Tony Blair: “I feel the hand of history… I really do”
19th March 2008
Blair’s words were widely mocked because of their intrinsic contradictions, but when Tony Blair uttered these words at the Northern Ireland negotiations at Hillsborough on April 7th 1998, he could not have put it better:
“A day like today is not a day for soundbites, we can leave those at home, but I feel the hand of history upon our shoulder with respect to this, I really do.”
Of course the world and his brother laughed. And, as with so often before and in the years to come, they were wrong, as time was to prove.
Still – I have to admit, I smiled too. Well, how could I not?
According to Jonathan Powell, it was the fault of both Alastair Campbell and Powell himself for rushing the Prime Minister to the press conference without giving him time to think of what he was going to say. So, when they heard him utter these words they “… were in fits of giggles. Tony couldn’t explain afterwards how he had come up with the formulation, saying it had just popped into his head.”
And of course it COULD have been a LOT worse! He could have said “on MY shoulder”. Possibly the most memorably press misquoted phrase that came out of the ten years of negotiations, it was not laying claim of possession by any one side or any one individual.
That is the genius of Blair the communicator.
If he does this instinctively, but has learned in the intervening years how and when to keep his own counsel, we can still hope for an accommodation of some sort of peace settlement in the Middle East.
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
“Getting really bored with the persistence with which people pursue their anti-Blair propaganda, steadfastly refusing to see any good in the man.” – AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”