleaze. The Dome. Iraq.

    Wasted money and wasted lives – which will continue for years after his departure.

    What a miserable legacy.

    • 303.
    • At 01:32 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • ginny campbell wrote:

    Tony Blair came into power with great promise and he HAS deliverd. Low unemployment etc He is a mere mortal and will/has made mistakes but for saving Sierra Leone and bringing it to the nations conscience, I as a second generation immigrant hailing from Sierra Leone will be forever grateful. Long Live the PM.

    • 304.
    • At 01:32 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter O’Connell wrote:

    Nick

    I would be grateful if you could explain why the 1 o’clock news was almost entirely given over to a eulogy for Blair. This announcement has been trailed for so long it barely counts as news.

    What else happened in the world today? Who knows because the BBC simply isn’t interested!

    • 305.
    • At 01:33 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • sue wrote:

    How can we miss him when he’s not going to go until he’s finished his Grand Tour? Can the Labour Party please speed up their election process so we can Blair out of here!

    • 306.
    • At 01:33 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark wrote:

    A question I would like to ask those criticising Tony Blair on many issues is “what would you have done”? Left Saddam Hussein to torture and murder his opponents, and to threaten his neighbours in the Middle East? Left employers to pay sweatshop wages to overworked staff? Left vital public services to “market forces”? Left the economy in the hands of city traders after a fast buck (remember interest rates over 3 times today’s “high” level – no wonder house prices were lower!)? Swept environmental issues under the carpet in the hope that someone else will sort it out?

    The last 10 years may not have been perfect, but the alternative of another 10 years of Tory government doesn’t bear thinking about. I just hope Gordon can do as good a job.

    • 307.
    • At 01:33 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ben Ross wrote:

    One line on northern ireland? Blair deserves more credit than that

    • 308.
    • At 01:34 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Val wrote:

    At last all the media organisations can publish the tributes they’ve had on file waiting for this day to publish them!

    At last we can read what nobody really cares about anymore!

    At last somebody is actually doing something about trying to fix this desperately broken country!

    At last, that man is Tony Blair and at last he has made a decision that is for the good of the country!

    • 309.
    • At 01:34 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul Gill wrote:

    Tony Blair is many things and has hugely disappointed me in many areas (including Iraq). However, he must be congratulated for thinking the unthinkable and achieving peace in Northern Ireland. I thought he was mad at first but the process he helped to implement has helped bring about peace in the region. I never thought I’d see the day when Paisley and McGuiness sat in government together. Whether the peace lasts we have yet to see but Blair helped deliver that and that may well prove to be his biggest ever achievment.

    • 310.
    • At 01:34 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ed2003 wrote:

    I have no doubt that history will judge Tony Blair in a better light than we see him now. And they will be wrong.

    I really wish people would stop citing Blair as a political genius who ushered in a new era of politics. He has done nothing of the kind. He simply followed the broad principles of Tory economic policy and pledged to invest the gains in public services – exactly what the Conservatives would have done (only more efficiently).

    The Labour government inherited a hugely robust economic situation and they rode high on it before squandering it on ridiculous social policies like the minimum wage, unreformed public services, totally illiberal civil laws.

    People are better off and cities are more developed than in 1997? Of course they are….it’s called economic growth. Growth with almost nothing to do with the policies of the Labour government. The Health Service was performing more treatments than ever before when Thatcher left office, and the same could be said for almost any other PM since its inception. It’s no new thing.

    So Blair, and Brown for that matter, have increased the tax burden, reduced the competitiveness of the economy, clamped down on civil liberties and have given back an improvement in public services which is standard for any growing economy.

    What a genius. Good riddance. Although I should be honest and say that I dislike any politician of any persuasion.

    • 311.
    • At 01:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • mike wrote:

    Look at Iraq today After all the doommongers have had their say what we see is a country finally taking control of its own destiny.

    Al Queda is being squeezed out,the only bombings are those of Al Queda everyone elsejust wants their country back and under their control.

    Give them time.

    Tony Blair was right you know.

    • 312.
    • At 01:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Sandra wrote:

    How can you praise Blair with his emotional, phony chin-wobbling speeches. His part in the invasion of Iraq has made this country a far less safe place to live, apart from the misery it has inflicted on the ordinary people of Iraq, for which they could, quite rightly, never forgive us. The only bad thing about Tony Blair going is that we’ll get Gordon Brown instead, but at least his speeches will be factual and not laced with insincere emotion.

    • 313.
    • At 01:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nicola Molloy wrote:

    Actually the credit for Northern Ireland finally finding peace should go to the late great Mo Mowlam and not the soon to be forgotten Mr Blair. It is an insult to those gone before to actually call this man a statesman- There are no statesmen left only career politicians. Hopefully the next incumbent will sort out the home country first before going overseas to spend our hard earned cash. In the 21st cent. why does a country like ours still have such levels of poverty, crime, poor health and education. If we had leaders we could respect then maybe, just maybe that would permeate our society and we could be proud of ourselves and our country once more. All Blair has done is make me feel resentful of the big brother state we live in and embarassed to go abroad and say I am British. Its about time the politicians got out of fat cat london and led by example- something most of them have so far failed to do.Come and live in the real Britain and see what its really like living with Blair’s rule…

    • 314.
    • At 01:39 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Darren Richards wrote:

    Blair’s legacy?

    All style and no substance…

    Think back 10yrs and the UK was coming out of recession and optimism was building…Blair inherited that, and what has he done?

    Allowed open borders and mass immigration that now sees many English towns as no-go areas(recent BBC Panorama program highlighted)

    Crime has risen, especially violent crime.

    Prisons full to capacity.

    Individual debt levels at huge levels.

    Shamble of Tax credits and more stealth taxes.

    AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…IRAQ!
    And we all now he lied, Mr Kelly died under suspicious circumstances, WMD never found, Hans Blix ignored and UN not endorsed War. I hope he sleeps at night knowing the pain he has caused in the deaths of Iraqis and our soldiers…

    And is the Middle East Safer? NO
    Has extremism increased? Yes

    Goodbye Blair and shut the door firmly on the way out!

    • 315.
    • At 01:39 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Underwood wrote:

    Louise (no.8) on the comments about Tony Blair sums it up VERY accurately. She misspells Tony Blair, as ‘Tony B liar!’ Exactly! Point made!!

    David

    • 316.
    • At 01:43 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gary wrote:

    Please don’t forget the fact he is directly responsible for 140 British soldiers deaths.

    But as a Staff Nurse in the NHS for 5 years, things have improved massively.

    I remain undecided but he will be missed. Iraq was a fatal mistake but I do belive he thought he it was the right thing to do. This many civilian and military fatalities and injuries mean his potentially great legacy has been tarnished forever.

    • 317.
    • At 01:43 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Darren wrote:

    All those talking about improved living standards over the last 10 years need to get on their knees and thank God for Margret Thatcher. You can bet, behind the closed door of no. 10, Tony Blair does!

    All those who don’t believe me, name 3 economic policies introduced by Blair that have benefitted the economy (and don’t include giving away the control of interest Rates to the BOE, this cynical act for cretins that removed Governmental responsibility, not Governmental control!)

    • 318.
    • At 01:45 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alan Rafter wrote:

    Tony Blair has been the best post war leader this country has seen. Those who hate him probably hate all those who do not agree with them.I believe he has changed this country for the better and will be missed. An excellent man and leader.

    • 319.
    • At 01:45 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Roland Jones wrote:

    Nick’s evaluation is very balanced I think, and his conclusion that Tony Blair will be missed is absolutely spot on..and how. You will see his popularity increase exponetially from the point of his departure, particularly when we are being led by either Gordon who’s had a personality bypass or David (Lord Snooty)Cameron, a living example of the triumph of style over substance.

    Even on Iraq we have to wait for the judgement of history. Everyone can admit that it’s a tragedy, but no-one is in a position to know what the state of the region would be now had we done nothing and left Saddam in place; potentially much more unstable and dangerous. Be in no doubt that ‘doing nothing’ was the only other option on the table, Hans Blix and his merry men had got nowhere for 12 years and the UN would happily have continued for another 12. It may be somewhat comforting to people to believe that Tony Blair ‘lied’ about WMD and went to war for his own satisfaction, but it is just so much nonsense.

    Overall, the legacy debate indicates what we do to politicians and why few people in their right mind would take on the job. Their purpose is to be blamed for the state of the world, thereby absolving we commentators, carpers, whingers, do-nothings and worst of all opinionated journalists of the blame.

    I think what irritates people most is that we desperately need it to be true that ‘all political careers end in failure’. How dare Tony Blair disprove that at least in some part!

    • 320.
    • At 01:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Raoul wrote:

    Blair: Greatest nation on earth and greatest people on earth? Dream on, living on an isolated island not only gives you arrogance but also the belief that what you have is the best. I’ve had the benefit of living in three major European countries for periods longer than 7 years, including Britain (16 years), unlike Blair, and if he would do so he would realize that the ‘Great’ should have been disassociated from ‘Britain’ many, many years ago. Every day you read how the UK ranks bottom or near to bottom in something, and it’s not for nothing I quickly moved abroad when my daughter was born. I wouldn’t want her to grow up with the same attitudes and dangers in society. And before you say that Blair’s predecessors were at fault, I’d say undoubtedly! The nation has been sick for many years! Remove the blinkers and live in the real world!

    • 321.
    • At 01:47 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • jonas K wrote:

    Tony, hate him or love him, is good. The same with Nick Robinson. I actually hate Nick’s arrogance. However, his cocky and oh-so-self assuredly-confident style of reporting, never fails to rouse my interest and listen.
    The same with Blair.
    How ironic that it is Nick who should write the critical, crispy and cocky resume of Tony’s decade as PM!

    • 322.
    • At 01:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Morrison wrote:

    Two points:
    – could I recommend people read historian Ian Kerhsaw’s excellent summation elsewhere on the BBC site
    – the worst thing about Blair is that he breeds cynicsm in politics. He’s not unique in that as it’s been the same – to a greater and lesser degree – since time immemorial. Today’s humble “back to the roots”/”man of conviction”/”look guys, I did the best based on my solild convictions..now let’s be photographed having a pint with some working class people” may be his most sincere, personal speech of all time. But it’s all contrived cobblers, because you know all his spindoctors have been beavering away for months to make it appear just that!

    • 323.
    • At 01:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris L wrote:

    Tony Blair should be remembered. He has a magnificent record for either failing to deliver or allowing others under his leadership to bring about catastrophic failure. Education, education education I seem to remember but the result is more people than ever are sending their offspring to private schools. National Health was a priority but the waiting list farce means focus is put on ensuring the individuals involved get put into catagories not counted rather than actually speeding up treatment.
    Immigration policy, or lack of it, has allowed Britain to be a haven for those seeking to make their relative fortune then take or send it all back to their home country. Ok,in some countries it has been a benefit but in New Zealand, for example, house prices have increased as a direct result of wealthy returnees.
    The biggest and longest lasting legacy must be surely the greatest disaster yet to befall this country. It is one that future governments and a significant number of the voting public will feel the affect of for years to come. It is of course the Pensions fiasco. The money grap he allowed Gordon to undertake and continue to grab each year. Not only has it created the crisis it had a significant knock on effect on available investment funding for industry expansion. That single decision has cost the whole country dearly.
    But sorry, I forgot he has delivered something, the greatest number of tax increases ever imposed in 10 years.
    And another thing, he has set up his greatest foe, Gordon, for the biggest downfall as Labour gradually dissapears into its own self destruct cycle.
    So farewell Tony, you will be remembered just not for the things you would probably want to be remembered for.

    • 324.
    • At 01:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul Crask wrote:

    I think you have summed it up well.
    When I compare the feelings I had when he was elected to those I have now he’s leaving, I can’t help but think that it has all been somewhat disappointing. When the Conservatives finally lost and Blair walked into our lives as a fresh new leader, I too felt euphoric, proud to be British again. Cool Britiannia.
    Today as I read the headlines on the internet, and your summary, I am reminded that one of the reasons I emmigrated two years ago was that I just couldn’t bare the society that had developed in England. It seemed everything had been built upon greed. Some people seemed to have obscene amounts of money to fritter away on themselves, people on my street were robbed and beaten up by kids making films on cell phones, I felt nervous about walking the streets at night. It felt like my home had become a place I couldn’t related to any longer, and I certainly didn’t like the idea of raising children there. I began to feel disenfranchised from the values I had helped to create by supporting New Labour – and there was no other party to turn too. And so I feel a sense of relief that this period of Britain’s life is now over. Whether anyone else would have been better or worse, who knows. And despite some of the great things he did manage to achieve – in particular NI – I can’t help but think that Tony Blair has been the biggest disappointment of my time. Unfortunately with Cameron of Brown, I think we’re in for more of the same. But at least we know that this time. Lukewarm Britannia.

    • 325.
    • At 01:52 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris Smillie wrote:

    Blair said you may disagree with me on Iraq but believe I’m doing it for the right reasons. Then we found out he lied. Bush unilaterally gave away the Palestinian territory by saying we must look at ‘the situation on the ground’, Blair refused to condemn it. And Lebanon? How many innocents died then because calling for peace wouldn’t end the war? Freeing Alan Johnston won’t end the Israeli-Palestine conflict either, so why bother? (clue for Tony Blair: it’s got something to do with innocent lives).

    Deeply damaging to Britain and unbelievably disappointing. If only there was a decent opposition.

    • 326.
    • At 01:52 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tony wrote:

    Emily Benn wrote: Nick,

    Your dislike of Tony Blair is evident from almost everything i see from you, but i thought i might as well tell you what a 17 year old from South London thinks……..What do i know? i cant even vote yet, i dont earn a living yet nor pay tax.”

    I value the opinion of a 17 year old but I would like to remind you that your perception on reality is a little unedcuated at best simply due to inexperience. When the time comes when you find a job your perception might change somewhat. Taxation will affect you, unemployment will affect you, shortage in housing will affect you. All of these things you are currently unqualified to speak upon as you are when you speak of how A ‘levels aren’t too easy now.

    When the people you went to school with have died on foreign battlefields, when your parents pension fund has collapsed, when you really begin to understand how politics works and how it takes time to change the way we live, then you will understand.

    I detest Blair for what he has done to this country and the smug way in which he has gone about it but Nick is right; one year after Blair steps down and Brown steps in we will be missing Blair and wishing he had stayed.

    With any joy the next Prime Minister will be David Cameron and we can move on. I don’t like Cameron any more but a change is as good as a break.

    • 327.
    • At 01:52 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Adrian Cottrell wrote:

    Interesting discussion. I for one will always remember Tony Blair as the self-publicised Christian who has seen his government preside over enormous promotion of legal gambling, the increased tolerance of homosexuality, the denegration of the family and 24 hour drinking, whilst hoisting taxation to a level never-before achieved in a peacetime economy. What a legacy?!!

    • 328.
    • At 01:53 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Douglas wrote:

    I am glad that the Prime Minister is leaving office in June – for his own sake. Our oh-so-negative Media has had a field day with him: not a trickle of abuse, but a torrent! They will find someone else to blame now. He will be viewed in time as one of the finest Prime Ministers. I salute him. Britain is a far better, and more prosperous place now, in spite of the perception continually presented to us in the Meda. Child poverty is well on the way to being eradicated, our schools are getting better, as is our Health Service, and Crime is down under his Premiership. These are all things, of course, that will continue to stick in the gullets of his detractors. On the world stage he is unequalled, well out front in tackling Global Warming, World Poverty, Terrorism and, now achieving Peace in Ireland. He is also a great human being who has never once lost his “cool”, but is always straightforward and polite in spite of the “spin” that the media constantly puts on his policies and motives. Why are we losing him? the Media will ask. They have only to look at themselves and the great dis-service they do to our country!

    • 329.
    • At 01:53 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ron MacRae wrote:

    Speaking as someone who voted for Blair 1st time round. I’ve never been so dissapointed with a government. They have lied & repeated the lies time and time again. They seem to feel if they say things often enough they become true. What is more dissapointing is that they seem to get away with it.

    His, and his governments, legacy is that I can no-longer watch political programmes on TV because I get so angry.

    Also IMO he and his buddy George W. invaded Iraq under false pretences and should be tried for war crimes. There never were WoMD nor was there any evidence of WoMD, other than what they made up based on a few vague intelligence reports that they rewrote for their own benefit.

    • 330.
    • At 01:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter wrote:

    Nick

    A fair summing up – possibly…

    A highly personal viewpoint – almost certainly….

    The people who struggle to afford decent schools and healthcare, and who long to own their own living accomodation and have some control over their own lives will almost certainly have a different view of TB’s ‘legacy’!

    TB, and his party, were (and are) obsessed with ‘spin’ and many of the shambles he created will haunt us for years.

    So many questions unanswered.

    So many actions unchallenged.

    No blame, no fault, no responsibilities.

    A true PM for our time.

    God save us from Brown!

    • 331.
    • At 01:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mark wrote:

    Only Tony Blair could instinctively understand that his going could itself revitalise Labour’s prospects – and not because of his unpopularity.

    We shall now have a period of media and public reflection on the Blair years that will shape perceptions well into the future. We shall be treated to interviews in which his ‘mea culpa’ statements will effectively separate his mistakes and unpopularity from his party and his successor. We shall witness the start of a new New Labour project, the creation of a hagiography of Blair the reformer that will cement Blairism (or variants of it) in Labour for a generation.

    All of that – all of it – has been carefully crafted and plotted in No 10 over months. Only Blair could do that as well and as effectively.

    His most important achievement was, I think, to ensure that Labour was electable and could become an alternative government. Britain needed a change in 1997 and Blair made sure that electors could vote for one with a clear conscience.

    Contrasted with the sad day that Labour elected that shambling former firebrand orator and donkey jacket wearer Michael Foot as their party’s best proposition for leadership of our country, Blair’s election to the leadership of his party and his transformation of Labour into an electable government that could take power in May 1997 seemed encouraging, even exciting. Blair understood – as Kinnock and Smith did before him – that old Labour values were simply unconnected with the spirit of Britain.

    Donkey jackets apart, the Foot period spoke volumes about what was wrong with late 20th century Labourism. It was entrenched in class war antagonisms, fuelled by the emnities of the 1930s in which ‘capital’ was pitted against ‘labour’ in a deadly duel, and ultimately it amounted to a sad, tired and uninspiring set of principles that were frankly irrelevant to most people’s lives.

    Blair knew that class affinities were being expunged, ambition and striving for a better life had replaced ‘class solidarity’, and that an economic revolution was underway in the structure of our economy. Today over 42% of the working population are managers, professionals or associate professionals. Labourism – the identification of ‘class struggle’ as the focus of political discourse and action – was dead, and Blair knew it.

    I have never – and will never – vote for Labour or for the Tory party. But I can admire and respect the efforts of this skillful politician to create an alternative to the bankruptcy of Tory presumption, sleaze and self-serving in 1997.

    If nothing else, he gave many people a reason to go to the polls again.

    • 332.
    • At 01:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Shallcross wrote:

    What I will remember Blair and his government for is, Tax on pension funds, the Hinduja passport scandal, the eventual double sacking of Mandelson, the double sacking of Blunkett, poor Dr David Kelly and the fight between Alistair Campbell and the BBC, all of the stealth taxes, and of course the constant spin and lies. Has anyone actually heard an MP answer a question since he invented spin?

    Blair was elected partly on a promise to clean up government, he didn�t do that, the NHS is on it�s knees, education is on it�s knees. The only positive thing I can think of is Ireland, and as a previous writer said John Major started that.

    Now Blair is leaving Iraq in a complete disgusting mess to enjoy a fat salary for life which he does not deserve.

    • 333.
    • At 01:59 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Robin Tudge wrote:

    He’s a stasi-ist war criminal who’s handed every remaining vestige of this country, down to our children’s fingerprints, over to corporations and banks while letting us become random subject to shoot-to-kill police or extradition by the US and EU.
    He’s sick, and infected us with his cancer.

    • 334.
    • At 02:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • d. moore wrote:

    I find it interesting that Blair now feels that the time is ‘right’ for him to leave office.

    The report on the ‘Cash for Honours’ is with the DPP and Blair has chosen to leave BEFORE the result is publically announced. Although you can be certain that he already knows what the report contains.

    If, as he has claimed that he knew nothing, was not involved, and repudiates any inference that he was instrumental in the discussions and negotiations with the participants. Surely if he is innocent then he would want to remain and be in office when the report is published.

    Or, is it that he is himself deeply involved and the need to leave office is a necessity to limit damage to the Labour Party and to be away from Parliament when the ‘s–t hits the fan’

    Ah well there goes another polically and financially corrupt politician who will not be missed except by those who ‘supported’ him !!!!

    • 335.
    • At 02:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter Reed wrote:

    At the last election, didn’t he promise to serve a full term? He leaves on yet another lie. How fitting.

    • 336.
    • At 02:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mac Eddey wrote:

    He can’t go far enough or fast enough for me.

