Tony Blair on Mideast talks and phone-hacking scandal

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15th July 2011

[Best ignore the several explosive sounds in the background. Probably studio mishaps rather than external (Jerusalem) events!]

Discussed in this 14 mins video: 1. Middle East, 2. EU economy . 3. Hacking & News International

Tony Blair Says Mideast Talks May Be Relaunched Before September (Bloomberg)

If the Palestinians declare a state at the UN in September Mr Blair thinks it simply wouldn’t work from both Palestinian and Israeli sides, for different reasons. He also thinks we need to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian issues otherwise turmoil in Arab Spring situation could intervene for the worse.

From around 9m 5s he is asked about News International and the phone hacking scandal. He responds “sure” when asked if he would be willing to give evidence in the upcoming inquiry. 

Interviewer: “Do you think that politicians and media proprietors have been too close in the past?”

Blair: “I’ve been in this position and I made a speech myself about just over four years ago now, just before I left office saying this whole issue to do with the media and the way it operates today, and politicians and public life has to be examined and debated.  I think we’ve got a chance to do that. But this is for me a lot more than just about News International, a lot more than just the practice of phone hacking. It’s about how in a media world that is actually  undergoing its own revolution and in circumstances where politicians in the end – they can only  get their message across through the media – it’s time this relationship was examined in all its different aspects and we tried to end up with some sort of principles of guidance as to how this relationship can be more healthy and better for the public, cos in the end the public interest is served by a healthy, free, independent media but also politicians that feel that there is some fairness that goes with the way that the media handles itself.”

[…]

Interviewer: “Do you feel that you’ve been wronged by News International? Yesterday we were just hearing from Gordon Brown that the relationship between News International and Labour was never cosy or comfortable?”

Blair: “None of these relationships are comfortable. […] at one level  the relationship between media and politics is never going to be comfortable and shouldn’t be […] the issue is more this – that in circumstances where the media becomes very powerful and where the media as it were, let’s say it has its own agenda that goes alongside the news reporting, then it makes it very difficult for politicians. So I think […]  I think it’s high time to get all these issues out in the open, debate them and then we’ll come to a more sensible view of the future.”

At around 11mins Mr Blair is asked –  “have you had a call from the police asking you these questions …?”

Blair:  “No, but I think this inquiry gives us a chance to go into everything really and I think it’s sensible to do it. […] This is something, as I say, I think it was literally in the months just before I left, I made a speech about the media and its relationship to modern politics.  I think it’s a huge issue by the way not just in respect of Britain, and because of the way the media is changing and because you’ve got 24 hour a day 7 day a week media, you’ve got a whole set of new technologies coming with it… it’s always sensible when the world is changing to find some point at which you take stock of what these changes mean…”

Interviewer: “Would you be willing to take part in an inquiry or actually share your thoughts…?”

Blair:  “Sure, I mean look – this is something I’ve already shared my thoughts on it at some length some years ago but also constantly this has been a theme of mine and I think the right way to look at this is not as I say just to focus on News International or phone hacking – there are big issues in relation to both of these things – this is about more than that, and by the way one part of this is also I think the relationship between the news media today and the kind of blogosphere and the new social media, it’s all about what we should keep uppermost in our mind is what is in the interest of public in the end and in the interest of the public is that they get proper, objective, responsible news reporting by a fearless and free and independent media with politicians feeling nonetheless that their words are going to be fairly reported and not distorted and so that the relationship between the two is better.”

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Blair’s speech on Feral Beasts (June 2007)

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Recent comments:

I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)

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The greatest and most successful leader the Labour Party has ever had with the courage to fight the Islamist terrorists who really would like to kill us all, and you never hear a good word about him. The herd of independent minds, commentators, activists etc who have never had to make a difficult decision in their lives drown out all debate with their inane chants of war crimes and blood on his hands. Defend him at every chance. I just wish more people would do it. (Glasgow, UK)
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Blair was the greatest Labour Prime Minister. It is a disgrace that the party has turned away from his legacy. Shame on Ed Miliband and his so-called ‘new generation’.

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