Blair Interviews Since Leaving Office
Comment at end of page
21st November, 2007
SINGAPORE STUDENTS LISTEN TO BLAIR
A report on a speech on 8th November in Singapore by Tony Blair, which was little reported at home.
COMMENT AT THE SITE IS NOT ALL THAT ENTHUSIASTIC – BUT THEY ARE STUDENTS, AFTER ALL! SO THEY HAVE AN EXCUSE
“You may be a reluctant globaliser, but you are a globaliser nonetheless,” said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
He spoke to a full house at the National University of Singapore University Cultural Centre on Nov. 9.
Globalisation is the crux of his speech The Crisis in Global Governance: Challenges and Solutions. He gave examples such as the Kosovo Crisis, Asian Economic Crisis and the US sub prime market crisis to show how intricately connected the world is in today’s context.
“Globalisation is a fact. Opening up to it is the only sensible course,” Blair said.
“[We] have to come together to find the solutions. It is not simply idealism. It is 21st century realism,” he added.
Blair outlined six important challenges facing the world today: the economy, security issues, climate changes, energy, immigration and African issues.
He said migration is the “hottest” issue in Europe now. Problems such as social tensions and housing have arisen from this phenomenon.
Drawing his experience from 10 years of premiership in Britain and two times presidency in The Group of Eight, Blair said that there is a mismatch between the need for global solutions and the governments’ capacity to deliver such solutions.
In addition, he also said solutions cannot come from one nation or one institution alone.
For example, terrorism cannot be resolved only by security measures; the solutions lie in helping people of different faiths live together in harmony.
A global view is essential in order to help solve problems such as energy, climate changes and migration.
How can this be done? The solution is, according to Blair, a multilateral and multicultural approach.
“If we want to make it happen, we need a global agenda and the global agenda only works if there is a unifying set of global values,” he said.
In order to do so, he suggested reforming traditional institutions, building strong alliances and empowering civic society.
He recognized that the traditional institutions such as the United Nations and G8 are not as strong as they should be. While some problems are actually simple, some countries are reluctant to cooperate.
A global framework which allows differentiated conversations is needed. The framework also needs to take into account the different stages of economic development the countries are at.
According to him, strong alliances are important to solve problem. He talked about how Britain partners up with the USA and the European Union and is now deepening its relationship with China to better understand its economic developments.
Solutions need not come from government, but also from grassroots organizations. And these solutions may be the most effective ones.
He said campaigns such as Make Poverty History, offer not only practical solutions, but a different vision on how their countries can develop.
He also said that he would rather think of globalisation as an opportunity instead of a threat but people from different regions may view it differently.
According to him, the challenges are global in nature today and so are the solutions. To tackle the global challenges we need to embrace the global values.
When Mark met Tony
On 28th June 2007, the day after he relinquished his post as PM, BBC Radio Cleveland’s Mark Turnbull got the first radio interview with Tony Blair.
It is in four parts.
Listen to Part 1 (2 m 52 s) Now it’s plain Mr Blair/Challenge ahead through Middle East/Been there ten years/Last 9 months flat out/Haven’t changed much
Listen to Part 2 (2 m 43 s) No Red Boxes/Technology/Awesome burden of being PM – never leaves you/Sedgefield
Listen to Part 3 (2m 44s) 10 years – investment in local Constituency from which he has just resigned as MP/Keeping on home in constituency/Sport Foundation in North East
Listen to Part 4 (3 m 3 s) Mid East Job/Technology/Grandad?
In his first radio interview since his resignation as Prime Minister, Tony Blair spoke to BBC Radio Cleveland’s Mark Turnbull about life after number ten, and the emotions he felt as he woke up on Wednesday Morning and he prepared to leave office:
“When I was speaking to various people who called me up yesterday, they’ve got to switch from ‘Prime Minister’ to plain ‘Mr Blair’.
“It’ll take some getting used to but then there’s an exciting challenge ahead through the Middle East issue and the scale of the challenge is pretty clear.”
You must have built relationships with some of those people, was there a touch of warmth, and maybe a little tinge of sadness in those calls?
“I’ve been in the situation of saying goodbye to other leaders that have retired, for example I was speaking to President Clinton yesterday, and I said goodbye to him when he was going out of the White House.
“A decade’s a long time at the top and I’ve formed some very close relationships.”
“Once you’re out, you’re out, you don’t want to be hanging about phoning up your old mates when they’ve got work to do”.
How does it feel waking up on Thursday, the morning after the day before?
“The thing I noticed this morning, there was no red box.
“I’ll also have to get my head around technology … I’ll need to learn it all!”
Do you think the people of Sedgefield would feel let down by your resignation as their local MP?
“No, the interesting thing is, I look around my constituency today and I think ten years, I see the investment in the schools, the hospitals, I see the levels of employment so much higher that they were before, the greater prosperity.
“But I also think too, if I wasn’t doing this Middle East thing I would have stayed.
“There’s still a lot to do… but there’s big change happening.”
So how about your new role as a Middle East peace envoy?
“It’s a big challenge, but on the other hand there’s nothing more important in terms of its symbolism, its significance, not just to people in Israel, in the Palestinian territories, but throughout the whole of the world.
“This is an issue that if we don’t resolve it, it increasingly creates tension and friction between people of different countries and different faiths.
“It’s a big challenge and I look forward to it, even though it’s somewhat daunting. Part of the task I think is to try and create the basic groundwork that allows a negotiated settlement to take place. Essentially you won’t get a Palestinian state developing unless it is viable not just in terms of its territory, but in terms of its institutions, its governance its capabilities and that’s really the task that I’ve taken on.
I remember Northern Ireland and the toll it took on your health. What are you doing this for man? Shouldn’t you be retiring now? You’ll be a grandad soon.
“I don’t want to be a grandad. I’ve told my oldest boys, you make me a grandad … no …”
You’re going to be globetrotting. It does take its toll on your health, I mean, I know you’re superfit but …
“It does, but it’s not the same as doing a full time job as PM, and the other thing is I’m one of those people who if I don’t have a life purpose, something that really motivates me to get up and get out of bed in the morning I just go to bad. ”