    Billions wasted on the public sector creating a client state of ‘New Labour’ voters; thousands dead in Iraq; sleaze as an artform. The master of spin and half-truth, Tony Blair has devalued both politics and democracy, claimed credit for better men’s (and women’s) efforts and presided over the steady decline of our nation.

    The bad news is – it’s going to get worse under Gordon Brown

    • 337.
    • At 02:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • mark S wrote:

    Generally a fair summary I think.

    The contradictions in the range of emails perhaps point to the contradictions in Tony Blair’s time in office i.e. he is “unprincipled and dishonest” but “didn’t back down on Iraq”. The complaints are too simplistic anyway. What they screwed up was the peace not the “war”. Now its not the foreign soldiers who are causing the main damage but the Iraq’s own people and faith.

    I am also struck by the complaints against Blair generally summed up as “too in love with the media / publicity/ all sound bites and no substance”. These are followed by other comments that Gordon Brown is not “my sort of Prime Minister” as he is not charismatic enough. Bring on that nice Dave Cameron then who seems to me to embody the same faults as Tone in that respect. May be we, the electorate, need a dose of dour Scottish substance to act as antidote. No one will see it like that as again they will be seduced by youthfulness, apparent charm and good looks and more sound bites. Plus ca change.

    One other thing for you, Nick – you must be doing something right to be accused within 10 emails of being biased to both the Tory and the Labour parties!

    • 338.
    • At 02:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ian Allwork wrote:

    We all believed in Mr Blair to improve
    past political failings:poor NHS and Education.
    Today,at much cost,we see no significant changes for the good of the working British public,except extra individual tax burden.
    British people would have forgiven false leadership into Iraq,if education and NHS, had been world class institutions.
    I am afraid his fresh air got very stale,even so, we will have a charismatic void.

    • 339.
    • At 02:02 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul Wilcox wrote:

    Certainly rose tinted glasses, Nick.

    1. Nearly 6 million unemployed – dressed up in various guises to hide the fact.
    2. The country nearly 46 billion pounds in the red last financial year.
    3. A possibility of 1 million illegal immigrants in the country. Many working illegally for low pay with no rights!
    4. Crime down – but serious crime… crime that really does worry people… crime involving weapons – up!!!
    5. Tax through income or by stealth up and given back (mostly to those who don’t need it) as credits. Wasteful and misdirected, and whats the point… don’t take it in the first place.. than maybe some of the 6 million might go back to work (think Frank Field).
    6. Drinking and gambling positively encouraged.
    7. Massive spending on public services but with no clear improvements. Wastefully spent on managing the increased spending and not on the coal face.
    8. Senior education managers admitting we are turning out more and more young adults with little in the way of an education. Perhaps there is a place for the illegal immigrants to work legally to support the growing numbers of unemployable British citizens.
    9. Saviour of Northern Ireland but started another home front of terrorism.
    10. And the dirtiest of dirty governments that is only comparable with Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF (jobs for the boys, suppression of the masses etc etc).

    There you go.. a point for every year.

    Someone please dig out the 1997, New Labour pledge card and let us know how well they did keeping those pledges in last 10 years

    • 340.
    • At 02:03 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike Edwards wrote:

    Blair manages his exit with the same incompetent bungling that has been the hallmark of his tenure. 10 years and so little achieved – so many things started and left unfinished, unresolved. Here was a gadfly flitting from one new thing to another – not the leader ensuring that things got done. How were we all fooled for so long?

    Waste, inefficiency, missed opportunities – there is hardly anything that the Blair government touched that didn’t go wrong. Just ask the farmers suffering from the Rural Mispayments Agency.

    And of course Iraq. The mother of all messes. Real people have died and continue to die in their tens of thousands. Will they sing a hymn of praise to Tony and all his works?

    • 341.
    • At 02:03 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dan wrote:

    What is going on? I can’t believe what I’m reading from the Blair apologists!
    It’s like going back to 1945 and hearing Germans saying:
    ‘Hitler might have got the war wrong but he did wonders for our living standards and remember what the economy was like before he got in!’

    He is an out ‘n out War Criminal who along with Campbell and Goldsmith, should be spending a the rest of his life in jail!

    • 342.
    • At 02:03 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steve Hemingway wrote:

    Who was it who said that you can fake most things, but if you can fake sincerity you’re really getting somewhere? This is the real Blair Legacy to me- the thought that, when you heard him speak (particularly if you actually saw him ) he was immensely believeable, fantastically convincing.It was only when you looked critcally at what he did-or didn’t- say, you realise the truth.Could any other politician have carried the house in the vote for war? I think not.He will go down in history for me as being the best snake oil salesman this country ever had.

    • 343.
    • At 02:06 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • James wrote:

    I mostly agree with your analysis Nick, but I would go so far as to praise Tony Blair. He is a great prime minister, and one in my view staggeringly unappreciated by a frightfully myopic and capricious electorate, too easily led around blind by sneering, cynical media fashionistas.

    Tony Blair has redefined British politics, introduced countless public service reforms and measures for social justice and equality, and largely turned around 18 years of Tory neglect and destruction. The sheer ignorance of his most vehement detractors, some of which is on show here, is mind-boggling – some of you people have incredibly short memories.

    I am very sad to see Tony go – an inspiring leader of character, calibre and fortitide. We shall not see his like again for a long time.

    • 344.
    • At 02:06 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tom wrote:

    I am a back seat sort of polciitcs person so will not have much to argue with on policies or his wrong doings, such as, the academics and like minded people posting previously. I have supoported Labour since the late John Smith became leader of the party, previously i was Tories but lost all faith in them. All I say, Tony Blair has one of the harddest periods of cabinet to get through with war, terrorist attacks on a massive scale and on taking office in 97, getting the economy out of recession, and I think of no one better could do that. Please name someone in Labour who could have done a better job? And for Tories, I still can’t see anyone who could have done a better job.

    Plus you mention Tony Blairs lying on polciies, etc. He is a politician after all, name me someone who wouldn’t have done the same in the same position in any party.

    I think a lot of criticism on this website is due, but then again, no one else could have done much better.

    • 345.
    • At 02:07 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jon wrote:

    Frankly, most people in this country know little more than what appears on Eastenders. Such a sad, narrow minded nation can only say things like “we need a change” as justification for removing a government. If we are not careful that change will bring back the greed of the Tories. Well done Tony, other than Iraq you did a great job. There is nobody else on the British political stage in the same league. As for legacy, Thatcher will always be hated by a generation (unless of course you live in Bournemouth or Eastbourne.) Your legacy will be stronger!

    • 346.
    • At 02:08 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew wrote:

    I’m probably a little less charitable than most on the question of whether Mr Blair is a conviction politician or whether he is a slave to opinion polls and focus groups (I suppose the reality is a bit of both). Some of his ideas I have agreed with, some I think are plain wrong, but the same goes for almost everyone posting comments here.

    For me, what has characterised his tenure in office is the vast gulf between reality and illusion where the government’s performance is concerned. Time after time, the implementation of policies has been botched, through failure to achieve the stated objectives, failure to spot possible unintended consequences in advance, or, where objectives have been met, through failure to keep control of the cost/benefit equation. The causes vary, from failing to think things through to the ineptitude of ministers, but the determination of the government and the media advisers to portray even the most woeful failure as a success, or the fault of the Tories (even ten years on!), has been a constant.

    I don’t think it’s enough for a Prime Minister simply to have good intentions in going about his business. He has to be competent if he is to be seen as having done a good job. The problem with targets that are set high is that you have further you fall if you don’t make them. All to often, Mr Blair and his appointees have not been competent and have not hit their targets. His legacy will, for the most part, be one of failure – even if of a very British kind.

    • 347.
    • At 02:08 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gill Wright wrote:

    Inheriting a strong UK economy in 1997 and benefiting from the strengths of globalised economy since, if the UK had an ebullient economy for the last 10 years, then the ineptitude of this government in so many ways would have shown much sooner.
    Our manufacturing capability is reduced to a fraction of our GDP which looks fine while we are getting cheap imports, but we have no easy way back if those economies falter.
    Too much reliance is put on one sector, the earnings of the City of London. The City money market has always provided a good foundation on which everything else can thrive, but it should not be relied on exclusively.
    The growth of the economy in the last 10 years has been on the back of credit and debt. Now we are looking at domestic interest rates rising, many people struggling with repayments and the prospect of negative equity on the horizon again. Mr. Brown as Chancellor has claimed his responsibility for the good. Now, as the likely Prime Minister following Mr. Blair’s departure, is he going to be hoist by his own petard?

    • 348.
    • At 02:10 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Geoffrey Bryan Richardson wrote:

    My political awareness was started by the Churchill government during the war. In my opinion Tony Blair has been the most charismatic orator and politician of my lifetime. He has also been the worst Prime Minister in living memory.

    • 349.
    • At 02:10 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • OJP wrote:

    Reading the Vitriolic way in which many have reacted to news of Blairs depature is quite frankly astounding and depressing – it says much of the short term and fickle memory of the British public. Yes like everybody he has made mistakes but how quickly people forget the sleaze and negativism associated with the Major years. Blair was a pragmatist. So often condemded over Iraq but in reality Bush and the Neocons would have invaded with or without the UK. Blair was a stabilising force- Iraq would be in an even worse state now if we hadnt aided the Americans.He is not responsible for the primative tribal hatreds between Sunni and Shia which are tearing that country apart.In British led areas in the south much progress has been made He is condemed by many for leading us into a “War for Oil” but those same people who take such a lofty moral ground are the ones who would be wailing and moaning if the fuel wasnt there for their 4x4s and holidays abroad. In almost every area of life things have been improved under Blair. Sure there is still work to be done but anyone who believes that health and education havent improved under Blair is deluding themselves. I have seen the improvements in health care first hand and what more do people want from an NHS were everything is free ? He has done the best that anyone could possibly do in an impossible job and those who carp and whine should reflect on what else could possibly be expected of the man. You dont know what you got till you loose it. His lasting legacy will be Northern Ireland. The sight of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness this week -taking power together- was truly incredible. That wouldnt of happened without Blair. People who hate and mock him should reflect on whether they themselves have contributed anything at all to society. Tony Blair has contributed more than any other Prime Minister and Britain owes him an enourmous amount. Just how good he was will become clear in the years ahead – how we will reflect back on these Golden years if that muppet Cameron gets in !!

    • 350.
    • At 02:11 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rob Christopher wrote:

    His legacy can be summed up in two words: War Criminal

    • 351.
    • At 02:11 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • paul walker wrote:

    Thank heavens he has gone, I got so exasperated with New Labour I left the UK for Ireland and vowed never to return to UK until Blair had gone..No doubt he and Cherie will start the grand tour starting with the USA.. not sorry to see this rea over stealth taxes, I formed my Busineeses in Ireland as the costs of the same in UK a show stopper..poor Mr Brown he now has the poisned chalice of poor economic news etc

    • 352.
    • At 02:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ian Lewis wrote:

    I still think he will best be remembered for ‘Animal Farm’, which is in many ways more accessible for the younger reader than ‘1984’ or ‘Down and Out…’.

    • 353.
    • At 02:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Two Teas wrote:

    It’s really all about honesty, isn’t it? The Iraq dossier was a thoroughly dishonest piece of work. And would an honest man employ the likes of Mandelson and Campbell? Why would he need them if not to present untruths to the public? And the one unanswered question:just when exactly did Tony Blair say to George Bush: “We’re in. If you want to invade Iraq I’ll make sure the UK comes with you”? I don’t know but I’m pretty sure it was a long time before the Commons vote. Not much honesty there, either.

    On the whole Tony Blair has been a good Prime Minister. I for one is sorry to see him go. Britain will miss him.

    • 355.
    • At 02:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Robert Gray wrote:

    You’re summary is spot on Nick – love him or loathe him, Tony Blair will be missed. I personally, will miss him as PM.

    • 356.
    • At 02:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dominic wrote:

    Missed? Maybe, but only because Gordon Brown is going to be 10 times worse!

    Undoubtedly Blair has been a leader and statesman (or maybe a dictator) and has got some things right, I just can?t think what they are.

    More money for Public Services is true. But all the billions poured into services seem to have evaporated. Education has got worse and the country is much less safer, not just from terrorism but from our own misguided, disrespectful and over protected youth.

    Despite the economy being buoyant (apparently) there are still problems from all angles: from poor child health, law and order, to sovereignty, pensions and immigration. Oh, and the War!

    This labour government has presided over one of the worst times in our history. There is a definite feel ‘not so good’ factor. It’s not so much the War in Iraq, but what has happened at home.

    Law and Order, liberalism, waste, injustices, meddling in peoples lives, ID cards, quangos, mediocrity and spin. The creation of non-jobs for political supporters in the public sector, bloated, fat, and corrupt government. Indirect taxes are at their highest ever. The cost of living is at it’s highest for it seems ever. Soaring energy charges, spiralling council tax bills and other costs of living rising way beyond the published level of inflation! Worthless pensions, sky high tax bills, means tested benefits, no incentive for saving, increased stamp duty tax, unaffordable housing, NI tax increase, burden on businesses, red tape etc, etc.

    An Independent Bank of England. Ah now that was good. As is Northern Ireland and more money for NHS. Tax revenues have doubled but where has it all gone? You can’t tell me that we couldn’t curb some of that spending and still improve things

    But even the good bits are a little bad and the spending is just wasted because they have trust issues with the country. They have an obsession with control that comes from the roots of their belief system buried in Marxism and Stalinism. eg. Control and monitor citizens and they will keep you in power and pay high taxes. So they wrap so much red tape around everything that the system is unworkable.

    Having said all that, Blair is still the best out of a bad bunch! Where does that leave us?

    Following on from what Bob Lawson wrote earlier, other key tasks should be:
    -We need smaller government and less taxes to compete in the 21st Century
    – Spending needs to be controlled. We can spend a lot less and get a lot more results
    -Government needs to trust the people to get on with their lives and their business and encourage people to do well and prosper. In turn they will probably look after their kids better and maybe, just maybe, will help others more.
    -We need less legislation and less political correctness, it gets us nowhere and destroys progress, culture, humour and merit to name but a few
    -People need to feel free to make their own choices and not be burdened by the state
    – We need to stem the flow of migrants to a sustainable level. We can only assimilate small numbers each year.
    -Stop the EU from finally killing England and GB

    • 357.
    • At 02:15 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mohammad Ashiq wrote:

    Simply I love his personality, I’ll miss his speech.

    • 358.
    • At 02:15 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • mike mansfield wrote:

    The most common view that I have seen expressed about your analysis of Tony Blair’s term in office, is that it is fair.

    I would add the word “grudgingly”.

    For me, one of Tony Blair’s most welcome achievements was that he abolished the Lobby Correspondent.

    I predicted that he would suffer at the hands of the media, as a result of this, and he has. No previous leader has had to suffer the onslaught of 24/7 media attention, and none would have acquitted themselves with such distinction.

    No other Prime Minister, that I can recall (and I go back to Anthony Eden)
    has been belittled by the snide use of his surname [Blair this, and Blair that!]. Spiteful isn’t it, and hardly British – what?

    Much of the perception of Blair the B-liar comes not from words that he has uttered, but from the “reading between the lines” commentary, or “what he meant to say” divined by any of the numerous media Anal-ysts.

    The BBC is far from guiltless. They have taken every opportunity to bring out, to comment, every Brownite failed ex-minister and malcontent that they could lay their hands on.

    The only positive contribution that BBC News has made, to my family, is that they have cleaned up my colourful language. I now refer to any untruths, and misrepresentation, as a complete load of Horrocks.

    I hope that a sense of fair play will mean that future incumbant PMs will be treated in a similar manner.

    • 359.
    • At 02:15 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • PAUL PRESCOTT wrote:

    I can not understand why the Brits seem to be so critical of Tony Blair. I do not have the time to list the many economic and social reforms that Blair has introduced during the past 10 years. As an Aussie who visits the uk regulary i have noticed just how much things have gotten better since 1997. Blairs reforms will surely stand the test of time and once he’s gone then only will the Brits truly appreciate what they have lost. Mr Blair is welcome to come to Australia any day and hopefuylly lead the Aussie Labour party to victory. We’d love to have him as our PM.

    • 360.
    • At 02:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rod Munro wrote:

    When I sit back and reflect over the last 20 years. I can honestly say that the Tony Blair has done a fairly decent job in the last 10 years. Come on, give credit where due!! Too many people want to stab him in the back and suggest that they are right and he was wrong. We have become a selfish, opinionated unforgiving bunch of people that just wants to blame everybody else. The faults of society do not lie with Goverment, but starts at home. Good Luck TB

    • 361.
    • At 02:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Susan Chappell wrote:

    I am not sorry to see the back of Tony Blair, although he is to be thanked for his achievemnet in Northern Ireland but I am very sorry that his going will result in Gordon Brown as PM. This is a man who has sat back and said nothing as Blair led us in to a war that has left thousands of Iraqies homeless, fatherless, motherless or childless,and many families of soliders grieving, has been responsible for the pensions crisis and is overseeing an economy that is the worst place in the developed world for children to grow up in.

    I never thought that I would agree with the Liberals but I believe that there should be an election to let us decide who we want as our leader. I think it likely that the outcome would mirror that of his home country, Scotland and boot him and New Labour out of power.

    • 362.
    • At 02:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Shirley Lewis wrote:

    I think Tony Blair has in most ways been a good prime minster and it is a shame he will be remembered for Iraq and not the good things such as the peace in Ireland. I feel he has always put 100% into the job be it right or wrong.

    • 363.
    • At 02:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Butler wrote:

    Can I remind you all that Interest rates never were actually 15% ( or 17% or 18% as some have mistakenly stated ) It was raised to 15% on 17/9/92, but never actually implemented.
    As for 1000’s losing their homes, that was not the fault of the Government of the time, but can be equally shared (as now) between greedy banks and people who who took on risks with examining the possible consequences, i.e. financiial mismanagement
    Whither now our current interest rates – 5.5% as from today and further rises in the offing?

    • 364.
    • At 02:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • James T wrote:

    I’m not overly political but I remember the eighties and nineties and how the country felt, it was down, beaten and with very little prospect; ERM, every other politcian in some kind of sleaze scandal etc.
    1997 was like a big release of pressure, it was like someone said it was going to be ok; I remember going into work and people were smiling!

    Things are not perfect here, but things are definitely better. Lest we forget the record number of repossessions, the waiting lists at hospitals, schools falling apart.

    I think part of why the PM was so popular was that he was full of ambition, vibrant, he clearly expressed what he wanted without necessarily having to say it.

    Of course Iraq was not a good thing, it never is, ID cards is a bad idea, right to trial bothers me a lot.

    I can’t help think what the country would say if Iraq had gone the other way. What if it had achieved peace and accord, what if it had attained full democracy, would PM Blair have been hated as much? Probably not, but then that’s politics.

    I think the PM will be missed, but we will not know how much until he has gone.

    • 365.
    • At 02:20 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Neil Collins wrote:

    There goes a man who in 10 short years has disenfranchised the majority of pensioners by rewarding those who didn’t save and penalising those that have. A man who has left over 500,000 illegal immigrants draining our economy, where those without children are penalised in a country where more and more people are relient on benefits of some kind from the state. A man who said he would get rid of sleeze and then rewards Mandelson, Prescott, Hodge etc and still has a cash for titles investigation. Good riddance to the man who gives the Scots a parliment that can spend English money, but would never give the English a parliment of their own.

    • 366.
    • At 02:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    I am not a huge fan of Blair, but I feel that he has got too much stick. Nobody can imagine the pressure he has faced continually for 10 years (just look at how he has aged) He does indeed know things we do not about terrorism and Iraq for example and perhaps this influenced his decisions. He has done some great things and at least he has the courage to admit his wrongs aswell as his rights. Blair has led this country for 10 years and millions are in his debt. To all those who criticise some of his more controversial decisions, run for PM and face what he did for 10 years and see if you can do better. He has represented us and Britain to the best of his ability, it is a pity that for many his best just is not good enough.

    Blairs biggest problem was the party he leads. Our biggest problem is the party he leaves. Our Socialist masters probably expect to have a free reign under Brown to abuse and control us. Lets hope that Brown can be at least as successful as Blair.

    • 368.
    • At 02:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • M Hussain wrote:

    I really thought this messianic leader was the answer for GB in 1997.
    All this fool has done has made it harder for the Muslims of the uk to live peacefully with others without suspicions and doubt.
    Go to hell with all your lies and scheming master plans to achieve total power.

    • 369.
    • At 02:24 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dave – Wolverhampton wrote:

    One of the biggest impacts the “Blair Years” has had on this country can be evidenced by the appalling spelling and grammar contained in many of the comments already posted in Nick Robinson’s Newslog. EDUCATION
    Not to mention the backbiting that many of the comment makers seem to revel in which pitifully is typical of politics.
    Also, in his remaining days in office might he tell us where the missing millions went from the pensions, I think the pension credits are not even a token gesture. Good try Tone but it’s not enough, will his successor have it in themself to put it back?????????
    I fear not!!

