Last Blair Prime Minister’s Questions – June 27th 2007
27th June, 2007
MASTER OF PMQs BOWS OUT WITH A CLASS PERFORMANCE
TONY BLAIR’S FINAL PMQ SESSION – HOUSE OF COMMONS
Although I know I should be shelving all this Blair watching stuff now that he’s off the domestic political scene, I couldn’t avoid writing THIS page. Mr Blair’s final appearance in Parliament deserved a page to itself – so here it is.
[Pic: Tony Blair passes his standing colleagues on his way out of the Commons chamber]
To a man and woman, the MPs present – excluding the Scottish/Welsh Nationalists, possibly – but THEY don’t count – stood to applaud Tony Blair as he took his leave of the Commons chamber after a masterclass of a PMQs session.
This unprecedented standing ovation for an outgoing PM was not simply because he had been a great leader for his party – that would only have brought half of them to their feet. Nor was it due to his having passed the ten year mark as Prime Minister, unusual as that is in both main parties. Nor was it because he had been “unfailingly courteous” and in command of every issue and question thrown at him.
MASTER AT WORK
It was recognition pure and simple of his mastery of this place, week after week, year on year, opponent after opponent, as well as his genuine dedication to public service at home and internationally despite its constant brickbats.
This place, which he admitted in his last day, he had always feared, “from first to last” paid homage to a great leader and winner. Kind of Greekly tragic, where having provided so much for democracy, he needs to be removed, just in case.
It makes me wonder how he’d have fared in Parliament if he hadn’t feared it.
So the leaders of the main opposition parties all praised him for his courteous manner and his consummate ability.
Yet there was more than that – much more. I have tried, but I have honestly failed to recall an occasion when anyone has had the better of our former prime minister (the words stick to my keyboard ) at the despatch box. Cameron, openly imitating Mr Blair’s style, has almost landed a blow now and then, but no-one has ever floored this Prime Minister.
BLAIR IS THE REAL “BIG CLUNKING FIST” – AND BROWN KNOWS IT
[Picture below: Tony Blair, flanked by John Prescott and Gordon Brown, smiles at David Cameron’s good natured banter.]
Relief as well as admiration must have been on the Tory leader’s mind on this the last day of his facing the master of Prime Minister’s Questions. And all the watching press, hardened as they are to political ‘spin’ and ‘double talk’ were as one in their praise of Blair’s final parliamentary act.
[Picture below: Gordon Brown and an emotional Margaret Beckett rise to thank Blair, as well they might.]
Mr Brown, you have a hard act to follow and don’t you know it. For me, PMQs will never, ever be the same again.
Point by point questions
Blair’s fond farewells From Cameron, Campbell and Paisley
Historic handover – hour by hour
Blair stands down – video from Sedgefield, by-election expected 19th July, 2007