Tony Blair Key Quotes
As at Thursday April 26, 2007
From Guardian Unlimited
The Labour party
“They say I hate the party, and its traditions. I don’t. I love this party. There’s only one tradition I hated: losing.”
Final conference speech, September 2006.
“My project will be complete when the Labour party learns to love Peter Mandelson.”
To the Telegraph, March 1996.
Tony Blair, the man
“I think most people who have dealt with me, think I’m a pretty straight sort of guy, and I am.”
November 1997, when Labour was accused of changing its policy on tobacco advertising after accepting £1m from formula one’s Bernie Ecclestone.
“Is my face bovvered? Face? Bovvered?”
He turns the tables on Catherine Tate during a Comic Relief interview in March 2007.
I can only go one way, I’ve not got a reverse gear.”
Conference speech, September 2003.
The hand of history
“The people’s princess.”
Articulating the public mood after Diana’s death in August 1997. Credit may be due to Alastair Campbell for the phrase.
“A day like today is not a day for soundbites, really. But I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders. I really do.”
Shortly before the Good Friday agreement, April 1998.
“The personal bond – like a marriage – is also a political bond which is founded on shared values and that common belief … Occasionally you can disagree.”
On his relationship with Gordon Brown, April 2005.
“At least I know she isn’t going to run off with the bloke next door.”
Alluding to Cherie’s relationship with Brown, September 2006.
“However much he dances around the ring beforehand he will come in reach of a big clunking fist and, you know what, he’ll be out on his feet, carried out of the ring.”
On David Cameron’s likely fate at the hands of Brown, November 2006.
“Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.”
Speech in Paris, May 1997.
‘Blair turns 46 on May 6, 1999. Many analysts here believe that only an unexpected calamity — such as economic depression, or perhaps a war in the Balkans turning bad on him — can keep this personable baby boomer from leading Britain for the next decade.’
Kosovo is an initiation, he concludes, surfacing the high moral sense and killer instinct that cohabit in Tony Blair: “This is the first time that my generation has had to come to terms with the fact that it is necessary to use force on certain occasions to do what is right. I do believe that in the end if a course is right it will win. I also believe we have the capability in NATO to make sure that we do win.”
April 20 1999 – Jim Hoagland is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.
“This is not a battle between the United States of America and terrorism but between the free and democratic world and terrorism. We therefore here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in this hour of tragedy.”
Statement to the nation, September 11 2001.
“I will have no truck with a European superstate. If there are moves to create that dragon I will slay it.”
Reassuring the Sun, April 1997.
“Saddam Hussein’s regime is despicable, he is developing weapons of mass destruction, and we cannot leave him doing so unchecked. He is a threat to his own people and to the region and, if allowed to develop these weapons, a threat to us also.”
In the Commons, April 2002.
“The allegation being true it would have merited my resignation … Any person listening to that would think we had done something improper, not that we just got our facts mixed up.”
Condemning Andrew Gilligan’s BBC report on the Downing Street dossier on Iraqi WMDs to the Hutton inquiry, August 2003.
“I think if you have faith about these things, you realise that judgment is made by other people … and if you believe in God, it’s made by God as well.”
On the decision to invade Iraq on Parkinson, March 2006.
The third way
“The third way stands for a modernised social democracy, passionate in its commitment to social justice and the goals of the centre-left, but flexible innovative and forward-looking in the means to achieve them.”
New Politics for a New Century, 1999.
“Ask me my three main priorities for government, and I tell you: education, education, education.”
Speech to party conference, October 1996.
“The party of fox hunting, Pinochet and hereditary peers: the uneatable, the unspeakable and the unelectable.”
On the Conservatives in his 1999 party conference speech.
“It’s not a burning ambition for me to make sure that David Beckham earns less money.”
Rejecting higher tax rates for the rich during a Newsnight interview in 2001.
“We will negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs” – Election address in Sedgefield in 1983.
“Labour is the party of law and order in Britain today. Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime” – 1993 as shadow home secretary.
“It has sure come to something when a government can only secure the passage of its own legislative programme by threatening its own demise” – To Prime Minister John Major in 1994, after Major turned a key Euro vote into a vote of confidence.
“The reason we have been out of power for 15 years is simple – that society changed and we refused to change with it” – article in The New Statesman, July 1994.
“Those who seriously believe we cannot improve on words written for the world of 1918 when we are now in 1995 are not learning from our history but living it” – 1995, on the proposed abolition of the nationalisation Clause IV of the Labour Party constitution.
“Britain needs successful people in business who can become rich by their success, through the money they earn” – Speech to the CBI, 1995.