    • 370.
    • At 02:25 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • EmmGee wrote:

    Blair was the best Labour Prime Minister we’ve had. He’s also the only kind of Labour Prime Minster we could have had after Labour lost the public trust, destroying the country in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

    Thank God Thatcher came along when she did, her reforms and moderniasations throughout the 1980’s made possible the much smaller improvements which Blair was then able to carry out over the last 10 years.

    One can only hope that Brown learns the lesson of history and doesn’t retreat further into the Old Labour past of failure, envy and penury for all.

    • 371.
    • At 02:26 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Yagalone wrote:

    Arch Political Punditry is contriving to frame the Legacy of a PM when he is still in office. The same Pundits heap the same criticism obsessively – that Tony Blair divided the Country, widely opposed to the Invasion of Iraq. One Man’s folly? Where was Her Majesty’s Opposition? Ah, we have to enter the conspiracy to discount, ignore, and obliterate from the Record the fact that it was Tory complicity that saw the Legislation through Parliament.

    So we have Wisdom AFTER the Event. I would be very happy to ignore, discount and obliterate from the Record what the Pundits and Tory Apologists, including Nick Robinson, are saying today. Even-handedness tells me that what Tories offer – David Cameron – will not materialise into anything which will make an entry on the record, let alone have it obliterated for the sake of Tory survival. Opposition was left to the then Foreign Secretary and he has received no credit for the fact.

    As for Spin, since the ‘prerogative’ for Spin is in the armoury of Journalists, if you please, we now have Nick’s Spin on the Spin that was spinning when the CURRENT Prime Minister last spun. Are you dizzy yet, Nick? It’s tough at the Top.

    • 372.
    • At 02:28 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rumy Apostolov wrote:

    The massive response so far (to Blair’s departure through the BBC, not to Nick)shows how much even the more active part of the population have to say if there is somebody to listen, or at alest trying to do so.

    So, if Labour is to win the next elections, it needs to actually take UK citizens’ views more seriously, especially the views of the professional classes, who got the worst deal under Labour without yet rejecting the Party. Gretting their votes when they will be forced to become ex-pats will be certainly more difficult.

    But many from the professional classes are leaving Britain in big numbers taking away their degrees and children. This is due to a lack of sufficient competition for good ideas, white discrimination, lack of open and honest platforms for communication in society and new levels of inequality in employment. Detached from reality, Oxbridge circles stills rule, why experts craving for the long-expected flexy working hours and result-driven working culture are still waiting for better job or overall professional protection, also for decent schools, decent health system and a better direction that will boost UK’s fairly undefined overall values system.

    What really matters to this group of voters is that they will not need to change country only because they can. The hope before next general elections is that Gordon Brown will make UK feel more part of Europe as UK does not belong anywhere else(will his Scottish roots help?), as it seems there is less greediness, more affordable housing, good education and more possibilities on the Continent.

    • 373.
    • At 02:29 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David Shallcross wrote:

    OJP? not Official John Prescott by any chance!!!!!

    • 374.
    • At 02:29 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Scott Colman wrote:

    “Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.”

    Really Mr Blair!

    Good afternoon, Good Evening and Good Riddance….

    Next!

    • 375.
    • At 02:31 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • smaher wrote:

    How quickly people forget the shambles the country was in before Blair and Labour came to power. A government in crisis, a collapsed economy, the NHS close to breaking, school’s falling apart and less and less people willing to work for their country or volunteer to do something in their community. A country that was that was ridiculed in Europe and tolerated by the rest of the world. A grey country, lacking in inspiration or aspiration.
    New Labour and Mr. Blair have changed all that and acted like statesman while they were doing it. This is a more inclusive society, where thousands of people willingly volunteer to help in some way in their local communities. Schools fit for the 21st century, where children feel inspired to learn by great teachers and with great facilities. An NHS with waiting times cut and huge investment. More police on the streets. A booming economy. A country that is the envy of every other country in Europe, if not the world.

    I am proud of the last 10 years. Proud and lucky to be alive in Britain during this time and hope sincerely that Brown continues the good work and that Cameron is brushed aside and seen as the charlatan he really is.

    Our country is not perfect, probably never will be, but at least the country now has the drive, determition and inspiration to keep it moving in the right direction.

    Thanks Mr. Blair and good luck in whatever you choose to do next.

    • 376.
    • At 02:32 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ali wrote:

    Sadly, history will only remember Tony Blair for one thing, Iraq – It is the eternal mistake that will stand the test of time.

    Starting that never ending Iraq war was the biggest mistake made this Prime Minister or indeed any Prime Minister or indeed any leader of the free world past or present.

    thats why it is the eternal mistake that will stand the test of time.

    • 377.
    • At 02:35 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rumy Apostolov wrote:

    The massive response so far (to Blair’s departure through the BBC, not to Nick)shows how much even the more active part of the population have to say if there is somebody to listen, or at alest trying to do so.

    So, if Labour is to win the next elections, it needs to actually take UK citizens’ views more seriously, especially the views of the professional classes, who got the worst deal under Labour without yet rejecting the Party. Gretting their votes when they will be forced to become ex-pats will be certainly more difficult.

    But many from the professional classes are leaving Britain in big numbers taking away their degrees and children. This is due to a lack of sufficient competition for good ideas, white discrimination, lack of open and honest platforms for communication in society and new levels of inequality in employment. Detached from reality, Oxbridge circles stills rule, why experts craving for the long-expected flexy working hours and result-driven working culture are still waiting for better job or overall professional protection, also for decent schools, decent health system and a better direction that will boost UK’s fairly undefined overall values system.

    What really matters to this group of voters is that they will not need to change country only because they can. The hope before next general elections is that Gordon Brown will make UK feel more part of Europe as UK does not belong anywhere else(will his Scottish roots help?), as it seems there is less greediness, more affordable housing, good education and more possibilities on the Continent.

    • 378.
    • At 02:35 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ali wrote:

    Sadly, history will only remember Tony Blair for one thing, Iraq – It is the eternal mistake that will stand the test of time.

    Starting that never ending Iraq war was the biggest mistake made this Prime Minister or indeed any Prime Minister or indeed any leader of the free world past or present.

    Thats why it is the eternal mistake that will stand the test of time.

    • 379.
    • At 02:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jeremy wrote:

    To those people who say other leaders would not have behaved differently over Iraq – NOT TRUE!!

    Very few politicians other than Blair and a few right-wingers in the Conservative Party (such as IDS) supported the decision – the Lib Dems and all the Nationalist partiers opposed it, many Labour supporters and indeed a significant number of Tory supporters warned of the disastrous consequences. Even Mrs Thatcher had misgivings – there certainly wouldn’t have been the blank cheque that Blair gave Bush – remember Grenada, when Thatcher refused to support Reagan’s invasion.

    There is no reason to believe that any other Prime Minister in recent history (apart from possibly the idiotic Eden) would have supported it and agreed to send British troops.

    • 380.
    • At 02:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steve Newton wrote:

    OK, I agree with most of Nick Robinsons piece but, to hang the Dome around Blair’s neck is a bit unfair afterall, it was the Consevative government that did the deal on this. Blair had to carry it forward. There’s absolutely no doubt that he has been good for Britain and Europe but, the ‘I’ word will unfortunately, in most peoples eyes, be his unwanted legacy not the good stuff he’s done.

    • 381.
    • At 02:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew wrote:

    Well, having read quite a lot of these comments and had a good chuckle at some of the views, wit and cutting coments to what felt like a balanced appraisal, it reminds me of the essence of what it means to live in a democracy. As ever, there is a wide range of views and it is difficult at this point to assess how history may judge Blair’s contribution. Whatever way we look at this I would say 1. let’s be thankful we what we have in Britain (it is good and can be better), 2. be more grateful for our political leadership for doing what is a difficult task and 3. recognise that it is within each of us too, to make the lasting difference in our lives and in the lives of others’.

    • 382.
    • At 02:39 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Lee wrote:

    Nick,

    I think overall your comments are fair.

    Tony Blair has made some mistakes who hasn’t but overall this country should thank him for the contribution he has made especially the introduction of the minimum wage which the tories would never have introduced.

    In my humble opinion the biggest mistake will always be immigration which I beleive has gotten out of control.

    The problem that Tony Blair faced was 18 years of Tory rule and the first 5 years were spent trying to make up for all of the Tory years of grinding the NHS into the ground. The second 5 years didn’t quite live up to the high expectations in 1997.

    I shudder to think what David Cameron will do if he became PM. Its difficult to say at this moment in time as we have not seen a Tory policy since Mr Cameron became leader. Do they actually exist or are they like ghosts…you think you might have seen one but you need proof first….I won’t hold my breath!

    • 383.
    • At 02:39 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mike wrote:

    PROSPERITY , GROWTH , LOW UNEMPLOYMENT , HELP FOR FAMILIES , DEVOLVED GOVERNMENT…A GREAT TONY BLAIR LEGACY

    LEAVE HIM ALONE , EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE HAS CHANGED FOR THE BETTER UNDER TONY BLAIR…

    • 384.
    • At 02:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Barry Ewart wrote:

    Blair did some good things: minimum wage, winter payments for seniors, more spending on schools and the NHS (though some of this through PFI which we’ll be paying for, for years); Kosovo, N.Ireland but his policy on Irag (devised by the US neo-cons) has been a total disaster and has aided the reactionary forces in Islam as opposed to the progressive forces. Tragically we are now ‘trapped’ in this policy until it seems Iraq can police itself. In the eyes of the powerful it could be argued that Blair’s greatest achievement has been to emasculate the left and trades unions – the wealthy have been laughing all the way to the bank whilst to some extent Labour has disconnected from its traditional supporters and inequalities have grown. There now appears to be more anti-social behaviour in society and there is a small but nasty underbelly (a consequence of rampant individualism?) and to some extent there has been a break down in communities. The question is can Gordon Brown re-engage with Labour’s grassroots (for example by allowing council’s to keep money from council house sales to build new council homes in consultation with local tenants/community groups) and rebuild a sense of community? Can Brown get us out of the Iraq mess in an honourable way and also concentate on helping to solve the Palestinian crisis and thus aid world peace and the progressive forces in Islam? Can Brown enable people to rule instead of markets (multi-nationals/large corporations really)? In the absence of a genuinely progressive alternative and with a heavy heart I vote Labour for the “one inch of difference”; in conclusion one cheer for Blair out of three!

    • 385.
    • At 02:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mel R wrote:

    Blair’s speech was quite extraordinary. Well delivered, the right amount of self-deprecation, dignified. Compare it to Thatcher’s exit to realise how good a politician Blair is and has been.

    My life and that of my family has improved dramatically in the past 10 years. I am grateful to Blair for that. Iraq was tough. I was in favour and have changed my mind – the prerogative of a citizen but the curse of a PM. He did what he belived to be right and for that deserves respect.

    • 386.
    • At 02:42 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rich wrote:

    With Britain getting ever richer people have become greedy, impatient, and materialistic.

    Tony Blair has tried his best to help the poorer people in this country.

    Would the tories have risen the minimun wage? NO

    It was great to see Fox Hunting banned.

    Did the tories want to ban Fox Hunting? NO

    The Middle and Working classes are still well divided in this country today but there is more help now for Britains poor then there ever was under the tories.

    Opinions will always be divided with different classes but I say to the wealthy middle classes and upper classes, what would you understand about Miners strikes and whole working communities swept away by Thatcher? Exactly nothing.

    • 387.
    • At 02:42 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tom Elliott wrote:

    How pathetic and uneducated the Iraq war protestors are. The summary from Nick R is fair to include Kosova and Sierra Leone and the lives that have been saved there. Iraq is not perfect and we will have to wait years before we find out what was presented to Blair (and the Tories). Saying he had a blood lust is unfair and ridiculous. He had no need to support the US led action, he was dozens of points ahead in the polls of a fractured Conservative party and had a majority in excess of 100 seats. He had no need to take us to war, unlike Maggie in the Falklands. Still not heard a single policy from the doomsayers on Iraq – apart from wait and allow hundreds of thousands to die under Saddam!

    Blair has introduced so many great things from the minimum wage to massive public investment.
    Because the economy has been so good over the last ten years people are desperate to find something to criticize him over. He will be sorely missed and the allegations over spin are purely because they were so good at it compared to the rest. Who would not want to promote your achievements well – that’s Spin

    • 388.
    • At 02:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • JR wrote:

    A great showman but at the end of the day interested mostly in himself

    One of his enduring legacies will surely be the emergence of a Much more Authoritarian less democratic state than we have ever previously seen consider some changes

    20% of the worlds CCTV cameras for less than 1% of the population

    the worlds biggest DNA database containing the details of 4million people including those arrested but not charged or convicted of an offence

    ID cards which will be compulsory from 2008 and require the whole population to submit unprecedented amounts of data together with biometric details of the whole population

    ASBOS and control orders These allow someone not convicted of any crime to be punished for doing things not against the law. These allow hearsay and secret evidence to be taken into account which cannot be seen or challenged in court in the long run they are a fundamental threat to the rule of law

    Powers for all manner of officials t enter your home refusal often on pain of criminal penalties if you refuse

    Unprecedented police powers in the name of the war on terror, Including the power for chief constables to declare an emergency area giving them powers to arrest anyone without casue without announcing they have done so

    Banning demonstrations without police permission within a mile of parliament

    a new criminal offence created for every 3 days in office

    The government also misses no opportunity to ratchet up the level of fear of terrorism and always uses this as an excuse to justify more powers. A classic police state tactic is to use the fear of outsiders to justify repression

    In short many of the tools for a police state have been put in place should someone choose to use them

    Consider also he state of democratic accountability. one reason The Iraq war will be remebered is the fact that the main parties chose to ignore widespread opposition and vote for war. This in my view could be a watershead moment since if MPs dont listen to the people they claim to represent over the most important action a government can do when will they ever listen to any opinion that they dont want to hear?
    Much of these changes will have more impact on the society we are than anything he states as his legacy

    • 389.
    • At 02:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Stewart MacKenzie wrote:

    In the short term, the thing TB will be most associated with will be Iraq. Ironically, the same thing that any PM of the period would be associated with whether Tory, Labour or Lib/Dem – yes, let’s not kid ourselves that anyone (Dennis Skinner apart) would have done any differently. Yet despite his support of the US in Iraq it is TB who put a stop to the UK becoming a model US state which is where it was heading under the Tories. They have always had the power of the large corporations and finance houses at the root of their policy. TB has ensured that the relentless “progress” of capitalism and moral fundamentalism has been halted, in this country at least, for the moment. Those of the left who so dislike him would do well to remember that it was his social democratic model that the UK voted for and still admire, not “the workers” or “the red flag”. As for DC being his successor, I think not – the Tories are still the party of corporations and money – they never were the friend of small business, never of the “ordinary man”, just of the people we most loathe in our society now and which thanks to the MT years will always be with us – those in it for what they can get – when they can get it and damn society if it gets in the way.

    • 390.
    • At 02:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jan Mathieson wrote:

    I would like to thank Mr Blair, people are to quick to critisise, I could afford to move house under his goverment and pay my mortgage, and I think he has been very good to pensioners.
    From a Scottish Point Of View god help us if the SNP get there way.

    As far as Iraq is concerned , I honestly think he did what he thought was right.

    • 391.
    • At 02:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nigel wrote:

    I have just listened with incredulity to Nick’s radio piece for World at One, which was nothing like as measured as his blog entry above.

    I believe I heard him credit Blair with restoring trust in the Labour party – and I did not detect a note of sarcasm!

    I then heard him state, quite definitively, that Britain was now a more liberal country than in 1997.

    Come on Nick, we expect better from the BBC – Blair has almost single-handedly destroyed trust in politicians, in government, and in our democratic institutions. We now live in a society where I could be arrested for having the temerity to hold a placard outside parliament, where 3000 new offences have been created, where our government condones the use of torture, where peerages and other public positions can be bought and sold.

    Sad to say, my first thought on listening to your fawning assessment was to wonder where to look for your name in the next honours list.

    • 392.
    • At 02:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • ChrisJCD wrote:

    I do not believe people are being fickle about wanting shot of Blair s OJP beleives. There is no need for people to stand up for him relating his govenment to that of the old Tory sleaze. I want him out purely based on his time in office over the last ten years, it has nothing to do with past governments and nor should it be compared with the past. Each government should be judged on its own merits!! Omn that basis, good riddance!!

    • 393.
    • At 02:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jan Mathieson wrote:

    I would like to thank Mr Blair, people are to quick to critisise, I could afford to move house under his goverment and pay my mortgage, and I think he has been very good to pensioners.
    From a Scottish Point Of View god help us if the SNP get there way.

    As far as Iraq is concerned , I honestly think he did what he thought was right.

    • 394.
    • At 02:50 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter wrote:

    Missed, yes like a bad smell.

    • 395.
    • At 02:50 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Danny Meadows wrote:

    I have many memories of Tony Blair in his early days as a politician and being very confused when reading that this man was tipped to being a PM one day. However, having witnessed the last 10 years both in the UK and abroad I have been won over and now readily admit that he was and is the man for the job. It is an extremly difficult job, the most difficult in the land but he has shown courage, humility, humour and intelligence throughout his term of office as PM. We can ask for no more. Take a well deserved rest Mr Blair and thank you.

    • 396.
    • At 02:51 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • jason c bell wrote:

    We should be thankful for those in public office. They sacrifice much. May God Bless Tony and his family.

    • 397.
    • At 02:51 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Srikanth wrote:

    One of the best ever post-war British prime ministers. He brought new ideas and vigor to British politics, and showed that new politics of ideals could work. His biggest mistake is Iraq, but he also took similar decision with regard to Bosnia and he was dead right then, but on Iraq, he lost his marbles.
    The easiest thing in the world is to just sit back, criticise and be cynical, doing nothing to change the society we live in and despise those who try to. Blair tried his best to beat this habit out of the British society. He will be missed, not now, but a few years after he is gone.

    Srikanth, Bath

    • 398.
    • At 02:52 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Iain Buchanan wrote:

    Iraq is not a dissapointment it is a travesty 100,000’s are dead because of this man an the world is not any safer

    Thank you Tony Blair…

    You have truly and positively changed our nation… After so many years of neglect and deliberate undermining from the Tories our public services and general living standards are now so much better.

    I also think Nick’s comments are reasonable and fair… you are right to be proud of many achievements at home and abroad.

    I hope we also remember that before the Iraq invasion despite some reservations the vast majority of us thought it was the right course of action.

    I can understand the attacks from the right, it is what I expect, but surely those on the left should remember the many years under the Tory government… or maybe that is what they are hoping for…

    Finally I also want to thank you on a personal level… you have achieved all this while also being a loving father and husband… I wish you and your family a happy and sucesful future.

    • 400.
    • At 02:55 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • S Hasan wrote:

    It is unfair to judge Blair in one word or sentence. There were things he got right & things he did not. It is the end of an era & the future is David Cameron.
    His legacy will be that of a successful PM. The mere fact that he won thrice at the ballot box speaks volumes. The power sharing in Northern Ireland, which most of the commentators ignore is a major success in itself. With the NHS, there were too many initiatives, so many that it left the work force bewildered & wondering what was accepted of them.
    He may have antagonised a lot of voters with the ntervention in Iraq but we should not look away from Kosovo.
    One thing that surprises me is that at no point did the opposition offer a creditable alternative, both peron or policy. That certainly worked to Mr Blairs advantage.

    • 401.
    • At 02:57 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tony wrote:

    I am so sorry Tony Blair is leaving. He was an excellent leader. I can hear and feel people squirming… but hey could you do half of whathe’s done? He believed in Iraq and was incorrect – should we forever chastise him for that???!!!
    There are numerous other good and excellent things he did for the country. The economy is booming.
    Show some gratitude!

    • 402.
    • At 02:57 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Charlie Marley wrote:

    Near the beginning of his time in power Mr Blair was publicly asked a question, essentially: ‘What would the man you were 20 years ago think of the man you are today?’

    On the day of announcing his retirement, I would like to know how Mr Blair would answer: ‘What would the man you were 10 years ago think of the man you are today?’

    • 403.
    • At 02:58 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard Chinula wrote:

    I will miss Tony Blair. He is a good leader, an excellent public speaker and he is not afraid to be counted when it matters. He has the courage to make decisions in very difficult circmstances. Remember this “I was elected not just to listen but to lead also”, in response to accusations that he was not listening to people that put him in office. He also likes to help the underpreviledged, especially in Africa. I wish him the very best in his retirement.

    • 404.
    • At 02:59 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Matthew Duckworth wrote:

    Tony Blair got into power by abolishing the Labour Party, and once in office, some of his policies were more Tory than the Tories, e.g. student loans and fees. Ultimately, his legacy is ten wasted years, and we now have the added danger that the Tories, in embracing the ineffective “consensus” to achieve power, will really offer nothing better, when what the country needs so badly is some radical policies to restore our economic competitiveness and generate the wealth needed to improve everybody’s lot.

    • 405.
    • At 03:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard wrote:

    He is annoying, ego-centric and self opinionated. I will be the first to cheer when he goes. But I fear we are stuck with Nick Robinson for some time yet.

