The FT: A central European diplomat says that Tony Blair, although not presently favourite for EU president, ‘may come back’ as ‘nothing is excluded.’
Comment at end
8th November, 2009
In case readers get the impression that this is the only blog out there in support of Tony Blair, it’s time to mention a few others.
And just as a reminder, there follows just some of the reasons WHY his supporters remain loyal. I don’t purport to speak for all the opinions on Tony Blair of all the below-mentioned, of course. But it seems fair to suggest that at least some of these reasons apply in most of these cases. If not, I’m sure they’ll correct me.
First the WHO.
Later (here) the WHY.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE BLOGGERS FOR BLAIR?
1. There’s the Blair Foundation Blogspot – Recent post Europygmies V EU President Blair, Round 2. Another recent post – Full text: Cameron speech on EU – So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. And the latest, Europygmies Round 3, is here.
Blair Foundation Blogspot links to this reference to the EU’s representation on the IMF Board being reduced to ONE. A suggestion of the EU federalist and present prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker. This man also happens to be a candidate for the EU presidency; useful to know where he’s coming from and where he’d like to take us.
2. Here at the excellent Against Mainstream Opinion, Puschiii’s present post is titled “The Superstar and the Nobodies”.
3. Would you Buy it For a Quarter has various writers, on various topics. Caela, one of their contributors, is a strong Blair supporter.
There are even mainstream journalists whose pro-Blair credentials are frequently on show. Of these Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul is pre-eminent. Samples of his writings here – Did Blair betray Britain – answer “No” and here – Cameron is the New Blair.
Rentoul along with Oliver Kamm – Europe’s runners and riders – and Stephen Pollard all signed the Ban Blair-Baiting petition (at the Iraq Inquiry). For me, that marks them out as good guys amongst the generally severely infected ranks of the feral beasts of the British press.
MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
To be quite frank I am astonished, although perhaps I shouldn’t be, that there is only one MP – Tom Harris – who makes it clear repeatedly that he is a Blair Supporter. Recently he wrote on Blair, Cameron & Europe. Tom too signed the Ban Blair-Baiting petition. Presumably the rest of the Labour party would just love to see Blair “baited”!
Alastair Campbell’s blog’s raison d-etre, in common with the other above-named journalists, is not specifically in order to support his old friend. But he does so on many occasions, such as here and here.
WHY his supporters think Blair is the right man to be the first permanent EU Council president.
Re-telling the work he did as Prime Minister will never convince those whose opining pales in comparison to Blair’s action. That’s par for the course. But for the more rational among us it is clear that the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, the devolution settlements to Scotland and Wales and his public finance initiatives in health and education will all be lasting monuments.
On becoming leader in 1994 Tony Blair set about rescuing his party from 18 years in the wilderness. Even before becoming PM he had ditched Clause 4.
Watch and hear Blair here in 1990 when he was Shadow Employment Secretary. Disregard for a moment the rights & wrongs of the ‘closed shop’ debate. Listen to how the masterful Blair frames his attack on then Employment Secretary Michael Howard. Tony Blair, seven years away from becoming PM says, “.. it is wrong because it looks back not forward. We cannot address the challenges of the future through the prejudices of the past.” Ring any bells in today’s EU argument?
Tony Blair vs. Michael Howard January 1990
In 1997 he went on to win a landslide victory taking seats the Labour party could only ever have dreamt of under any other leader. This was followed by a second landslide in 2001, but only after Blair had set in train the settlement of the decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland, which was to take all of his ten years as Prime Minister to complete.
Internationally Tony Blair helped lead the battle to free Muslims from Christian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. He rescued thousands from brutal attacks including limb-chopping, rape and murder in Sierra Leone in 2000.
After 9/11, 2001 Blair stood by America’s side, as ANY British Prime Minister would and should have done. Britain, was a first mover, true, but was only one of DOZENS of countries to stand by the USA. Blair’s Britain was NOT alone in supporting “Bush’s America” in its attack in Afghanistan, much as those of selective memories like to claim it was.
And as for Iraq – the same applied.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq, (from March 20 to May 1, 2003) was led by the United States, backed by British forces and smaller contingents from Australia, Denmark, Poland and Spain. Four countries participated with troops during the initial invasion phase, which lasted from March 20 to May 1. These were the United States (248,000), United Kingdom (45,000), Australia (2,000), and Poland (194). 36 other countries were involved in its aftermath.
Some insist that the Iraq invasion was a failure, disaster, or whatever choice descriptive word fits their own agendas. In fact it seems to be dawning on many that in intent, motivation and in outcome it was by far the more successful of the two Middle East wars that the west has recently become engaged in.
It is extremely odd and peculiarly unbalanced how Blair’s interventions which resulted in peace are seldom recognised in anything like the same terms as these two ‘wars of choice’ are. Presumably if they had all been over in a fortnight, all would have been AOK.
NOBEL PRIZE STILL OUTSTANDING
Mr Obama got one, though what for WHO knows. I certainly don’t. But for his efforts in several parts of the world, for our former PM, zilch recognition from this quarter. This is a shameful omission.
THE PRO-ACTIVE FORMER PRIME MINISTER
Since stepping down from office, Mr Blair has been uniquely pro-active. In fact his naysayers find his ‘boundless energy’ irritating. Envious, embittered armchair generals and opiners? Certainly NOT deciders.
From his Sports Foundation in the north of England, which has already funded coaches and children in sports, to his Faith Foundation set up to bring faiths together, Mr Blair has been dynamic. In fact he’s the dynamos’ dynamo.