“Penal rates of taxation do not make economic or political sense. They are gone for good – Speech to CIB conference, November 1995.
“There is no going back on the Thatcherite trade union reforms” – interview in The Daily Telegraph, January 1996.
“Ask me my main three priorities for government and I will tell you: education, education and education” – Labour Party conference, October 1996.
“People everywhere, not just here in Britain, kept faith with Princess Diana. They liked her, they loved her, they regarded her as one of the people. She was the People’s Princess and that is how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and our memories for ever” – August 31, 1997, on the death of the Princess of Wales.
“This isn’t time for soundbites. But I feel that the hand of history is on our shoulder, I really do” – On negotiating the Good Friday Agreement for Northern Ireland, April 1998.
“Disloyal, discourteous and wrong” – Mr Blair’s response to junior minister Tom Watson and rebel MPs, including Ipswich’s Chris Mole , who resigned over Labour’s leadership crisis, September 2006.
“Within the next few weeks I won’t be Prime Minister of this country. In all probability a Scot will become Prime Minister of the UK” – May 1, 2007.
Blast from the past – 26 July, 2005 – he could have said it today:
Key extracts: Blair news conference
Tony Blair was questioned by reporters on Tuesday about the London bombings, Iraq and other issues. Here are key extracts from the news conference.
ON WHETHER THE IRAQ WAR MOTIVATED TERRORISM
“They will use Iraq to try to recruit and motivate people, they will use Afghanistan.
“Before Iraq and Afghanistan and September the eleventh, which happened before those things, they used other things.
“But I think most people understand that the roots of this go far deeper, and in any event, where does this argument take us in the end?
“And I want to make one thing very clear to you. Whatever excuse or justification these people use, I do not believe we should give one inch to them.”
ON SUICIDE BOMBERS
“Until we get rid of this… frankly complete nonsense in trying to build some equivalence between what we’re doing helping Iraqis and Afghans get their democracy and these people going and deliberately killing wholly innocent people for the sake of it… we’re not going to confront this ideology in the way that it needs to be confronted.
“My point to you is this – it’s time we stopped saying ‘OK, we abhor their methods but we kinda see something in their ideas or maybe they’ve got a sliver of excuse or justification’. They’ve got no justification for it…
“Neither have they any justification for killing people in Israel either. Let’s just get that out of the way as well.
“There is no justification for suicide bombing whether in Palestine, Iraq, in London, in Egypt, in Turkey, anywhere. In the United States of America, there is no justification for it. Period.”
ON THE WORLD’S ATTITUDE TO TERRORISM
“September the eleventh for me was a wake-up call. Do you know what I think the problem is? That a lot of the world woke up for a short time and then turned over and went back to sleep again.
“And we are not going to deal with this problem, with the roots as deep as they are, until we confront these people at every single level. And not just their methods – but their ideas.”
ON POLITICIANS’ SUMMER HOLIDAYS
“We can recall Parliament at any point in time that’s necessary to do it, but, as I think the other party leaders were saying this morning, there’s only point in doing it if there is a point to it.
“As for all of us who’ll be taking holidays over the next period of time … we can all return very, very easily and I’ve made it absolutely clear and I’ve put arrangements in place.
“Not merely do I, for example, have secure communications with me wherever I am, but I will return immediately if there’s a need to do so.”
ON TALKS ABOUT NEW ANTI-TERROR MEASURES
“It was a productive meeting. I’m very pleased that the cross-party consensus on the way forward is continuing.
“I think when the main political parties present a united front, then it sends an important signal to the terrorists of our strength and our determination and our unity to defeat them.”
The main plans discussed were for new offences outlawing the preparation, incitement or training for terrorism but Mr Blair said other options had been proposed by the police and security services.
They included: “increased pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects, the use of intercepts as evidence, whether to create the specific offence of attending a terrorist training camp, the powers that are necessary to deal with some of these extreme bookshops and the publications that can incite terrorism, the use of the internet to promote and encourage terrorist activity.”
PRAISE FOR LONDONERS
“Obviously these are difficult times and London is being tested, but standing firm.
“The calm resolve of Londoners is remarked upon time and time again and rightly.
“And I would like to place again on record my thanks to the police and emergency services, the security services and those working on London’s Tubes and buses for all the work they’re doing in uniquely challenging circumstances.”
ON POLICE SHOOT TO KILL POLICY ON SUICIDE BOMB SUSPECTS
“If you are dealing with someone who you think might be a suicide bomber, then obviously the important thing is that they are not able to set off the bomb.
“And it’s as simple as that and I think it’s more of a common sense response to the situation, rather than any great change of policy and I, offhand I can’t remember whether I’ve ever had a discussion about it.”