    • 406.
    • At 03:01 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    Tony Blair was, and I quote, the worst Leader of the Labour Party and the worst Prime Minister this country has ever seen.

    Who was it that said that? No not a Tory………but, Tam Dalyell, one time Labour MP for West Lothian.

    Finally, take no note of what anyone from the Blair Broadcasting Corporation spins about Blair…that is what the Labour Party pays them for.

    • 407.
    • At 03:01 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • David B. wrote:

    At last Bush’s lapdog has announced he will stand down as PM on June 27th. This is one household where Blair will definitely not be missed and to make matters worse we have the characterless Brown to follow. TB’s achievments are offset by sleaze, reduction in family values and respect, illiteracy in schools, the tax burden, the appalling immigration policy and of course – the disaster that is Iraq. When he became PM I hoped we had a breath of fresh air but soon realised that here we had just another politician out to feather his own nest.

    Those that say he was not pushed out of office are living in cloud cuckoo land. It may not have occurred in the same manner as Thatcher, he just realised 952 days ago that the knives were out and his days were numbered. So it’s goodbye to Blair, the awful Prescott and some of their cronies – Tony Who ?

    • 408.
    • At 03:02 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • carol wrote:

    no choice but to keep the Tories out; there never has been! I at least have a good memory. As to Gordon’s dour expression, he’s not in a soap; as much as the media would like to reduce the business of government to one. I fail to see what difference facial grimaces make to doing one’s job. I don’t have anything I want to say about Tony other than to reiterate that there was no choice after John Smith died on us.

    • 409.
    • At 03:02 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Salar Bapir wrote:

    You are really going to be missed. Perhaps few more generation will realise how courageous you were. If the British people want to feel proud their PM ever fought a “just” war, it must be you! As an Iraqi Kurd, I salute you sir, perhaps my grand children will know how your brave determination has changed the course of Middle East history to better.

    • 410.
    • At 03:04 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alan wrote:

    I remember before Tony Blair. Interest rates 15% massive unemployment, no hope, no future, no choice, no life. I never voted for him or for labour but there is no doubt this country is in a far better position 10 years later. We quibble over interest rates of less than 6%, there has never been such growth of new and varied businesses, we argue over the choices ( or the varied amount of choice) we now have and have so much money we are over eating ourselves to an early grave. There are so many career opportunities people from other countries want to live and work here. There was so much optimism when Tony took office there was no way he could deliver all that people wanted. Tony�s not perfect, no-one could be, but he was a million times better than any other alternative around. Tony was the right man, at the right time.

    • 411.
    • At 03:05 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jonathan wrote:

    “The cost to Iraq is still being counted.”

    I hope you mean the cost of 24 years of totalitarian dictatorship. The long-term cost of the recent regime change to Iraq is not knowable at this stage – and nor are the benefits.

    Blair’s mistake over Iraq was going in without a long-term plan. Pulling out without a long-term plan would be just as misguided.

    • 412.
    • At 03:05 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • stephen wrote:
    Mr Blair has really done a tremendous job,both for his country and other people like foreighners like me. when a’m in U.k, i really feel the same as if a’m in my country of origin(Rwanda).Talk of equal treatment,abality to feel confidence in your self,and where else could i have got them rather than under Mr Blair’a primiership. dont get me wrong, we never used (most foreighners)to have such an increadible treatment before he (Mr Blair)came into the office 1997. He has and still remains a classimatic leader we have ever seen in today’s modern politics the world has ever seen.We love you but we shall sadly miss you but good luck.

    • 413.
    • At 03:07 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Fred Steele wrote:

    It’s pretty clear from some of the posts that some do not have a clue what they say for most is wrong !
    Prior to the Iraq War both British and US intelligence documented hundreds (Yes, hundreds) of what THEY described as WMD sites. Had Bush and Blair failed to act, and Irsael had been bombed, those who now say he was wrong would STILL be saying he was wrong, but for a different reason !
    How sick I am at comments of how wonderful Thatcher was, this country was in so much debt towards the end of her reign that she NEEDED to sell off State owned industry to help get her out of the Cr** !

    • 414.
    • At 03:07 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • tim arnold wrote:

    Nick – I think it was Thatcher who actually changed the Labour party. That is her lasting legacy. Blair was just her poodle… er, sorry, I mean, agent of change. So in fact he was one of the most successful Tory prime minsters ever.

    Tim Arnold
    Slough

    • 415.
    • At 03:08 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Philip Curtis wrote:

    I agree with Nick Robinson save for the iraq war. No one could have predicted what would be happening in Iraq now.

    Blair ensured the capture and ultimate torture of Saddam Hussain and has received so little credit for it. The BBC are and have been from day one biased against the Iraq war for some unknown reason. They have rarely asked anyone in support of it to talk about it.

    My concern is who will be next and the huge tax increases imposed shrewdly but unfairly on the middle classes by Gordon Brown but which could cause recession when combined with the ever rising interest rates.

    Time for the Tories to have another go I expect.

    • 416.
    • At 03:08 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jamie wrote:

    Criticism is easy, being prime minister isn’t.

    • 417.
    • At 03:09 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Martin Johnson wrote:

    What a heart-warming speech. So interesting also to see Tony’s been leading “the greatest nation on earth”. Does George W know? Also, that in Iraq he’s been shoulder to shoulder with “our oldest ally”. I didn’t know that Portugal had been involved in that debacle too! Let’s hope Tony’s grasp on the future is better than his grasp of the past or present. I’m sure it is, after all, the £3.5 million house in Mayfair has to be paid for somehow!

    • 418.
    • At 03:10 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Lara Aziz wrote:

    I’ll tell you a story about me and Tony Blair. A year ago next week, I married my girlfriend in London. In my speech to party guests afterwards, I (half-sincerely) thanked Tony Blair for making it possible. There were cries of derision at the mention of his name from assembled friends and family members because of the mess in Iraq, and because it has become something of a national sport to mock him, especially since he signalled his own demise far too early. This wedding incident I just described, sums up perfectly his position in the British psyche. We find it hard to forgive him for his perceived mistakes and arrogance, despite the huge national change he has presided over and helped bring about. We do indeed have him to thank for making my wedding day possible, along with a whole raft of other bold equality legislation, which has prompted a shift in public opinion and even (ostensibly) forced the Tories to change their attitudes to boot! No mean feat. Ten years ago, I would have felt uneasy about holding hands with my partner in the street in many areas. Now, I don’t think twice. And here’s a thing: I was brought up on a rough council estate in Thatcher’s Britain. It was hard to feel as if you, as an individual could make something of yourself, as the Conservatives espoused was possible for all sections of society. I was unemployed or on second-rate training schemes for 4 years. In Blair’s Britain, I have flourished and felt at ease with myself and never second best. I got a PhD as a mature student, and now I earn more than my parents could ever have dreamed I would earn. I suppose you could say that Blairism has changed my life. I have to work on my parents though – my Labour-voting mother said yesterday “I do like that David Cameron”. And that is precisely why the next general election battle will be a corker, and why we’ll go on arguing about Blair’s legacy for most of the rest of our lifetimes.

    • 419.
    • At 03:11 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Neil wrote:

    The phrase “You reap what you sew” is something that springs into my mind when it comes to the Blair years. When he came into power he came riding the waves of the strength that was built before him. Whilst I am a labour voter I cannot see anything that Blair has managed to achieve from start to finish since he came into power. He simply finished tasks that were already started by the previous governments before his.

    The problem is, he did actually manage to sew his own seeds – many of which are endangering our way of life and our independance as a nation. I feel sorry for Gordon Brown who now has to reap in those bad seeds and I feel he faces an impossible task, which will likely result in him becoming a forgotten man come the next General Election which I feel the Conservatives will undoubtedly win.

    • 420.
    • At 03:12 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • mateo wrote:

    I believe we all are entitled of our comments. No matter how different they are. That is the essence of debate. I first saw T. Blair on BBC’s “Hard Talk” show. His intelligence, charisma, and the way of interpretting things, stunned me. The fact is that he came around in ’94 and a new political era had surfaced in Britain. Probably something never seen before. Someone who understands politics would agree with the fact, that the way he (T Blair) interpretted politics was unreacheable and magnificent. A great communicater. In my view he was, and, if I ma say so and will remain the finest of his genaration. For one thing he killed the tories off, and they must be cheering themselfs up, that he is leaving office. Economically Britain has never been better not in the last 45 years, extra billions of money puoring into public sevices. The war in Iraq wasn’t orchestrated, directed nor started by him. It was all an American neo-cons call, and opera. No one in his position, in British politics would refuse to go to war if it has been asked by the americans. He was smart enough to understand that. Probably time will show that this war will hunt him for the rest of his life, but if tables are turned around in Irak what would the critics say than. They would all agree that this guy made revolution in Labur party and British politics. That he put Britain back in the world map in 21’st centery.

    • 421.
    • At 03:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Emma wrote:

    The Labour party trolls are out in force today. What outrage at the criticims of their dear leader, who has had a direct hand in making the world (and particularly Britain) a less safe place to live.

    Well I know the truth about Blair, however much you manage to deceive yourselves in your Westminster bubble.

    I have less money in my pocket and pay more taxes. I feel less safe on the streets and I worry about the future we are handing to the already debt-laden kids. Climate change? What about a zero energy policy for the UK which means we will be royally buggered when energy prices start to rocket.

    Oh yes, Blair’s is a brilliant legacy for the haves, a terrible one for the have-nots, particularly the tens of thousands of dead children of Iraq.

    Anyone who claims Iraq is a blip should be thoroughly ashamed at how little they value the lives of innocent people. How dare people say it was a “tough call” or “noone could have known”! Blair was explicity warned by the military about a civil war – no get-out clause there. Like Bush he didn’t care.

    It was his usual arrogance that has cost so many people their lives. And how shameful it is that so many people excuse this inexcusable policy – for which he has NEVER apologised.

    • 422.
    • At 03:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • fred sheldon wrote:

    An hour of Blair on WATO and heaven knows how long on TV. Why dance attendance on this selfregarding PM?

    In the words of Clement Attlee, I say to the newsmedia “A period of silence from you would be welcome.”

    • 423.
    • At 03:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Emma wrote:

    The Labour party trolls are out in force today. What outrage at the criticims of their dear leader, who has had a direct hand in making the world (and particularly Britain) a less safe place to live.

    Well I know the truth about Blair, however much you manage to deceive yourselves in your Westminster bubble.

    I have less money in my pocket and pay more taxes. I feel less safe on the streets and I worry about the future we are handing to the already debt-laden kids. Climate change? What about a zero energy policy for the UK which means we will be royally buggered when energy prices start to rocket.

    Oh yes, Blair’s is a brilliant legacy for the haves, a terrible one for the have-nots, particularly the tens of thousands of dead children of Iraq.

    Anyone who claims Iraq is a blip should be thoroughly ashamed at how little they value the lives of innocent people. How dare people say it was a “tough call” or “noone could have known”! Blair was explicity warned by the military about a civil war – no get-out clause there. Like Bush he didn’t care.

    It was his usual arrogance that has cost so many people their lives. And how shameful it is that so many people excuse this inexcusable policy – for which he has NEVER apologised.

    • 424.
    • At 03:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • S Holdway wrote:

    To be honest I do not take a very keen interest in politics. But one thing I would like to point out is that from the countryside/farming point of view I feel he has done very little for this country. There are thousands of acres of good English land going to waste here, enough land to make this country all but self sufficient in food and milk, but what has happened. Farmers have been priced out of their livelihoods in preference for the cheaper European equivalents. He has taken steps to make this country a playground for the rich with the legacy of the good honest workers from the past being ground into the dust

    • 425.
    • At 03:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Darren Stephens wrote:

    OK, most of what you said was about right to at least some degree but I’d like to add just two things:

    Introdcing student top-up fees, after making a manifesto committment that they would not do it. You can call this many things, but I would call it a flat out lie.

    And finally, nothing becomes Blair as the manner of his departure. As he was standing up to speak in Trimdon the Home Office were telling us that ID cards were going to cost at least �5bn.

    A good day to bury bad news, huh?

    • 426.
    • At 03:15 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris T wrote:

    What an awful lot of revisionism going on in here.

    He has been a monumentally unpopular leader on both sides of the political spectrum, who would not have made it to ten years were it not for a pathetically weak Tory opposition.

    The fact that he has managed to carry out some long-overdue social reforms, should not blind us to the litany of scandal, incompetence and corruption that has characterised so much of this goverment’s efforts in the last ten years. the era of “personality politics” has massively eroded our faith in parliament and democracy and personally i think the promotion of faith schools as an answer to educational shortcomings will be a mistake we may all live to regret.

    politics is a place for convictions and compromise – tony’s blind “belief” that he was doing the right thing has lead to hundreds of thousands of death. let’s hope Gordon proves to be a little more rational.

    • 427.
    • At 03:17 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul D wrote:

    Smile? Shouldn’t that be smirk? He got away with it (well almost)!

    • 428.
    • At 03:17 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Abdullai wrote:

    I agree with the fact that through him and American President Klinton -Kosova was liberated by the mega-evil Russian-Serbian regjime.
    But the history, the world and the hereafter will punish him extremly severely for the hipocritical game of weapons of miss-destruction.

    • 429.
    • At 03:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ben Skinner wrote:

    Tony Blair is the most honest, genuine, and vital Prime Minister we have ever had.

    It amazes me how the same people who wept with joy when he walked down Downing Street in 1997 are now rejoicing at his departure.

    OK, so going into Iraq and joining the War on Terror isnt agreeable to most of us – but there isn’t a Prime Minister since WWII who would have done any different. The U.S. didnt come across the Atlantic and bale us out for nothing after all did they.

    The people of Britain should never for get just how bad things were under the Tories, and how this fresh-faced, honest, idealistic, and frankly brilliant politician has turned this country around.

    Tony Blair, you should be very, very proud of yourself. You are a good man.

    • 430.
    • At 03:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul wrote:

    Tony Blair�s time in government can be summed up with one event. Not the Iraq war, collapse of Pensions, Cash for Peerages, lies, spin, incompetence or the like. But an 83 year old life-long Labour supporter humiliated, dragged out of a party conference then arrested under anti-terrorism laws for shouting �rubbish� at cabernet ministers speech.
    This says it all. No other Government in British history has despised, disgraced, held in contempt and bullied its own people as much as Blair and his vicious toadies.

    • 431.
    • At 03:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Damian Cullinane wrote:

    Hi Nick, The only thing i can summon up feelings for at Blair leaving, is why in God’s name did i ( and millions of others) vote for him in 1997!!! The last 10 years are a bit like that scene in Dallas where Bobby Ewing emerged from the shower, and all that had happened for a year or so in the show, was supposed to have been a dream! Well,10 years of TB ( now that’s appropriate somehow! ) have left me thinking that his departure is the end of a nightmare…..except Gordon Brown follows! None of the major parties, Labour/Tory/Lib Dem, in anyway relate to the aspirations of the people of Britain anymore. And evidence of that is clear in the pounding that the Welsh and Scots gave Labour, and others, last week!

    Regards,

    DC.

    • 432.
    • At 03:20 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard wrote:

    Sure, an awful lot has improved since Blair and his team came to power, but he did inherit the stirrings of change, a pretty robust economy plus a great many policies from the Conservatives. However, for what we as voters misguidedly thought was an incoming left-of-centre government, Blair’s lot pretty swiftly staked out the centre-right. Just an example: as Tory Home Secretary, Michael Howard never came close to privatising the prison service, it was simply a topic that was too hot to handle. And yet, here we are, with any number of public services semi or wholly privatised. As for the country being more “liberal”? A few long overdue rights established for among others, gays and lesbians, but set against that is the monumental raft of all-encompassing anti-terror legislation, the rampant expansion of our surveillance society, the latest visible manifestation of which is the talking CCTV camera, not to mention the central databases for the NHS, the DVLA,the introduction of ID cards by a government with an utterly woeful record of setting up IT systems to deal with any government business (viz:Home Office immigration….), the provisions of the Mental Health Act to detain people even before they are deemed a danger to society. In the 10 years of Blair’s New Labour regime, over 3000 new laws have been passed. That is almost one a day. Liberal? Last year the information commissioner warned that Britain had already become a surveillance society.We have been sleepwalking into a prototype modern totalitarian state, distracted by a relatively strong economy, albeit one where the nation’s wealth has been built on stratospheric levels of debt, now made more painful for many thanks to today’s rate rise. One strand of the legacy that Blair will leave is the gap between rich and poor: it is now bigger than it was when he came to power. The singularly tragic thing is that after the Tories, Blair had the chance through a massive mandate (low voter turnout notwithstanding…) to be truly groundbreaking and radical: to guide Britain to a position of standing tall among European nations as a progressive and enlightened country. Instead he climbed into bed with the most reactionary American president in history, wholeheartedly embracing the neo-conservative global agenda which has left Britain hated by a great many countries across the world. The Northern Ireland peace deal was agreed on Blair’s watch, but the folly of Iraq, the missing WMDs and the tragic and sordid David Kelly affair may well be the main legacies of the Blair years that history recalls.

    • 433.
    • At 03:22 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • DaveB wrote:

    Nick, sometimes I wonder which planet people have been on. Blair should be sent to The Hague (no, not him!) to answer for crimes against the Iraqi people. It’s quite odd that people think that 7/7 defines their lives when 7/7 happens just about everyday in Iraq.

    • 434.
    • At 03:22 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rich W wrote:

    What a terrible waste of a position of power. To think of the good that could have been done by a greater person in the same position 10 years ago.
    Good riddance.

    • 435.
    • At 03:22 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • john upex wrote:

    It is no accident that June 27th is immediately after the EU meeting where “the mini-treaty” (or the revived European Constitution) will be signed.
    This mini-treaty will not have to be out to a referendum.
    Blair’s “Last Act” will be to sell-out (give away) this country to the Europeans – his Last Act – and ever-lasting legacy – will be Treason.
    He should either be made to step down before doing this – or be arrested (as a Private Citizen, no longer enjoying Diplomatic Immunity)on his return.
    John Upex

    • 436.
    • At 03:24 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Aitken wrote:

    Good riddance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 437.
    • At 03:24 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jim Currie wrote:

    Come off it! Our Tony has always been in control – always will be. The ultimate alchemist who changed Labour into Tory was, is and always will be a control freek. He will already have concocted his (not to be moved)ten year plan. be assured whatever happens to us mere mortals – Tony will always come-up smelling of roses and diamond studded to boot.

    What a lot of old Hollywood-style cod’s wallop!

    Sailorjim.

    I will actually miss Mr Blair as Prime Minister. Don’t like all his party’s politics and don’t care much for the spin and hype.
    I actually believe HE does care which means something these days doesn’t it?
    A very hard act to follow in my humble opinion. There is no one around even close to measure up to the leadership qualities of the man in ANY political party!

    • 439.
    • At 03:25 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • H.Dyzi wrote:

    Maybe average Jim Smith living in UK would be happy to see his back or maybe not but 2 million Albanians in Kosova every God given day say: Thank you Tony Blair. He is guaranteed a very prominent place in Kosovars harts and their history forever.

    • 440.
    • At 03:26 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • George A wrote:

    Nick

    The last time I looked across the college green, there were still two governing houses that make this democracy probably one of the safest and better accountable. That much of the debate in the last ten years has shited to a single personality, will certainly be Blair’s greatest legacy.

    • 441.
    • At 03:28 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Carol Gumble wrote:

    Excuse me but while all the political journalists are busy adoring Blair and giving all the air time to the labour propoganda, have you not noticed that the streets are not packed with his adoring public waving him goodbye.
    Most of us in the REAL world are having to live with the consequences of Blair’s failed policies and after having watched your footage today of all the pomp and ceremony the BBC have afforded him and the labour party, most of us are passing each other the sick bucket.
    But then again it is Blairs Broadcasting Company.
    Good Riddance to him and his money grabbing wife.

    From

    Carol

    • 442.
    • At 03:32 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ariel wrote:

    Will miss Tony! Clearly remember when he was in China, he played football at local sports centre, visited local companies and I remember I waved to him and to my surprise,in such a long distance he waved and smiled back to me, he was very friendly, the first time I felt he is a person, not just a prime minister.And yes, he is a man, just like the rest of us.

    • 443.
    • At 03:33 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nilesh wrote:

    Hello, First of all hats off to Mr Blair. I’m from Bombay,India & I’ve been in England for nearly 5 years now. Since then Mr Blair’s political moves have given me enough knowledge to atleast understand the way he leads the country and his approach towards national & international issues. Talking about Iraq, I believe, the Prime Minister has done a commendable job who stood side by side with Pres. Bush and showed his determination. Also, the steps Mr Blair is taking to fight terrorism in the home land is truely heroic.

    All in all – I would say England is blessed to have great leaders like Winston Churchill who saved the nation by winning the battle against the Nazis & in the same way Tony Blair who is winning the war on terror.

    regards
    Nilesh

    • 444.
    • At 03:33 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Sabremesh wrote:

    The “angry brigade” are out in force, and what an unattractive bunch they come across as. I suspect most of them are brainwashed Telegraph readers who can’t forgive him for banning that barbaric anachronism known as fox-hunting.