He takes the expected and clearly envious flak for the fact that he is highly prized and rewarded as a public speaker and as an adviser to business. At the same time he has become a professor at Yale university on Faith and Globalisation.
In fact I contend it would be difficult to invent a character so complex and so successfully busy, and sell such a story as fiction.
For years, and perhaps particularly since leaving office, he has led the climate change debate WORLDWIDE. He is now a leading light in The Climate Group.
What does Jet-Li have to say about the other contenders for the EU presidency? Might I suggest, ‘Er … who?’
In fact what does the EU and the world have to say about the other candidates’ commitment to ANY of the world’s important causes? The very idea that some in the EU think Blair is NOT the right man for this job is mind-boggling.
Jet Li and Tony Blair launch 1000 village plan to tackle climate change (Aug 2009)
Pictures from Jet Li’s site – Alive, not Dead
And here, on 4th November Mr Blair spells out the critical importance of Copenhagen at the recent Queensland Climate Summit
Tony Blair urges investment in Rwanda and Sierra Leone at the ‘Private Equity in Africa’ Summit
QUARTET ENVOY TO THE MIDDLE EAST
Mr Blair got this job before he left Downing Street. But, despite a lot of good work on the streets and with business and infrastructure projects, some of which have been held up for months by the Israelis, Mr Blair does not and never did have the power to bring peace to the troubled Israeli/Palestine conflict. He was never a “peace negotiator” and so has not ‘failed’ in that task.
In a dreadful and misleading article at The Guardian George Monbiot repeated the much-abused description of Tony Blair as “the Middle East peace envoy”. In fact the Quartet’s statement of his appointment showed that his mandate was to encourage foreign investment in Palestine and related matters. His job was not to run, organise or push in political terms the peace process.
But as many Americans say that Obama has failed, failed, failed in the Middle East, Blair is still blamed by some for not yet having solved the issues on his little ownsome. After all, ordinary mortals have been trying to resolve it for the last 60 years. What’s taking SuperBlair so long?
On Thursday, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would stand down in January, and today, despite being urged to change his mind by Israel’s Peres, he is talking about dismantling the PA and declaring the peace process over.
In 2012 the eyes of the world will be on London’s Olympic Games. Whose legacy is this? One guess? Without Mr Blair’s relentless input this would clearly never have been won. Mr Obama couldn’t do it recently for America, but Mr Blair did it for Britain.
THE EU ‘PRESIDENCY’
The burning issue right now is whether Mr Blair will, or even should take the post of the first president of the EU Council. It is clear where I stand on this. There is no real alternative. And even if there were A N Other who was tackling important concerns like the climate and religious issues, few would have Blair’s experience or high profile and perhaps above all his unmatched communication skills.
GORDON BROWN IS STRUGGLING IN ALL LEADERSHIP ARENAS
It was ever thus, of course. But Blair’s leadership abilities have been even clearer to see in comparison to Brown since he left office, love him or loathe him.
Unlike Blair, Gordon Brown has always been unable to explain coherently our engagement in Afghanistan. It was exactly the same over Iraq. I do not recall the forces’ chiefs criticising Blair’s leadership as they do Brown.
Talk at the Telegraph is that on Monday the news may be that Belgium’s (until now unknown) Prime Minister, Van-Rompuy may learn that he has clinched the EU presidency. We’ll see.
This 1st November article at The Times raises some interesting thoughts as to the ins-and-outs of deciding the EU presidency. Ignore the commenters. Their antipathy towards Blair will hold no water as more light and less heat is cast upon the issues.
Meanwhile at Gleneagles – BROWN’S FINANCIAL SURPRISE & CLIMATE AGREEMENT FAILURE
At the G20 in St Andrews Gordon Brown is not getting as much support as he’d like. From Canada and more importantly from the USA on Brown’s plans for a financial transaction levy the US Treasury Secretary Timothy Gethner responded with a big “no, no”. The British Bankers Association says this 30 year-old idea is not a runner, since it would be impossible to get ALL countries on board.
Something tells me that if he were still Prime Minister Mr Blair would NEVER have suggested this policy.
As for the G20’s hopes for a climate agreement – er – well, nothing. Bodes well for Copenhagan, doesn’t it?
Which brings me back to the main reason many of us support Tony Blair – political nous, high profile in the important issues and the LEADERSHIP to advance the agenda.
- 1. Kiss of death for Cameron? Claire Short and Tony Benn think the Tories are in tune with THEM! You couldn’t – no you really couldn’t – make this up!
- 2. Popularity – Sarkozy is presently only polling 39% as in this Telegraph article where a popular French politician has been told to fermer la bouche, or ‘shut your gob’ in the ‘French’ colloquial.
- 3. It seems that 16% of Germans wish they’d voted ‘differently’ in their recent elections. For whom, it doesn’t say. Maybe most wish they HAD voted for Merkel. But whatever, it shows that politicians’ popularity can go down as well as up. It puts Blair’s ‘support’ (which is still substantial compared to Brown’s present support) as EU president into perspective.
- 4. And as Gordon Brown like the rest of us, awaits leadership from America on Afghanistan, Mr Blair Obama says on his health policy – ‘the hand of history is on our shoulder’. Original, eh?
- 5. Blair’s last throw of the dice for presidency
- 6. Miliband remains in frame amid “secret talks”
Tags: Afghanistan, Africa Initiative good governance, alastair campbell, Angela Merkel, ban blair baiting, Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, Blair Climate Group, Blair Supporters, French President, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Obama, Oliver Kamm, stephen pollard, Tom Harris MP, Tony Blair