    The reality is that Blair has been an outstandingly successful PM. He is a globally recognised statesman, and history will remember him as such.

    • 445.
    • At 03:36 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Phil Bailey wrote:

    If Mr Blair inherited a strong ecconmomy from the Tories, then its a darn good thing HE inherited it. Otherwise the Tories would have lead us on into further instability and that strong ecconomy would have gone into recession just like the other booms under Thatcher and Major did. Mr Blair has given us 10 years of stability, the minimum wage and greater prosperity, started getting the public sector and welfare state back on the right track after the criminal damage Thatcher caused it, and reduced unemployment significantly.
    The Tories would not have and will not give us anything like this. The Conservatives are what their name suggests and will not bring progress.
    We should be thankful for Mr Blair, and look to continuing the stability he has given us.
    It might be an idea if we get rid of some of this beaurocracy he has lumbered us with though, because it is reducing the efficiency of so much of the public sector – including the police.
    It might be an idea if the Labour party step back from the center ground a little too and look at giving us the progress Britain needs to over come the massive wealth gap between the rich and poor. Mr Blair’s done a fair bit, but poverty is still causing misery, being partly to blame for things like the knifings in Peckham.
    The Labour party’s solid commitment to equality and social justice seems to have diminished since the days of Clement Atlee, and we still have not overcome the class boundries that are such a problem in Britain.

    • 446.
    • At 03:36 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tom Rimmer wrote:

    Grow up guys! Blair has done a huge amount of good for this country in 10 years. Noone will please everyone but he’s come as close to doing so as anyone before him. Faced with the dilemna of Brown or Cameron, I fear I may have to jump on board the ludicrously dull and lifeless Tory bandwagon rather than see this back-stabbing wannabe dictator take the reigns.

    • 447.
    • At 03:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rao Puvvula wrote:

    I was one of the admirers of Tony Blair. His intellect and communication skills are reminiscent of Bill Clinton. Clinton is a flawed man. But he did not destroy a country and kill thousands and thousands of people. Tony Blair will be remembered for a very very long time along with George Bush as the Buthers of Baghdad just as we remember Chengiz Khan after all these years.

    • 448.
    • At 03:40 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ken Howkins wrote:

    The decade of missed opportunities!

    • 449.
    • At 03:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John wrote:

    I think Kevin (post #2) has a clear point, and I agree with that.

    But there is also an aspect to Tony Blair which says something both about politics and about him. He is clearly a nice bloke. Whatever inanities and misadventures and lies and mistakes he may have got into, he clearly has fun and has a clear sense of irony about his role, and cheerfully resigned acceptance of its intractability. As people say with John Major, he works from a position of decency, however confused it may end up, and however much it may be overwhelmed with other motives. He doesn’t sleep around, or take drugs, or get involved in vast conspiracy machinations.

    This is not a comment on the effectiveness of his politics, nor even of his overall ethical status. But we learn from this that politics nowadays is able to accommodate people who can laugh at themselves, don’t need to so utterly pervert the political /process/ (think Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, JFK), and who can leave without a melt-down in their party. And we learn also that he is someone able to do this. Let me emphasise: he may be Machiavellian and a consummate, Clintonian triangulator. But he is a jokey, blokey, bluff, home-body, family-man, person.

    We definitely will miss someone who can rise above the violent chaos of politics with a cheeky grin, and we will rue any return to politics which cannot accommodate such people.

    The Tony Blair era was marked, by a person – not a machine or monster – atop the political tree. It may be a while before we see that again; regret its passing at leisure, those who feel strongly (as I do) about Tony Blair’s substantive failings (e.g. markets obsession, Iraq war).

    • 450.
    • At 03:42 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • neil coles wrote:

    Good Piece, Nick but for me Blair’s most damning mistake is still missing.

    Following the kidnap of TWO soldiers (that they have still failed to release)Isreal destroyed Lebanese civilian infrastructure and cluster bombed towns with american weapons. The world looked almost united in condemnation and calls for a ceasefire, but Blairs decision to go against the views of his people and legistimise the US/Isreali action allowed a prolongation of this terrorism, and cost thousands of deaths,years of development and problems to come.

    I felt humiliated and ashamed to be a UK citizen over these weeks, and feel we have become almost as hated as the UUS.

    This and Iraq combined are a shameful record for any human being. We can talk all day about his questionable record on domestic policy success, but ultimately Blairs lust for playing on the international stage cost tens of thousands of lives and led to further torture, terrorism and atrocity. The world is not more stable and the risks are higher both home and abroad.

    Who would have thought in 1997 that we’d elected a Neo-Con Labour PM!?

    • 451.
    • At 03:42 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • B Ward wrote:

    In Britain we are richer? really? Why aren’t our bank accounts showing this suppossed fact?

    • 452.
    • At 03:43 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Donna Johnston wrote:

    I find it disappointing that people forget what Tony has done for the UK. A good economy, low interest rate and low unemployment just to name a few. So he made a mistake with Iraq, he had backing from other parties. I think he is a great leader and he will be missed. Let focus on the last 10 years, not the last 3.

    • 453.
    • At 03:43 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steve wrote:

    A prime minister can only be judged on his own ambitions – Winston Churchill to defeat Nazism, Clement Attlee to create the welfare state, Margaret Thatcher to reform the economy. Blair’s stated aim was to reduce inequality and improve the social services – both he has failed on. Inequality is now at 1930’s levels and the social services are overrun by bureaucratic interference and disillusioned staff. He has had ten years and unprecedented parliamentary majorities and public support to achieve real reform and change. On that basis he has been a failure.

    • 454.
    • At 03:45 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andy R wrote:

    Mr Blair had some great achievements – I put Northern Ireland at the top,his personal drive had a lot to do with its success.
    On the down side, apart from Iraq – well meaning but 100,000 deaths wrong, the continuation of privatisation was a great disappointment – The main way to save money through privatisation is to squeeze jobs & pay – and it is always the poorer classes who suffer – good tory values!

    • 455.
    • At 03:45 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Will Watson wrote:

    Tony has been the world’s only dignified English speaking leader for the last ten years. I think we should be proud of him and look forward to Gordon taking up the mantle.

    All the trivia that has been introduced to try and diminish his status will be forgotten in time and he will have a legacy as a solid but not star quality PM. More of a Major than a Thatcher.

    • 456.
    • At 03:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Mr K Meadham wrote:

    I am deeply sorry he is going and I shall miss him. With him going he will probably take my vote as well as i can find no time for the so called party members who hounded him out or the party they have damaged Shame on them. IRAQ should not be his legacy it was not his fault i firmly beleive and blame Chirac and his puppet on a string Schroeder for the consequenses of Iraq, had they not vetoed involvement i am convinced Iraq would be a safe and happy place now. What is it that makes the French such cowards? they were gutless in the last war and it seems its a legacy that they excel at.Never ever condem the USA, without them in the last war we might still be under the jackboot now. They are our strongest ally and we must stay with them. They are also a very responsible nation. They dropped two Atomic bombs near the end of the last war and seeing the destruction they caused have been responsible in the past 50 years for not using them since and God knows there have been occasions like Vietnam when they must have been tempted! Will Iran be that responsible? I doubt it. I also blame you for being part of the media which in todays world has only to see a minute chink in someones armour and away you go to do the greatest harm you can. Leading up to the Iraq war the tabloids were full of diagrams of German built large deep bunkers built in secret locations known only to Saddam Hussain and his cronies, could that not be where the weapons of mass destuction are hidden?? If not they are equally as guilty as the goverment in misleading people and they also should account for there incorrect reporting. And lastly Nick why did you desert the ITV and choose BBC? I sincerely hope it was because the ITV news has become so biased against the Labour party and Tony Blair, seeking only to make everything so sensational. I say get rid of Mark Austin and his cronies. Please dont dissapoint me and say it was for the money. Tony I salute you the Labour party has lost its leading Icon and unfortunately there is no-one who comes anywhere near being able to lick your feet . You were simply the best the Labour Party ever had.

    • 457.
    • At 03:47 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Seth Eshun wrote:

    Tony Blair stands above them all. He on top looking down on all these kids who call them selves leaders & politicians.

    • 458.
    • At 03:49 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul wrote:

    This idea that the Blair years have been better than the Tory years and God help us if the Tories get back in is clearly ridiculous.

    Blair had to turn old socialist Labour into Tory New Labour in order to get elected in the first place! One of Thatcher’s aims was to banish socialism from Britain and it was a complete success. People who claim to be socialists and who vote for New Labour are deluding themselves, they are voting for old fashioned one nation Tories.

    Blair’s legacy will be that his government taxed us to the hilt in order to pour money into health and education but gave us a pathetic return on that investment through mismanagement.

    How much he knew when he decided to back Bush in Iraq is open to question. The fact that he continued to spin and tell lies after the decision in order to justify sending young British men and women to die in the fields of Iraq and Afghanistan sums up his premiership. I can think of nothing worse that a PM could do.

    Good riddance.

    I think Tony Blair has done a lot more good for this country than bad. Iraq’s a thorn in his side- but lets not forget that with WMD out of the equation we still got rid of a dictator.

    He’s been a fantastic auritor and has geninely brought the UK back as cool Britania.

    Cameron – is a snake… and it surprises me (and im only 26) how short peoples memories are, and how much the Tories had damanged this country (Scotland in particular).

    • 460.
    • At 03:50 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dempsey wrote:

    Its unfortunate that the Iraq war was a dent to the government of Mr. Blair. Other than that, he was the best Prime Minister Britain has ever had. I hope Britain will NOT have course to regret Mr. Blair decision to step down. We are all fooling ourself if we think David Cameron or any other opposition can equal his quality and petentials. Northern Ireland will forever be grateful for his dogmatic approach in resolving the conflict with over 2000 fatality in modern day British.
    He was a great leader comparable to the likes of Clinton and Nelson Mandela.

    • 461.
    • At 03:51 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Indira Lane wrote:
    What an insipid piece of ‘BBCfied’ infotainment! Blair is a war criminal who has lied countless times in office;yes, he’s leaving with a smile on his face…psychopaths smile a lot.

    • 462.
    • At 03:51 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alan wrote:

    Nick

    The damage caused to industry by the narcissistic leader is now well recognised and such people are, thankfully, being discredited. Can we please finally acknowledge that Blair fits into this sad category. For ‘visionary’ read self-believing, guiltless individual that craves adulation and manipulates the world around himself to achieve it. And, by golly, he has been clever at achieving it! You can almost believe him sometimes – and the best one is when he beats his chest and and pretends to seek understanding for mistakes.

    And please, please do not ask us to swallow this rubbish about any PM taking us to war in similar circumstances. I am a former senior military officer and I believe none of it. I simply do not accept that he was given such advice from MI6, the FO and his military chiefs. The intelligence spouted was laughable even to the layman. We were manipulated into this war and it disgusts me.

    • 463.
    • At 03:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alex Swanson wrote:

    “Millions, of course, have also come to feel betrayed by him”

    And what about those of us who always knew him for what he is?

    Memo to BBC staff: Not everybody was happy when Labour won in 1997!!

    • 464.
    • At 03:55 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Sid wrote:

    His leaving is a media event. I doubt if that many people in the country are that bothered.

    • 465.
    • At 03:56 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Chris Davies wrote:

    Kohl to Schroder – Schroder to Merkel…the Germans always do it better…while Blair/Brown left the private manufacturing and wealth-creating sector to rot and foreign takeover and hugely boosted the public sector , the Germans slimmed down, became more efficent yet and are now ready to resume their steady growth.We have had in fact the same Old Labour tax and spend and boom and bust albeit the latter managed by the MPC .So Britain is now bankrupt and in an overgeared mess,publicly and personally – a mess made by the new Prime Minister.Pity David Cameron’s job in 2009/2010.We are going to need a young,courageous and vigorous PM by then.

    • 466.
    • At 03:56 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul wrote:

    Nick,

    In 1997 Mr Blair stated that he would put the trust back into politics. A recent survey indicated that we now have a higher degree of trust in second-hand car salesmen than we do in our politicians. I do not mean to imply that Mr Blair is solely responsible for this state of affairs, but he certainly bears some responsibility for it.
    For me Blair has changed the face of British politics, but not sadly for the better. We live in a representative democracy where we are no longer represented. Claims that our economy is more stable owes more to a lack of political interference than it does to the efforts of our leaders, who none the less take full credit.
    The NI peace agreement is a classic case in point, Mr Blair claims this as a part of his legacy. Yet this was a process started under the Tories and continued by some very substantial Labour politicians. Will it convince other terrorist groups that terrorism is an effective means to an end?
    In the grand balance we have to measures his successes against his failures. Peace in NI has to be weighed against the Iraq debacle. Success in the economy against the damage done to the pension system and the damage done to our lower paid workers by rampant immigration.
    Mr Blair can best be judged by a statement he made recently in which he critised the fortnightly bin collection regime being imposed on us by members of his own cabinet. He is the consumate magician, but when you realise that its all done using smoke and mirrors, then the magic is gone.
    There is no doubt that during his reign some good has been done, the question is whether the good outweighs the damage.
    Remembering him as the greatest PM in living memory only serves to highlight how our expectations have lowered. It also brings into stark contrast the lack of real talent that our political system brings to the fore.
    Luckily for Mr Blair, he will be followed by Gordon Brown and very possibly Mr Cameron. I have no doubt that this will cast a shining light on the Blair years, allowing us to give Mr Blair the accolades that he so much desires and so little deserves.

    • 467.
    • At 03:57 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dr Lijun Shang wrote:

    As a foreigner, I hardly remember other British PM other than Tony Blair & Margaret Thatcher. They were great leader in the UK.

    • 468.
    • At 03:57 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard Poole wrote:

    Today’s resignation speech by Tony Blair showed the real man; the humour and the humility as well as sharing something of the huge burden placed on his shoulders as PM of this great country. I am convinced, just as he is convinced that he has tried to do what was right even if it wasn’t always popular. Instead of being forced from office he has sought to resign in a dignified and honourable manner, but Nick Robinson and certain other members of the press are like a dog with a bone, seeking to draw attention to Tony Blair’s mistakes and at the same time failing to acknowledge and celebrate his successes. I thought the BBC was meant to be impartial when it came to such reporting. As someone said to me recently, it is far easier for the donkey to kick down the barn door than for the barn door to be built in the first place. It is so much easier to criticise and tear down rather than have the burden and responsibility for making the tough decisions that have to be made, and seeking to build for the future. Although I feel like a lone voice at this time, I wish Tony Blair well and thank him for all he has done for us and our nation.

    • 469.
    • At 03:58 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Vivian Perkins wrote:

    Hope he follows Maggie’s example and retires gracefully. He may have resigned as Prime Minister, but I fear he is not gone yet! We will get constant news about what the Blairs are doing.

    • 470.
    • At 03:59 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jones wrote:

    A perspective of someone not from the UK.

    One should be proud to have a PM of Tony Blair’s qualities. Nick is correct in pointing out his ability to persuade. First, you will not have too many premiers in the world who will be willing to take on a live audience and second come out of it with ones head held high.

    Remember the saying ” its the economy stupid”, therefore the decision to go to Iraq must have been taken keeping in mind the need to access a global energy source especially with the depleting reserves in the north sea. Looking back at history will show that all small nations and especially island ones England, Japan etc have gone out to colonise so that they can get their hands on resources which will sustain the living standards of its population. If that is true then Tony Blair was just following history.

    Most of Tony Blair’s other decisions have been taken with positive intentionsfor the population. I todays day and age UK is a thriving nation which enjoys a good lifestyle with transport schools etc plus a free health system. Forget asylum seekers, if the country can attract so many economic migrants tells one a story that this country has many things going for it.

    I think there are too many arm chair critics who have no idea about reality and like to moan. Now time should be spent in making the best use of all the foreign entrepreneurs that the country has been able to attract and to enable them to operate businesses in this country so that creates jobs. Otherwise it is impacting the lazy culture of some Britons as they are getting used to the hand-outs by the govt. That is what Gordon Brown needs to tackle along with avoiding wastage of govt money along with caring for the environment.

    • 471.
    • At 04:04 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John.G.Coleman wrote:

    At the time John Smith died I was heavely involved with the Labour Party as a district secretary, and at the time of his death I was on holiday in Sorrento, and my wife asked me who did I think would be the Leader? My reply was, I think it would be Tony Blair but added if it is then I will never vote Labour again until he is gone because he is not a Socialist, and that has happened. The most annoying thing about this whole affair is that the very thing he has done in Iraq and cost thousands of lives and is still costing lives, he is running away from, whilst our lads out there have to clean up the mess he has created. He has left a legacy of death and destruction because he is an habitual liar. I hope he holds his head in shame.

    • 472.
    • At 04:05 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Nigel Wheatcroft wrote:

    He promised so much to so many and achieved so little for so many.
    I hope the electorate and the media to be much more questioning about who leads the country in the future.He leaves a poisoned chalice to Gordon to drink from.
    Substance not spin please.

    I must be going deaf.
    I never heard clown Blair once apologise for Iraq and the dead thousands -civilians and servicemen alike;nor any sorrow for the
    degeneration of health,education and other publice services of this country once the envy of the world.If crime and order is not up why is there not plenty of prison space?
    Bye-bye Blair.Please don’t wait until nearly the end of June.Go now,but please,quietly…

    • 474.
    • At 04:09 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Stephen wrote:

    When, exactly, does the Blair Broadcasting Corporation become the
    Brown Broadcasting Corporation?
    Has he gone yet?

    • 475.
    • At 04:12 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • mark stephenson wrote:

    In order to fully evaluate Mr Blair’s legacy we have to ask ourselves: “Under the ‘Blair’ Years, has Britain become a safer place to live? Is the family stronger and more secure? Are our Public Services still the ‘envy’ of the World? Do People matter more than Profit? Honesty can only lead us to answer ‘No!’ to all these questions.

    • 476.
    • At 04:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dominik Leeson wrote:

    I was eight years old when Tony Blair was elected. He’s the only Prime Minister I’ve ever known, even though I was aware who John Major was. The truth is, Blair did alot, and his speech sums it up. He did what he thought was right, and I don’t think we could ever ask anything more from a politician. He helped many young people with school investment, and I saw that change first hand in high school. He made it easier for single-parent families to get work and he gave a chance for greater equality amongst all of us. Yes he made his mistakes, like every Prime Minister has before him, and like all the Prime Ministers will to follow. Our expectations were high, he didn’t meet them, but we got to stop looking at Iraq and Afghanistan, because, apart from that, most of his policies and ideas, where to protect Britatin and were for the good of the nation, despite our personal beliefs. Thanks Tony, you shall be missed.

    • 477.
    • At 04:16 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • peter cameron wrote:

    Tony Blair gave the Labour Party a reality check and dragged it into government after a long period of exile. We sometimes need reminding that government is not about giving everybody everything they want, but a question of making often unpopular choices for the perceived common good.
    Tony Blair had the misfortune to fall into the sights of a bloated and supercilious media driven by its own internal competition to the point where all politicians are identified as key targets for attack, vilification and often cheap and tawdry criticism.
    His list of achievements is impressive: Peace in northern Ireland, The minium wage, massive investment in public services and so on. there is a counter list including Iraq but no one can take away from him the fact that under his leadership, the Labour Party has enjoyed unparalleled success.

    • 478.
    • At 04:17 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter wrote:

    After 10 years and with majorities Conservatives could only dream about. The only enduring legacies will be.

    1. Ending of betting tax.
    2. The Freedom of Information legislation.

    Pitiful.

    • 479.
    • At 04:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alex Hatfield wrote:

    Wow – what alot of negativity.

    I marched in London against the war in Iraq but I remain proud of Labour’s achievements over the last 10 years.

    I may have disagreed on certain things but that is Democracy. I helped get Labour in and I hope that I will help keep them in power.

    On the whole I think he has proved to be a decent PM, not afraid to be unpopular when needed and an able performer both here and abroad.

    As to his legacy? Well, I will thank him for the end of the Tories, bringing Society back to the political table, Northern Ireland, a massive improvement in public services, and a well run economy.

    I hate his decision to go into Iraq, but we elect our own leaders, and I honestly think that he thought it was the right thing to do.

    Over to you, Mr Brown.

    • 480.
    • At 04:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Sean Flude wrote:

    I voted for Mr Blair and I thought he generally did a good job which is something I can’t say for the rest of his party. Let’s face it – he was the greatest leader the Tory party never had.

    I am sorry to see him go mostly because of what is expected to come next leadershipwise for the Labour party and our country.

    Bring on the general election i say so we can “out” the used husk that was new labour . There is plenty of work to be done unravelling the mess our society has been left in . We should now look to the future.

    • 481.
    • At 04:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Dave Fishwick wrote:

    Exit stage left one of the biggest freeloaders this country has ever had! Tony came in as PM in an age of personal image, and that is all we were sold. He appeared to be a “nice guy”, one of us and someone that we could trust to do business on our behalf as the main representative of UK PLC. He broke that trust by also bringing in Gordon Brown, who by legalised theft has built himself an image as a prudent chancellor, this is a man who has either lost or given away billions of our money in various dubious ways, and he is likely to be our next PM! A great legacy Tony, but will you care as you’ll be off to make more millions on the ex-statesman dinner circuit!

    • 482.
    • At 04:22 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andy Hart wrote:

    “The British are special – the world knows it, in our innermost thoughts we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth.”

    Have you been at the absinth Mr Blair? Oscar Wilde wrote ‘After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they’re not.

    Greatest nation on earth? Not in my innermost thoughts we’re not.

    • 483.
    • At 04:22 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ed wrote:

    I will remember Tony Blair for two things: his arguably illegal wars of aggression and his cheapening of the honours system.

    • 484.
    • At 04:26 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Matt Bingham wrote:

    I can’t beleive the “hatred” of Tony Blair from so many sections. After the runination of this country by Thatcher and her millionaire cronies Blair has led this country forward and onwards. Where I and almost all of my friends were unemployed under Tory rule we are now prosperous under Blair.

    The Tories destroyed any sense of community and today’s unruly teenagers are a direct result of their policies.

    Those bemoaning the last ten years ought to get their heads out of the sand. If Cameron and his front bench of Tory toffs get in (thirteen of them went to Eton!!!!!) we will be all finished but then it will be too late.

    • 485.
    • At 04:26 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Julian wrote:

    Blair has made all politics, all politicians and all political commentators irrelevant.

    If you are going to deny everything, I am just going to ignore everything you say.

    Legacy what legacy, sorry was not listening.

    Enjoy tuscany x

    • 486.
    • At 04:30 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Andrew H wrote:

    I shall not miss Tony Blair, nor the Labour party when they are finally ousted from power.

    All this man did was to carry on a weakish Thatcherist agenda i.e. a market economy with huge increase in government spending, and thus tax, (which for the most part have been, mis-managed, mis-spent, and utterly wasted), to the detriment of the ever suffering tax payer. And no, Blair and Brown are not responsbile for the current economic climate, Margaret Thatcher was the one pulled our economy out of the dark ages, and allowed it to be competive again, Labour were lucky, in that the business cycle was moving from recession to better times around the time of their election.

    Blair’s poltical policies have been a waste of time, here are some his finer moments (And I do not need to mention Iraq):

    – Increased spending on the NHS, with no improvement (Having had to extensively rely on the NHS recently has been a sobering experience, just trying to get an appointment with a GP is a test of will)

    – Education in crisis after increased spending

    – Stealth taxes, including a pernicious tax on pension savings

    – Gross over complication of tax laws (9000+ pages of tax law)

    – Increased government, civil servants, and Pointless regional governments, with little more power than local councils. ?0.5 billion spent on the Scottish parliament building, which was way over budget (For poor turnout in regional elections). Over powerful councils arbitrarily raising council tax.

    – ?0.8 billion wasted on the Millenium Dome

    – Pointless over legislation and red tape, particularly fox hunting

    – Poor handling of the foot and mouth crisis. Animals destroyed needlessly when vaccination would have been as effective

    – Disorganisation and mismanagement at the home office

    – Electoral irregularities and postal voting

    – The entire cabinet interviewed by the policy due to suspect funding and loan agreements

    Blair has no legacy, because he never had any incisive, effective poltical ideas in the first place, rather just a fuzzy mix of socialism and thatcherism, which was always doomed to fail.

    • 487.
    • At 04:30 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Aaron wrote:

    Nick, I often agree we your summaries, but not this time. The only truth is that Blair is a man who had no clear idea, who led the country into a senseless war in Iraq, and lied in doing so, who has kow-towed to not one but two American presidents, and whose record domestically has been full of lies, spin, empty rhetoric and unfulfilled promises

    roll on June 27

    • 488.
    • At 04:30 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jon wrote:

    The grass is always greener, and with time grows contempt….
    There are many other one-liners and moral quips that seem appropriate on this day. But I wonder how long it is before we realise just how good a PM Mr Blair was?
    Do I know feel safer in the city at night? No, but I feel safer in this country than when travelling within any other EU nation. The growing culture of violence is on the increase world wide and it is likely trying to stop the oceans from rolling.
    Is our education systen better than ever before- definitley.
    Am I and those i know ‘better-off’- yes. year on year of ecomonic stability and sustainable growth.

    However these are aspects of the political agenda that often get over-shadowed by the war. So lets deal if that.

    I was borne and raised in Nothern Ireland, not far from a hotspot of religious divide and hatred. I know first hand what life is like to be affraid of doing the simple things in life like walking home from school or shopping in the town centre. Or worrying if my mum or dad weren’t home when expected that there had been an attack nearby. Tuesday was an in historic day in Nothern Ireland which saw the opening of the Assembly with the support of all parties. Something which i never thought i would see in my life time (I am only in my twenties). Tony Blair has had a massive influence in this progression and has helped to save countless lives (please remember that nearly 4000 people have died in the ‘TROUBLES’ to date).

    The impact in Sierra Leone and Serbia under his leadership has also been amazing. Although of course he was not alone in their resolution, his positive attitude and hand of democracy was highly influencial.

    Iraq.

    Did it go according to plan?
    Definitely not.
    Did he lie?
    I really dont think that he did. I belive that he would have got the support of Parliament to go to war if the reason sighted was to remove Suddam.
    Is it a better place today?
    I cant speak for the Iraqi people but as already mentioned i have experienced living in a war like environmnet. The major thing that keep Nothern Ireland going and preventing it from total-melt down was the hope that things could get better and the fact there was a judice system to enforce the law for all the population. If i were an Iraqi i would be devasted by the war and suffering caused but i would have hope for a democratic and free future.

    Mr Blair I thank you and wish you well.

    Blair will now be judged on what he does next.

    That will answer a lot, for sure.

    Credit where it is due, Nik, you have presented politics in an interesting fashion and I hope you continue to do so whoever holds the role and thankless task of Prime Minister.

    Thought: Just imagine if the UK had adopted a ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) as a ballot paper choice.
    That would make politics a little more interesting!

    • 490.
    • At 04:33 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Damo wrote:

    Looking through these comments brings a smile to my face, but it’s a smile of resignation.

    I find it hard to believe that most of those who condemn could do a better job.

    I mean if any of us were unfortunate enough to have the 24-hour media spotlight focussed on our every move, would any of us be able to take the strain?

    Who of the commenters here have lives that are squeeky clean? Who can claim to have made no errors of judgement? Who has always acted honourably and never been deceptive to get what they want? Who has never tried to cover up their tracks or tried to imply it wasn’t their fault when they knew it really was?

    If there are any, then fine. But for the rest of you who openly despised, perhaps you should remember a famous saying: “With the judgements you are giving others, you will be judged”

    Why not try running for office yourselves? Then after you’ve walked a mile in a PM’s shoes, you’ll really be in a position to condemn.

    • 491.
    • At 04:34 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • E wrote:

    Is anyone else disturbed by his declaration of leading “the greatest nation on earth”?
    Pride aside, surely this kind of statement is inappropriately nationalistic. What on earth is a leader of an EU country blurting something like that out?

    • 492.
    • At 04:34 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Matt wrote:

    Well Nick aren’t you full of surprises
    not the damning critique I would have expected from you, considering the usual BBC endorsed bias we are accustomed to from you. Perhaps Tony will keep this epitaph as one of his more memorable achievemants.

    • 493.
    • At 04:34 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • quinton wrote:

    Blair has done alrite in his tenure.

    Its always easy to be meek & mild and avoid descisions that may come back to bite you. Blair showed that he isnt scared of putting his neck on the line.

    Hindsight always allows people to dig into issues and spin it into a negative but over all I feel he has done a good job.

    • 494.
    • At 04:36 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tom Rimmer wrote:

    Jones,

    What age do you think we live in? Colonialism has long departed us and your suggestions that Mr Blair was “simply following history” is as ignorant as is incorrect.

    The debates as to whether the war on Iraq was, at least in part, fuelled by an agenda to secure natural resources may never be adequately resolved. Yet your unequivolcal belief in this motive is frightningly ill-informed.

    Whilst I agree that the economic attractions of the UK to migrants is a cause for celebration, I believe it more productive to consider what measures can be introduced to further improve the entrepreneurial opportunities for migrants and native Britons alike.

    • 495.
    • At 04:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • IH wrote:

    Hope he off-set the carbon for a fairly pointless return flight up to Sedgefield…

    • 496.
    • At 04:39 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Aaron wrote:

    Let’s ask the 69355 dead people in Iraq.

    • 497.
    • At 04:44 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Simon Rennie wrote:

    Blair wil be remembered in no small part for the continuous habit of ‘spin’ which goes on right to the end of his term of office. What other PM has left with such a barrage of media coverage over such an extended period of time? What other PM, whilst still in office, has so openly obsessed about their legacy, about how others perceive their term of office?

    • 498.
    • At 04:45 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • laurence sheppard wrote:

    This analysis is biased and sentimental Tony Blair has done nothing for this country and the lame duck about to take over him….well what a joke.But they both have the names in history that is all that matters to them.

    • 499.
    • At 04:46 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Neil Shillito wrote:

    Pass the sick bag, Alice.

    • 500.
    • At 04:48 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • steve from london wrote:

    After ten years of squandered optimism, I suppose my enduring view of Blair’s legacy is this:

    ‘Never again will it be necessary for any politician – to attain high office – to have ever actually had a job. To have indulged in politics all one’s adult life is sufficient qualification to rule over those who pay for them.’

    That, in my opinion, is why this administration is so tragically distant from the wants and needs of those who elected it with such euphoria a decade ago.

    • 501.
    • At 04:51 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • John Douglass wrote:

    I love Tony, he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I don’t know how I’ll sleep at night now.

    • 502.
    • At 04:51 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • jim winkley wrote:

    When he became prime minister we were pleased particularily after the sleeze of before .He has done some excellent things such as the northern ireland issue but Iraq dams him for all time.After the dreadful 9/11 he should have realised that the shock to the US was so great that whoever was president would have to be seen to do something.Invade Iraq was the easy option.The difference between the countries was that most Us citizens backed Bush at the time,we had more sense it was just bvlair that lacked common sense.Just talk to Americans now and see if they agree with Bush.We pointed out to our US friends that if we had reacted to bomb outrages as they did we would have bombed Boston years ago

    • 503.
    • At 04:53 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Duncan Smith wrote:

    One of Blairs “achievements” was the neutering of investigative journalism. Only in the last year or so has any real questioning and probing by radio / TV / papers been tried. Did the press roll over, take the stories they were fed from No 10 and go home early. Thats what it looked like. Why has there been no backtracking on policy issues and promises. How often were we told for example “mobile phone theft will be stopped blah blah” where is the count back 6 or 12 months later. Is it too boring for todays journalists or are editors only interested in their own positions. Blair will be viewed badly by history. A commensurate politician with 3 election victories. A failure as a Prime Minister whose lasting legacy will be the results of his constitutional tinkering the full results of which will take a few years to unwind and be visible.

    • 504.
    • At 05:00 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Gordon Davison wrote:

    You say he will not be missed,for myself and the likes of middle earners he outsayed his welcome by at least 8 years

    • 505.
    • At 05:04 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Sidney Akera wrote:

    Twice today, once by a BBC reporter and once by Peter Hain, I learn thatTB has had fulsome praise lavished on him. I agree he is overrated but ‘fulsome’ is going a bit to far, isn’t it?

    • 506.
    • At 05:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Peter Miles wrote:

    I was first married in May 1979, a few days before Thatcher came to power. I spent the next 18 years of married life seeing my country become more divide, I feared for my job and saw greed applauded. In May 1997 I had new hope in a socialist government and a new marriage!

    In 10 years since then much has been achieved by both of us. As with TB I have taken good decisions and made bad mistakes, but always in good faith and in the belief it was the right thing to do; who can say differently about themselves?

    I truly believe that TB and the Labour government we have had in the last 10 years has improved the quality of this country for the vast majority of us; health, min wage, education, Ireland, employment etc.

    Kosovo was good and Iraq is bad, but more British servicemen were killed in the Falklands than in Iraq/Afghanistan. The people in dieing in Iraq today are being killed by Iraqis not TB. His failure was that there was no post-war planning and what are the Arabs as a whole doing to stop the killing?

    So where was DC on Black Wednesday and what was his mortgage rate?

    Will DC and his Etonian mates really care about the poor, elderly and disadvantage, I think not.

    I won’t miss TB, but I will miss a Labour government

    • 507.
    • At 05:16 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Phil wrote:

    Sadly Blair was a naive, starry-eyed idealist. He did believe he was doing the right thing ( in Iraq, I believe his main intention was to balance and try to direct Bush, plus he believed in regime change in itself, though I doubt he believed Bush’s real reason was ‘WMD’ ).

    His problem was he was too easily led by statistics, focus groups and his own ‘good principles’.

    Who else remembers his genuine shock when confronted in a debate with the fact that his ‘two day waiting for a GP target’ had only succeeded in GPs refusing to book appointments any further in advance – hence denying vast numbers access to GPs – when he thought the target being met had in reality meant a better service for all?

    As a result we have greater inequality than ever before ( assisting business to generate wealth only generates wealth for.. businesses ), a part-privatised NHS and education system run for vast profits by those with no vested interest in improving services, a cuturally fractured and ill-educated society and blood on our hands from the thousands ( millions? ) dead in the Middle East as a result of our ‘mistake’.

    May he find a kinder world outside the harsh reality he’s struggled with, and may he come to terms with the guilt he must surely hold from the results of his actions.

    It is hard to forgive even when you know there was no real ill-intent, when seeing the destruction resulting from his actions.

    • 508.
    • At 05:18 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Geoff Bunn wrote:

    “Seeing things as they are not” (Oscar Wilde) would be a good summary of many on here.

    Personal animosity, political ideology and a failure to understand the military and economic ties that bind the UK to the USA have disturbed your vision.

    Blair may be no ‘great’; but overall the UK – economically speaking – is the envy of Europe and much of the western world.

    Now you may not like that. You may think the “honours system” more important. You may all just decide that it’s more important to ‘give the Conservatives another chance’ or whatever. But the success of the UK economy, under Blair and Labour is a fact and one worth bearing in mind.

    • 509.
    • At 05:19 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Jim Hughes wrote:

    Though Blair leaves with some genuine achievements to his name (all listed above, no need to repeat them) I can’t help feeling he leaves office with the UK – and the world – no better off.

    That he leaves British politics with the angry left utterly marginalised can only be a good thing: anyone who who recalls the chaos of the 70’s will probably agree. Equally, his welfare reforms are commendable.

    But I can’t forgive him for introducing us to the style of government where spin matters more than substance, and publicity triumphs over policy. I also think it’s telling that the average person is no better off, and has had their civil liberties frighteningly eroded.

    Perhaps his most telling achievement is that, after 10 years in power, he leaves the Tories in their strongest position for almost 40 years. I wonder if he will appreciate the irony.

    • 510.
    • At 05:20 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Benjamin Harvey wrote:

    It’s at least reassuring that so many of us here (four hundred and eighty five, as I write this) have an actual opinion on Blair and his time in power; that so many people can express their view, their thoughts and their stories is gladdening when you think of all the people we all know that couldn’t care less about government and its actions.

    But: all of our thoughts now, all of our opinions, they will – very soon – be pushed aside by the lingering ripples and side-effects of what Blair has done, of his actions, of his inactions. History will be the true judge of him.

    Ten years. He had ten years of perfect, perfect conditions on which to make real progress – he had an incredibly stable economy that grew without any significant inflationary pressures. He had a full and hearty majority in the House. He had unrivalled stability with the Trade Unions. He had no threats of aggressive nations. Ten years of blissful potential.

    …I just can’t help feeling that he should have done more with it…

    • 511.
    • At 05:20 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • RichardB wrote:

    Why has every commentator forgotten what real leaders are supposed to do?
    In 1997 with such a large majority Tony more than any other PM in modern times had a guaranteed two term mandate for the radical, always unpopular at first, but truly reforming upheaval that we still require today in healthcare, education, transport and red tape. Great leaders of the past created the health service and the welfare state in much less favourable circumstances. Consumed with overwhelming insecurity about his own position and popularity, he blew it right from the start and tinkered and fiddled and spun. What do we have to show for it in all of our experience of these public services today? Nothing except a lot of wasted tax spend.

    Then as the domestic political opposition imploded (several tmes) he deluded himself to be a leader on a significant international level. As a result; hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqi’s, no prospect of a solution in the middle east and a universal (and perhaps justifiable) hatred of us as a country by a significant proportion of the world. That is going to take a long time to get over.
    So one major issue left, N.Ireland to which I say two things; John Major started it (boringly this is true) and Mo Mowlem made it happen.
    He was never a great leader what a waste!

    • 512.
    • At 05:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Kevin Borrett wrote:

    Good assessment of Tony Blair’s ability to judge the mood of the moment as a consumate showpiece politician.

    Pity the record of substance other than Northern Island is less “defining”

    It is a bit disappointing the vitriol that the Prime Minister has been subjected to by large sections of the British public for his mishandling of the Iraqi conflict. It is true that his judgement on the issue reflected a neo-imperial approach to international policy-making. As someone who is acquainted with `pre-emptive military force’, the classic example of the way in which the Northern Island peace process was handled by PM Blair was astonishing, and one is left to wonder why such a model was not appropriated in the context of the wider Middle East debacle. Little wonder critics and cynics alike perceive that the `oil question’ was and still is the driver of Western imperial hegemony. Personally, I wish Mr. Blair well, and as a politician I believe he will continue to cut a figure of paradox and deference. I see him being useful in the international campaign against economic inequalities and social injustice in parts of the world � developed and emerging democracies. It will be useful for him and others, to encourage the EU to restart a constructive dialogue with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of countries in light of the drastic reduction in the trade of commodities that have affected the foreign exchange retention of this important group. – Progressive Student of History.

    • 514.
    • At 05:27 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Ben Rocker wrote:

    Since when has ‘doing what he thought was right’ been even relevant to judging the performance and legacy of a Prime Minister?

    I’m sure Tony was terribly earnest in his pursuit of all policy, but it doesn’t make him right, either in hindsight or at the time.

    My heart goes out today to the families of the thousands of innocent people – British, Iraqi, Afghani and so on – who died as a consequence of Tony Blair’s dogmatic pursuit of ‘what is right’. They must watch his trite farewell speech with utter disbelief.

    • 515.
    • At 05:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • ray cork wrote:

    The success in Northern Ireland is due to the loss of support for the IRA in the USA following 9/11 as much as to the actions of Tony Blair.

    • 516.
    • At 05:37 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • roger wrote:

    Tony blair in my opinion has made mistakes but i think his heart was in the right place when he made them.
    He has done a great deal for this country and more importantly has been a good strong leader for this country.
    How many prime ministers would have survived the flak he did over iraq?
    Only a very strong leader would survive such a hostile barrage that he took.
    Theres an old saying you dont know what you have got till you lose it.

    In years to come he will stand out as one of the most outstanding prime ministers and leaders this country has ever had.

    well done tony mate – you did a great job.

    • 517.
    • At 05:38 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • George wrote:

    I was always proud when I saw Blair on the centre stage with other world leaders. He was a real statesman who know what to say and how to say it.

    • 518.
    • At 05:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Rob wrote:

    For me, Blair could have been worse.

    He was lucky, the China effect spread around the globe and that deflationary climate kept interest rates low. The country prospered as a result. The City boomed as a result of Thatchers ‘Big Bang’. His neighbour sucked us for more taxes along the way and they both squandered it. THat he did not make a mess of the economy is thanks more to global factors. Oh if Maggie had his luck!!

    He presided over a growth in the dependancy culture, not just financial but in a way that is now ingrained in the British psyche; that is the reliance on government for all the answers, to mop up the mess and in that the government in my view makes a bad job it and I regret the loss of self reliance, spirit of enterprise and independance that Maggie gave the nation. In short, the Nanny State has done some wonderful things but it is also responsible for many of the nations ills.

    Devolution is out of the bottle now and we have yet to see how the English will react to that, but there is a growing pride in Englishness as a result of the inequities introduced by Blair in order to prop up his government from Scotland. After years of teaching that there is something to be ashamed of in our own flag, this at last is nice to see.

    So how could he have been worse. Well when John Smith died, John Majors Government was already finished, Labour wanted power and elected Blair. They could easily have elected Brown, and now they will. The worst is yet to come – what a miserable future is in store.

    • 519.
    • At 05:44 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • wbarnes wrote:

    I won’t waste a lot of time on this. Bliar is just about the worst and most duplicitous Prime Minister this country has ever had. The damage he and his cronies have inflicted will take years to correct if at all. The only PM who comes any where near him for stupidity, dishonesty ,etc., is Heath. It is quite a toss up between them. The only problem is that Brown may be just as bad and certainly has nearly doubled taxes by stealth.

    • 520.
    • At 05:50 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul Warren wrote:

    Blair has betrayed everything that he and his party once claimed to stand for. Over the past decade we’ve seen the invasion of Iraq, an exploding gap between rich and poor, and contempt for civil liberties. The greedy and the hyper-wealthy owe him a lot – the rest of us owe him nothing.

    • 521.
    • At 05:55 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Darren English wrote:

    I think people need to cast their minds back to 1997. Have people forgot about the state this country was in? Unemployment, poverty, dirty cities, eroding school buildings, a health service which was an embrassment to a so called “G8” nation.

    Look around our nation today, people have hope, cities are booming, education and health have improved, Northern Ireland has hope after decades of decline.

    Not everything is perfect, mistakes have been made. But today I can say that I am prouder than ever to be British, and that, in part, is thanks to Tony Blair.

    • 522.
    • At 06:04 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steve Fuller wrote:

    Tony Blair will be replaced by Gordon Brown who will lose the next election to David Cameron. He will be voted in by an electorate lulled into complacancy by ten years of public investment, stability and affluence. Cameron will be a disaster and only then will the electorate realise what a good Prime Minister Tony Blair has been. .

    • 523.
    • At 06:05 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Bryan McIntosh wrote:

    I think a few of the post are’tired and emotional. Blair’s legacy is the disaster in Iraq, an unstable world and a disunited Labour party. Good riddance to bad rubbish, roll on the Hague.

    • 524.
    • At 06:08 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Paul McGovern wrote:

    Tony, Tony, Tony, I have to admit I was only 11 years old when Mr Blair became Prime Minister but I remember watching the T.V as he was elected and seeing this fresh new young face in politics and thinking to myself, “Hey mabye politics isnt so boring afterall” after studying politics to A-Level and growing up watching Mr Blairs Career progress I found that politics certainly wasnt boring, Mr Blair taught me several things, always keep affairs such as buying flats out of the public eye, give your wife a good talking to before letting her free for the day and never just invade a country for the hell of it. Or for that matter spend millions building a national car park in the shape of a Dome.
    However I cant be just cynical of Mr Blair, It was because of his government that People my age and below recived educational maintainence allowance which made studying at A-Level that much easier , especially coming from a working class background. He has made good reforms in Social policy and made us a very liberal country. As leaders go we could have done worse, still it will be interesting to see whether the party supports Mr.Brown when he achieves the leadership.

    • 525.
    • At 06:14 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Frank Kihere Zimula wrote:

    Tony Blair. You do love him or hate him, he has done his part tremmendously. He has brought change and changed the face of Britain through diversity, changed the image of the NHS,Education was his top priority and his government has managed and sustained a great economy never before. His greatest shortfall is the Iraq war but his greatest legacy should be Northern Ireland. He will be remebered as a political bulkwark and a man of real stature.

    • 526.
    • At 06:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • paul morris wrote:

    A great nation ?, many with short memories of life under the Tories. Many who complain any tax is too much tax and then demand solid gold public services, where were they when pensioners were dying of cold in the Tory years ?. Too many NIMBY’s who complain that its all not good enough but oppose positive change of any sort. Then there’s the stop the war campaigners who did nothing to oppose Saddam, Kosovo or any of the other ethnic cleansing being practiced around the world. My money is on these same people being first on the street when the middle east falls to radical fundamentalism and petrol hits £10 a litre.
    Then there’s the free press, full of hacks free to whinge and whine and dig up the dirt or free to make it up if none can be uncovered.
    Ten years ! I’m suprised you put up with them that long.
    Much progress has been made over your ten years in office, made despite large sections of this great nation, and for that I for one thank you Tony.
    You will be greatly missed.

    I’ve just heard that Tony Blair is off and about time too.
    I was so impressed with his time in charge I moved to Switzerland recently. He was more of a let down than Thatcher, because at least you knew what you were getting with her (I’m no fan!).
    He promised a lot and effectively just ruined the UK’s reputation abroad. It will take generations to recover our standing abroad and probably longer to repair the Iraq debacle.

    • 528.
    • At 06:26 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Edward Tokely wrote:

    I will remember Tony Blair as the man who has carried me through education, modernized my local hospital and increased police numbers. He has been the modernizer of society that leaves Britain with an economy at the summit of the world. He has intensified a technological revolution, created jobs and built a capital city for the twenty first century. The establishment of a London assembly along with devolution in both Scotland and Wales have led to the importance of provinces and local politics as many towns have undergone improved infrastructure. Nationally, people are better off and many now have opportunities that they never would have had under a Conservative Thatcher government. Domestically Tony Blair was superb, and his legacy should still be remembered in years to come for making Britain ‘the greatest nation on Earth’.

    • 529.
    • At 06:45 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Moe mussa wrote:

    Tony Blair, Africa/America will miss him and Prediction-He will become a Moslem.

    • 530.
    • At 07:05 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Alan Brown wrote:

    When I think of Blair, his spin doctors, his dubious cronies, the words. Corruption, corruptionm, corruption, come to mind. A self admiring, narcisistic popinjay. Not worthy of the office of Prime Minister. He has done almost unrepairable harm to the United Kingdom. My own personal nickname for him is Tony Blah-Blah-Blah.
    Other commentators on other websites refer to him as Tiny Blur which is probably a trifle mild for such an awful person.

    • 531.
    • At 07:39 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Tim wrote:

    The comments on this page (I haven’t read them all) are interesting for one common theme, the more vitrioloic the criticism, the more likely the anger is focused on one issue. This is of course what democracy is all about however there was only one person who for the last ten years has had to contend with all of the issues mentioned on this page, that was Tony Blair.

    The essential difference between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ is an emphasis on investment of ideas and policy for all, or a similar focus on the privileged few in the hope that they will drag the rest of the country along with them. No prime Minister works without context, and in the context he inherited TB was true to the ethos of the Labour party. For this reason he get my support and praise.

    There is no objectivity in getting dramatically irate about individual issues (although it is understandable), to my mind, the last ten years have taken the country in an ethically more justifiable direction.

    As a member of the “middle class”, I’ve certainly noticed the effect of this Government on my pocket, even if income tax didn’t go up, every other tax seems to have done.

    I’m not quite sure what I’ve got for my money either. Pension is sliding, my local hospital is around 1 millon pounds in the red and my local secondary school has an 80% failure rate at GCSE. The bins are now collected every other week too. I sincerely hope that other people have benefited from the money that Tony’s Government have taken from me.

    On the plus side, what’s been done is Northern Ireland is a fantastic achievement, as was giving the Bank of England control of interest rates, so for those two thing at least, he’s done something good.

    funny thing is, its very easy for everyone to beat Blair down but lets look at what he has done

    1, better education results
    2, better schooling in general
    3, britain is richer than ever
    4, lower unemployment
    5, less waiting times on nhs
    6, more nurses

    i could go on, people have a serious problem with britain being involved with the Irag war because britain is a nation of complainers who would rather sit back and lets others do than do themselves this was the problem throughout the 1980’s and continues today and this can be seen on this forum as well.
    We stopped murder, rape and other discusting things happening in Iraq ok the basis of this war was untruthful because we had alittle of no evidence of weapons being built was this more to do with the fact they had been destroyed prior to our inspectors gaining access of course to most people the many delays in gaining access would ring true to this fact. Saddam was out and yes unofficial civil war takes his place but changes takes time in 20 years iraq will be a different place.
    Unfortunately so will Briton we have lost a leader willing to build bridges and speak out making choices that other dare not make in previous government. Thatcher was no great leader she was a circumstance of the time she took office no better than others of her Era where as Blair developed our country into the prosperous land in which we live today and yet you still complain, so to end i ask how will you speak in 10 years when all that is good now is reversed by the conservatives

    • 534.
    • At 09:54 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • jono wrote:

    Tony was not the best PM in the world, but at least he had the balls to go to war and look out for the power of Britain and true British people over the world.

    • 535.
    • At 10:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • S Shetty wrote:

    We will miss you Mr Blair! I think this country has had one of the best PMs & greatest world leaders in Tony Blair! He will be hard to be replaced for the next 50 years!

    Thank you Nick for the unbiased article and analysis of his premiership & his style

    • 536.
    • At 10:21 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Richard Nalty wrote:

    Blair may have inherited a set of favourable circumstances and been relatively lucky during his premiership (Iraq aside), but the one glaring issue still essentially untackled is the Welfare State. The neets spoil what is otherwise a decent country. I wish Blair and Brown had read Charles Murray in the early 90’s. That said, Tony Blair has been brilliant internationally, and more than effective nationally – I can still remember high unemployment, awful rates of pay, terribly inadequate public services, etc. In some respects Blair has outstripped Maggie, and maybe we haven’t had it so good since MacMillan. The one issue that remains untackled, and continues to worsen is the alarming effect of the Welfare State – neets and broken families are ruining what is otherwise a decent country. David Cameron please take note.

    • 537.
    • At 11:13 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • vijay k vijayaratnam wrote:

    A country which had to be rescured from economic disaster by IMF during callagan era 3 decades ago, but under Tony Blair,UK is now one of the 4 top riches nations on earth.That is one of is legacies and many billionaires settled in UK as a result.

    • 538.
    • At 11:23 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Steve Mack wrote:

    Many have spoken of lies. I’m a salesman, paid by a company to sell its products. The products are pretty good, so I’m happy and confident to sell them. Selling them is presenting them in their best light, whilst admitting their faults.
    I don’t think Tony Blair has been caught in many lies.
    He may have been caught believing what he wants to believe, but we all do that, and it is different.
    Even in the case of the huge problem that is Iraq, he was the first Prime Minister to allow a vote in the commons on the prospect of war. Yes, he led the fight, no, there were no weapons of mass destruction – but he allowed the vote. Many who criticise now voted with him.
    All politicians should remember that they must lead. They are not followers of the majority in every thing they do – occasionally they must look ahead and do the unpopular thing. Sometimes they may be wrong. The courage that looking ahead takes should still be recognised.
    His government HAS spent more money on all the things we wanted, including and especially the National Health. We haven’t seen all the improvements we wanted. Tony Blair can take some blame for this. More goes to the ministers and managers. Some even goes to the staff on the front line. We all share – one person – except, of course, people like Saddam Hussein – cannot change the direction and mood of a country.
    Even immigration isn’t a problem we can lay fuolly at the governments door. Where I live the very people who complain about a country flooded with immigrants are those who pay cash, no questions ask (and no VAT) to people to undertake building work, or lay drives. Where do they think the “immigrant flood” gets its money from.
    Tony Blai has been wrong. He’s also been right. He has made the best of some choices, and the worst of others. He has, all told, been as human as I am. But he got up there and tried, and sometimes he got it right.
    That’s about the best we can all hope for.

    • 539.
    • At 11:41 PM on 10 May 2007,
    • Arranblonde wrote:

    Blair will be remembered for being one of the great British PMs. Introducing min wage. Keeping inflation and unemployment low. Strong economy and crime under control. Massive improvements to the NHS and education. Moving forward the NI peace process – being concerned for other peace processes and justice around the world.

    The whiners will look to foreign policy – Iraq. But even here I think he got it right – a country that had used weapons of mass destruction (chemical weapons against Kurds and Iranians), had invaded 2 neighbours (Iran and Kuwait) and fired missiles into a further 2 (Saudi and Isreal), and was given 10 year’s worth of grace but continually frustrated international efforts to monitor and control said weapons, is evidence enough.

    And as for spin …. this is no more than advertising. It only has a bad name since some journalists have been burned by it and wanted some revenge. It happens in every office / shop / factory in the country.

    • 540.
    • At 12:06 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • G. Easton wrote:

    Unbelievable. I have to say reading back on some of the comments in this thread I really do worry about our future as a nation.

    So many people are so quick to jump on the negative aspects of his leadership, that they are far to quick to forget his positivies. The minimum wage, unemployment down, the fact that climate change is now on the global agenda. These are real issues that effect the lives of 55 million Brits every day of every year. Yet you look at them and shrug your shoulders as if they mean nothing before you start shaking your fist in anger about Iraq.

    If you think decisions like that are easy then you should all go into policitcs. Im sure youd make excellent politicians and could easily have spotted that Saddam indeed had no WMD’s. Of course your not an expert on international terrosim, so if I (if I was an expert on such things) put down something on your desk that says “Iraq has WMD’s” what do you do? You wouldnt throw it in the bin, you would need to seriously conisder it to be accurate unless YOU went out to dig for WMD’s yourself.

    What really annoys me, is that what if we DIDNT go to Iraq. And at the end of May a bomb goes off at Wembley killing 10,000 people and its found to be from Iraq. You same people who cried out “invading Iraq was wrong” would be the same idiots to come back and shout “why didnt you invade Iraq when you had the chance”.

    Whilst I am not 100% happy with all Labour has done, I am happy to vote for them again come the general election time, simply because they are the only party who can serioulsy make changes to this country. Nobody or party is perfect, but Labour are a damm site better than the alternatives today.

    • 541.
    • At 12:16 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Michael Wilson wrote:

    I grew up in the Thatcher era and believe I was fortunate to do so. We had a powerful leader who was not afraid to fly in the face of public opinion, and one who changed the country for the better. I was gutted when TB came in to power. Here we had a simpering liar who made grand promises and failed to live up to most of them. He has increased bureaucracy in every level of the public sector and turned the country in to a nanny state where parents are even questioned on their ability to walk their own kids to school. He has mindlessly pandered to overseas interests and misled the public in to following him.
    I was lucky enough to leave the UK seven years ago and as such have been able to view the UK from an outsiders perspective and have seen the country change beyond recognition. I recently returned to the UK for an expo to attract people to work overseas and the of the hundreds we met the overiding reason for wanting to leave was that the country was going to the dogs with the blame squarely aimed at TB and his game playing spinners. GB will be no better. If only there had been an inoculation against this TB.

    • 542.
    • At 01:09 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Marcus A. Roberts wrote:

    Nick, if your number is right and it is 952 days since Blair promised to step down and he does in fact step down on June 27th then wouldn’t that be the 1000th day since he said he wouldn’t go “on and on and on”?

    • 543.
    • At 01:22 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Matthew Martin wrote:

    Nick

    Thanks for a very good analysis of Blair. The race which is far more interesting now is the deputy leader. So can we have soon an analysis of who really has the support of Labour MPs and who might win that ?

    • 544.
    • At 01:54 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • David Kettle wrote:

    Does anyone think there is a link between Glenn Roeder’s resignation from Newcastle United and the timing of Tony Blair’s announcement yesterday? Will our current PM be swapping 10 Downing Street for St James’ Park? The international spotlight for the Premiership floodlight? If so, we Magpie supporters can probably look forward to massive financial input to domestic playing staff which will be squandered by poor organization; and an unpopular and disastrous alliance with a team from the US (LA Galaxy and Mr. Beckham perhaps) which will leave us universally disliked! At least the Match of the Day interviews will be conducted with panache. Maybe he�ll be able to sell playing positions off to the highest bidding investors also. It might end up with a sort of �cash for the captaincy� or �money for midfield maestro� or �wonga for wing play� scandal.

    • 545.
    • At 02:13 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Jin Song wrote:

    Blair is the very best leader who has great visions. He has achieved
    so much that I cannot think any current leaders can match his ability.

    • 546.
    • At 04:17 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • george wrote:

    Andy Hart (483) sneers at the idea that Britain is a great nation. Well if it isn’t who is? Think of what we have given the world over the centuries and Tony Blair has given us back a sense of national greatness. Blair says we know it in our hearts and we do, even if we wouldn’t be caught dead admitting it.

    • 547.
    • At 06:38 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • alan wrote:

    10yrs as PM is an impressive achievement. His legacy? Its Gordon Brown (GB) and not a single other candidate (at present) for the party to select.
    Labour party managers will be consigning their party to the Wilderness years – GB is a flawed character, boorish,intellectually arrogant, obsessed with micro-managing and state control with high spending on unreformed public institutions and very little charisma and even less voter appeal. The Labour Party will deserve their come uppance for their failure in succession management

    • 548.
    • At 06:53 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Peter Singleton wrote:

    I think I can broadly agree with Nick Robinsons analysis of the Blair years. What shocks and also somewhat saddens me is the massive outpouring of vitriol and, lets call it by its name, of hatred towards Blair. Although his achievements are clear and undeniable, also well documented and accepted there are so many who are determined assert he has ruined the country. Perhaps being a conviction politician as Blair increasingly became, like Thatcher, simply means that you invite the anger of those who lose the arguement.With this in mind a more calm appraisal may only be possible once years have passed. Perhaps the experience of having Gordon Brown as Premier will have a sobering effect, and perhaps again like Thatcher Blair’s victories will only be really appreciated in retrospect

    • 549.
    • At 08:43 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • ian mcleod wrote:

    Public services – more and better paid staff? Come off it Nick, what planet are you on? I work in the public services and have seen my salary and many of my colleagues salaries reduced. My wife is a nurse -try telling her she’s been better paid and has more colleagues as a result of Blairs’ government.

    • 550.
    • At 09:27 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Peter Hindle wrote:

    If one accepts that Tony Blair “hand on heart” tried to do the right thing (and I do), a key question to ask is, “Why did he accept that there were weapons of mass destruction?”
    The answer is “poor management”.
    Clearly Blair is a leader; he is not a manager. He struggles with the nitty-gritty of making sure the data on which he makes his decisions is sound. He has not had strong enough managers close to him who would scrutinise the data and call out the conflicts within them.
    Blair’s personality has encouraged those working with him to give him the data he was expecting; to bury problem data.
    This is one of the most common effects strong leaders have on those around them. It is known as group think and was first recognised in a study of White House failures in the 1950s and 60s including the Bay of Pigs.
    The US Senate committee called it out in their report on Iraq; Hutton and, especially, Butler described the phenomenon without naming it.
    Clearly a leader cannot be expected to double-check everything; however, on such a crucial issue, a leader must be certain personally that conflicting views are reaching him/her.
    Often (as with Blix, Kelly) those with the conflicting data and views are relatively unskilled at breaking through the communication barriers that are raised by the group surrounding the leader. We saw that clearly with Blix on our TV screens; Kelly apparently realised he needed an amplifier. When his courageous attempts failed, he took his own life in despair.
    It is tragic that such “lessons of history” have to be re-learned.

    Tony Blair was one part of the best times in my life. Now that he is going away as a different person, I scarily feel my age too. Back in 1997, I believed he would make the world happier. Internet was going to boom and become the big thing – like it or lump it, the optimism was refreshing. Good times went on until the Millenium and then everyone became more serious. Damn, we were so naive 10 years ago. I still predict there will be plenty of nostalgia and may will miss him.

    • 552.
    • At 11:06 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • CHARLES BROWN wrote:

    So Tim #243, industry has been decimated and you blame Blair for that? The coal mines, British Leyland, textile industry ? They were all decimated by who again?
    House prices have become unaffordable? So 15% interest rates were affordable I take it then? Not forgetting the hugely popular Poll Tax
    We have become dependent on China ? Let me see now Nissan in Sunderland, Toyota in Derby ? Are they not foreign owned companies using British workers building excellent cars that we would and should have been building?
    The family has been destroyed etc, Might have something to do with high unemployment and negative equity, back in the days when, sorry who was our PM in the 80’s ?
    Immorality? Let�s not even go there with that one.
    Oh and Northern Ireland, a lot quieter these days, best ask the good people there which times they would rather be living in or would you like us to returned to bombs going off in our shopping centres both there and the main land ?
    The thing is, people quickly forget just how “good” things were in the so called affluent 80�s and 90�s , So good in fact, the Tories were voted out and we tend to vote out parties that give economical stability, low interest rates, massive investment to the NHS and schools and generally improve our Public Services don�t we? I however, remember how BAD things were and thank you to #55 �orraloon� whoever you may be for reminding us all. I suggest all you in the, �thank god he�s going� camp read those comments.

    • 553.
    • At 11:15 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Ralph wrote:

    Reminds me of the Fry and Laurie sketch about estate agents. Tony Blair, love him or loathe him, you’d be mad not to loathe him.

    • 554.
    • At 11:38 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Paul wrote:

    Tony has gone.

    Time will tell what his legacy will be. What is annoying though is the credit labour have taken for the economic rejuvenation of the UK over the last ten years. In 1979 this country was on the verge of collapse. Thatcher love her or hate her, halted that, and instituted policies that many European countries are only just following. Blair inherited a strong economy (economic fact), which allowed him to invest in social services. He was the “spoonful of sugar” of social justice after the “medicine” of Thatcher. The economic restructuring in the 80’s was necessary to lay the foundation for what Blair acheived. Unfortunately for the Tories they delivered the “bad news” but only started to reap the economic benefits by the mid-90’s- too late to change the public image of the party, and timed nicely for Blair. History will decide who had the real legacy.

    • 555.
    • At 11:38 AM on 11 May 2007,
    • Daniel wrote:

    Tony Blair was quite simply a man in the wrong job at the right time.
    In 1997, after many painful economic changes, (mainly brought about by Thatcher and for which she is despised to this day) the economy had become robust beyond any historical comparison. So robust in fact that it was possible for even an incompetent to take over without causing too much damage.
    ENTER TONY BLAIR.
    Desperate to impress but scared to actually take the wheel, Tony Blair spent his early years in the cockpit blindly flicking switches and pulling levers, trying to look good and praying nothing to devastating would happen.
    ENTER IRAQ
    Disappointed with the fickle British publics ever increasing suspicion, Blair decided to gather up his nerves, show his worthiness and finally take the wheel. Problem is, he did so under the instruction of a rather more dangerous incompetent, an incompetent who’d never been content with merely levers and switches, an incompetent who liked to loop’d’loop, fly backwards and shout ‘yeeeehaaaaaa, look, no hands!’.
    Without Iraq I�m sure Tony Blair could have bluffed his way through his premiership using his old’n trusted ‘call a spade a fork’ routine. (I mean judging by some of the comments above it’s still working the hard-core fan base.)
    But in the end, and acting skills apart, he was a man way out of his depth and far better gone. I’m just wiping the sweat from my brow, taking a sigh of relief and preying that the scariest flight I�ve ever been on is finally over!

    • 556.
    • At 12:00 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • Victor, NW Kent wrote:

    If I put some money into savings, or buy gold or purchase a house then I have made an investment.
    If I take the same amount and spend it on wine or overseas trips or gambling then I have not invested it, I have spent it or wasted it.

    To talk of unprecedented “investment” in hospitals is silly when the hospitals are financed by the extravagant future debt of PFI schemes. The investment in education is funded in the same way. Most of the additional payments go to management and management consultants or into the pockets of investors. That is why the NHS is in state of boom or bust. That is why nurses, who were awarded a pay increase only just over the rate of inflation, cannot even have it now – they must wait [but not in Scotland].
    Mr Blair and Mr Brown enjoyed free University education but they have not passed that benefit on to those who voted for them. Remember “We will not introduce top-up fees, we will legislate against them”?

    So, what do we have? – a brutal and unproductive war in Iraq and 10 years of sleight-of-hand and adroit patter.

    • 557.
    • At 12:22 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • joshua wrote:

    Tony Blair has been a very great leader. He has led this country through strong economic stability for ten years. No need reminding ourselves of all the details. He has been a Prime Minister that cares for the bread and butter issues facing the ordinary person. I see him as very compassionate. But he is only human. He had his own weaknesses. But looked at very carefully, some of these mistakes were issues he personally felt passionate about as a human being. He is therefore forgiven by many on that score. Let us not forget that Tony had his own personal beliefs before coming into politics. Much as he knew he was personally responsible for any mishaps in policy in governments, any unpopular decisions he took must have been weighed carefully. No matter what the Tories may think, Tony has a great record to be broken only in the future. As to whether they (the Tories) can match that remains another issue. Let us give praise where parise is due. Tony has given a good account of his stewardship in government. He is my mentor. God bless him.

    • 558.
    • At 01:59 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • ian wrote:

    To all those suporters of Tony Blair I’d recommend they have a look at the BBC Have Your Say item ‘How will Tony Blair be remembered’. Very telling.

    • 559.
    • At 03:28 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • J Westerman wrote:

    Many of the above should be required to insert at the beginning of their criticism “We admit that the Iraq war was the one the Tories voted for”
    We could then see how much common sense, if any, there is in the remainder of their criticism.

    • 560.
    • At 03:47 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • Adam wrote:

    Tony Blair as much as i hated him for siding with amercica, and for some of his parties policies i have to take my hat off to him, simply for the fact that he said he did what he thought was right, it takes alot to say “i may have been wrong, but i did what i believed to be right and just”. most people say that going to Iraq was the worst thing this country has done in a long time and they lay the blame at his feet, i personaly disdain war and think that any death is uunnesicary (excuse my spelling). yet the good that removing saddam and removing most of the taliban from the most important areas of afganistan is astounding. Plus Tony Blairs attitude towards world povety, his drive for africa and his pure honest emotion over the losses suffered at both at 9/11 and at 7/7. some say he is the king of spin, it is my personal beleif that his parties lack of support and the schemming of MR Brown that led to his inevitable downfall.
    Love him or hate him he has down what he thought was best for this great country and through blunders and blight he has helped to maintain this country and not only that he has brought us forward economically and has helped place us as a world leader and not a follower

    • 561.
    • At 03:47 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • J Westerman wrote:

    The sadistic element in the British character seems to love to drag down the successful, and the more the success the more the accompanying venom.
    We should be a little careful on this occasion. A front bench of Eton schoolboys is lurking in the background professing sweetness and humanity of the kind some of us have experienced and would not like to experience again.

    .

    • 562.
    • At 05:24 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • Adam wrote:

    He’s done a brilliant job in throwing away hard earnt tax payers money. He has kept the UK defence industry going almost single handedly with the number of wars he’s started. He’s allowed his wife to model free clothes for the benefit of the clothing industry. He’s promoted overseas travel by being a holiday scout for the super rich. He’s now going to embark on a book writing career that is going to net him a fortune doing what he loves best – the self-promotion of Anthony Blair. He’s going to promote air travel and the art of getting the free upgrade during the next year on his tour of the USA (nothing less than 1st class for an economy priced ticket). Carbon footprint – “what’s that, I’m not in office anymore” – I’m evading the police in their enquiry over some cash for a prize out his personal trinket box (CBE, OBE, MBE, what would you like?). David Kelly – I thought was the secret codename for Chaff. Peace in Northern Ireland – certain areas are still playing that most competitive of sports “catch this rock/cocktail copper, it’s our turf” – whilst writing his memoirs he could probably come up with a name for it, something Gaelic perhaps. Yep – he’s done a fine job. We now have to pay for his protection for the rest of his life, so yep, you’ve guessed it, in 10/20/30 years time you’re not just paying for his pension, but also his whole security detail it’s not good riddence yet.

    • 563.
    • At 09:35 PM on 11 May 2007,
    • Terry wrote:
    Come off it, Adam! Why applaud someone who promised so much and then had to admit that he couldn’t quite cut the mustard? What Tony’s saying is that a lot (but by no means all)the horrible things he said about the other lot was all hot air – because in point of fact, he could do no better! And on the issue of Saddam – remember this: if Saddam hadn’t been so daft, and in fact allowed the UN inspectors unbridled access to all his facilities, then – as Tony said himself before the war – there would have been no war, ie Saddam could have remained in power! Revisionism is a great talent – but it does rely on people having short memories.

    • 564.
    • At 04:23 AM on 12 May 2007,
    • steve stefani wrote:

    Mr Tony Blair, didn’t do anything for Britian, his government rode the crest of the wave created by Margaret Thatcher, the economic benefits of Thatcher reforms were and are still enormous. We are all as a whole still benefiting from our increase standard of living thanks to Thatcher. As far as Iraq is concerned, Thatcher would not have done to war without the full authority of the UN. Reading books on her, clearly indicates this is how she operated, always with the backing of some democratic vote of authority, either from mandate’s at elections or acting with full authority and force from the UN, concerning the Falkland’s War.
    History will judge Blair as media spin manipulator.

    • 565.
    • At 07:51 AM on 13 May 2007,
    • Vijay K Vijayaratnam wrote:

    Tony Blair as a great communicator would be missed since he is only in his fifities yet there were asian leaders in their seventies and eighites in power in the past.Who knows once he made enough money,he may be tempted to be back due to popular demand like Wm Hague.
    In any case he would be remembered along Churchill(for world war 2),Thatcher (collapse of soviet union and as iron lady laid the foundation for economic prosperity of UK ) for end of sadam’s dictatorship and brought democracy to Iraq,peace in Nothern Ireland olympic 2012 and war in eastern europe to liberate Kosovo among many other.He had the ability to read the mood of the nation and indeed the world whether it was the death of Lady Diana,9/11 or 7/7 or when he had to step down as PM.I also remember his ability to forgive mistakes of his ministers and give them another one or two chances in other ministerial posts.Wish him well for his future.

    • 566.
    • At 10:21 AM on 14 May 2007,
    • J Westerman wrote:

    Throughout many generations, the Tory party and its media have always been the masters of “spin”.
    Their labelling of Tony Blair’s statements as “spin” has been their greatest piece of “spin” to date.

    • 567.
    • At 01:36 AM on 16 May 2007,
    • Paul B wrote:

    Tony Blair is one of the finest Prime Ministers in British history. His government introduced social reform such as the minimum wage and tax credits. They reduced child and pensioner poverty, saw through record economic growth and introduced new childcare initatives. They banned smoking in public places, gave gay people the right to marry, and banned fox hunting. They introduced the Literacy and Numeracy hour and standards have improved. School results are better. Waiting lists and health care has improved. Not to mention the huge investment in schools and hospitals. A-Levels were divided and new qualifications were introduced.

    These are just some of the reforms that a Blair government has acheived in ten years. It is something I don’t believe a Conservative government could or will ever do.

    Thankyou, our Tony. You are our great statesman. You have led with courage and distinction. And, even when you have come under fire, you have shown your true character.

    You can now sit alongside Atlee (Our best PM EVER) as one of our best PMs ever.

    Lets hope Gordon can take Tony’s reforms further.

    Good luck Gordon!

    • 568.
    • At 09:34 PM on 20 May 2007,
    • John Constable wrote:

    I get the impression that being PM does not in reality deliver as much power as the people might think, to the incumbent.

    Some would say that it is harsh to judge Tony Blair by the current outcome in Iraq compared to all the ‘good’ things he may have delivered on elsewhere (but not social mobility which unbelieveably has actually declined under a Labour Government).

    However, politics punishes you heavily when you miscalculate.

    Aussie Premier John Howard showed exactly how to ‘play’ a situation like Iraq, both from the political and military perspective, and the result is (so far) zero Aussie military dead, unlike our tally of over 100.

    If I was Tony Blair, that would prey on my mind a lot over the years to come.

    Thanks Nick, for this.

    You are so right in just about all that you’ve said. I’m not reading your 500-odd comments because many of them are likely to be full of vitriol, and life’s too short. But the number of responses just shows the interest Tony Blair raises and will probably continue to raise out of office.

    I will miss him not just because he was unique or because of all the stardust stuff (what am I saying – “was” as though he’s dead!) – but because I really DO think he has been a great prime minister.

    Any of you who have visited my blog will know that I am NOT a Labour member or supporter. But the guy’s a political genius, who is nonetheless as flawed as the rest of us, and yes, got a few things wrong. He doesn’t walk on water.

    I DON’T think he got Iraq wrong, btw, but I am concerned that he hasn’t beeen able to explain or persuade us WHY exactly it needed to be done. The world is more aware of the terrorist problems now, when we might well have had to wait until such people were stronger still to understand. Even for that we should be grateful. No-one is saying we should be grateful for the dead; no-one. But in time perhaps it’ll look different.

    Anyway, thanks for your balanced commentary on Blair over the years, Nick. I always know that when you speak or write about Tony Blair you are talking about a man first, a politician second.

    You’re one of the few political commentators who seems to understand this.

    • 570.
    • At 11:46 AM on 24 May 2007,
    • Michael McFarlane wrote:

    Well I’m almost 75 years old and have voted Labour for as long as I can remember, and I think Tony Blair and New Labour have/are a disgrace. As for “Spin” and “Celebrity”;, I think your profession has been responsible for that. Only in the last 15-20 years have I realised how badly we are served by our reporting media, and how widely recognized this now is.

    • 571.
    • At 10:56 AM on 04 Jun 2007,
    • David Hatchett, east London wrote:

    Tony Blair arguably achieved a lot both for the country and the Labour Party. He turned the Labour Party around from an unelectable party left in the wilderness, to a party which won three consecutive elections. Think also about the progress the country has made in the last ten years – the reform to the public sector, coupled with significant economic growth (historically unusual under Labour administrations), low inflation and interest rates, which in turn have enabled record investment in public services. His focus on social justice has underpinned all of his reforms.

    Whilst he will be remembered for issues such as Iraq and his relationship with America, it is important not to forget the progress that has been made at home and how much the country has moved on under his leadership.

    • 572.
    • At 09:44 AM on 05 Jun 2007,
    • Jon F wrote:

    Paul B,

    Atlee really? You sir are deluded. How about Disraeli? Gladstone? Pitt? Churchill? Thatcher?

    Just because they are a Labour Prime Minister does not make them the best of all time.

    • 573.
    • At 01:44 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
    • J Westerman wrote:

    The problem with Tony Blair is that he is prepared to risk leaving us with David Cameron.
    David appears to be a very nice man but apparently thinks that riding a bike to work ,followed by his brief case in a chauffeur driven car, makes the Tories green. Perhaps that is doing him an injustice: he may just think that voters are green..
    Tony has also failed to tell us about the new front bench of Eton schoolboys that is so anxious to improve the public services in a way that that previous Eton schoolboys regarded as encouraging the unwashed to think they should have proper medical care. It is nice to know, however, how much Eton has changed in the last 10 years.

    • 574.
    • At 03:48 PM on 16 Jun 2007,
    • glyn williams wrote:

    I cannot agree that Blair has not been forced out. New Labour realised a long time ago the magnitude of the damage Blair’s style of government has done to the country and to the trust the general public has in politicans. This country, in terms of being at ease with itself, is now just a complete mess. It will take generations, if ever, to get back to some normality. One thing is for sure, Blair and his cronies will just carry on milking the system, particulalrly those who have carried on a class war all their political lives. We will see them pop up, well heeled with fat pensions, in the House of Lords and other places they claimed to despise.

    • 575.
    • At 09:17 PM on 16 Jun 2007,
    • Comic Shop Guy wrote:

    Worst PM ever!!

    • 576.
    • At 06:25 AM on 18 Jun 2007,
    • Martin wrote:

    I am not English. I think Blair did his best for a country he cares passionately about. He seems to have helped the Labour Party’s chances of being elected and re-elected.

    I have great difficulty with those who knock EVERY thing Blair did or tried to do.

    He was far from perfect and the man acknowledged as much in his departure speech. A man who questioned authority in his youth will understand those who questioned his.

    In the words of Cesar Borgia “THus things proceed in their circle, and the empire is maintained’.

    • 577.
    • At 08:13 PM on 20 Jun 2007,
    • Phil wrote:

    Of course Blair has been forced out.

    Money is no longer an issue to him but he cannot buy the trappings of a PM.
    Police (not pcso) bodyguards
    police (not licensing authority) escorts for his vehicle wherever he goes as PM – no stopping at traffic lights for him it might be dangerous!
    Always using the NHS – he has to have priority along with his family for security. – No waits in A & E for the Blairs!
    No waiting at airports – charter a plane – its only tax payers money
    All expenses at his multi million pound home paid – security again – its only tax payers money
    The list goes on and on, but next week he may have money but Gordon won’t let him have any power – thats what he’ll miss.

    • 578.
    • At 01:44 AM on 26 Jun 2007,
    • Victor Nwoko wrote:

    How best can a leader be assessed? Who can best perform the assessment without bias? Obviously, those with vested interest cannot be trusted with this assignment as well as those ignorant of the facts. A leader’s assessment sheet must account for the failures and triumphs, actions and inactions, and the state of affairs before, during and after his exit. Tony Blair is a remarkable leader loved and hated, cheered and demonized. One cannot take away his place in history and only time will assess him without bias.

    • 579.
    • At 10:29 AM on 27 Jun 2007,
    • George Montgomery wrote:

    Tony Blair did well to complete the peace process in Northern Ireland, and I thank him for that.

    But in the end he had to go because his other non-delivered targets in domestic and foreign policy gradually caught up with him and no one was listening to the excuses anymore. His leadership lost it’s way and the sound-bite politian became to easily lead by other more powerful forces.

    • 580.
    • At 11:50 AM on 27 Jun 2007,
    • Ken Watson wrote:

    It’s a great shame that Tony Blair’s numerous successes whilst in power will be greatly overshadowed by his monumental error of judgment on Iraq.

    The unjustified decision to go to war has destabilised Iraq for the foreseable future causing untold suffering for years to come.

    Not such a great item to have on one’s CV. I am sure it will not affect his future career or book deals though.

    • 581.
    • At 05:23 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
    • dave wrote:

    We can never forgive Tony Blair for joining the US in invading Iraq, most people think he lied. His government has been so incompetent and dishonest that the country is now an unpleasant and an unsafe place to live in. The quality of education has declined and don’t get sick or old.

    • 582.
    • At 06:03 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
    • Phil allsopp wrote:

    I am shocked (but shouldn’t be after 10 years of it) at all the labour activist posts on this page e.g. #375
    What ‘collapsed economy’? Maybe he is thinking of the 1979 Callahan govt.
    “Where children feel inspired to learn by great teachers” – have you been to a school recently and seen what is really happening there – I have and it ain’t a pretty sight.
    An NHS with waiting times cut – sure, you can’t book an appointment with a GP more than 48 hours into the future as it’ll look bad on the reports, being put on a list to see a consultant before you get onto a real waiting list, making sick people wait in the car park in an ambulance because the timer for the report starts only when the patient actually enters A&E and so on and so on; stories that x number of new hospital beds were put in place without mentioning that the same number of old ones were removed – i.e. no more capacity, just newer beds.
    Blair is all about tax and spin. Sounded nice – but there is no substance, and Iraq – people have no idea – hundreds of thousands dead because we went there… think about it – if some other country invaded the UK and just shot your family and friends in the name of oil and their leader said, “Well, I thought it was a good idea at the time so let’s move on…”, how would you feel ? Think !

    • 583.
    • At 06:17 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
    • Phil allsopp wrote:

    Aren’t we all bothered by all the twaddle on here or are well too embroiled in a spin culture now ?

    On 1st May 1997, the date of the general election that brought tony blair to power, the interest rate was 5.94%.

    There are way too many interested parties on this page waffling about 15% rates under the last tory govt as if it were always 15%.

    Here is the link to the Bank of England’s site so you can see facts for yourself and not read the spin on here.

    http://213.225.136.206/mfsd/iadb/Repo.asp?Travel=NIxIRx

    • 584.
    • At 11:32 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
    • Beau Nidl wrote:

    Blair`s Achievements

    Education Grade Inflation: 2005 A Level Maths Grade C A equivalent to a 1988 Grade F. (Dr Robert Coe, Univ Durham).

    Immigation: 10% of UK population are first generation immigrants (OCED report).

    Terrorism: Threat higher than during worst IRA years due to Iraq tensions.

    Housing: House prices most unaffordable for a century. Rents also high.

    Heritage: Historic town centres being destroyed faster than during WWII to make space for high density housing.

    NHS: Fewer NHS dentists than ever.

    Recreation: Open spaces being converted to high density housing at record levels.

    Crime: 7 street murders in 3 days. Record levels of gang membership with no punishments for supporters, those who withold evidence, contribute to overall threat, or fail to call for medical assistance.

    Safety: Dams and river defences collapsing in heavy rain. Death and destruction to property.

    Bancruptcy: Record levels.

    Culture: English a minority language in many urban areas.

    Rights: Automatic deportation for alledged offences in Europe and USA without evidence being tested in UK courts. Can apply to minor offences that could be tried in UK.

    Children: Record numbers of children on the DNA database, including some under the age of criminal responsibility.

    Religion: Church attendance at an all time low.

    Palestine: Civil war.

    International Relations: Knighthood for Rushdie destroyed thaw with Iran, and damaged relations with Pakistan.

    Countryside: Villages forced to turn into small towns (planning consent cannot be refused). Small towns forced turn into large ones.

    Emplyment: Rover. Post Office. Foreign call centres.

    Economy: What does the UK actually make any more ? How long before other countries provide better or cheaper international bank services ?

    Respect for MPs and Government: Mandelson. Prescott. Cash for Honours.

    NHS: Hospital visits now typically involve payment for parking and premium rate phone calls to/from patients. Get the sick, elderly and scared to pay.

    Pensions: Final salary schemes closing rapidly. Return on investment halved. Risk transferred to individuals who are not stock market experts.

    Tax: Higher.

    I have to say that I am glad he has gone but at least he went with dignity, unlike Thatcher. Her cabinet forced her from office in 1990. And he went when he said he would this year.

    • 586.
    • At 11:00 PM on 01 Jul 2007,
    • J Westerman wrote:

    Beau Nidi 28 June 2007 re Mr Blair’s achievements..

    And people who criticize in a highly selective one-sided manner and on the basis of very doubtful interpretations.

    • 587.
    • At 11:20 PM on 01 Jul 2007,
    • J Westerman wrote:

    Tony Blair saw the point that made the Tories support him in voting for war in Iraq.
    Hostile people in control of the Middle East, before we have alternative power supplies, could put our industry onto a one-day week whenever it suited them to do so.
    Those who now use the war for the purposes of character assassination are, in my opinion, both deceitful and unpatriotic.

    • 588.
    • At 10:13 AM on 10 Jul 2007,
    • J Westerman wrote:

    Re Beau Nidl 28 Jun 2007

    I had a bad cold about a year ago do you think that Tony could have been personally responsible for that?

    Regards
    JW

    This post is closed to new comments.




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    2 Responses to “10 May, 2007 – Nick Robinson on Tony Blair’s Long Goodbye”

    1. political satire songs Says:

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      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

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