Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Blair’s resignation speech (yawn)

The version on the Labour website is slightly different to that emailed out to the “Labour supporters network”, the latter seeming to be a transcript of what was actually said, rather than merely the notes.

Still, a couple of interesting admissions that reveal a lot: First, Blair only reached “political maturity” in his mid-30s (a tad late, one might think), and secondly (only in the email version) he admits that “none of it [pre-1990s British politics] made sense to me”. Quoting the full paragraph (as it’s not on the website) will show amply just how little he understood:

“I looked at my own country. A great country with a great history and magnificent traditions, proud of its past. But strangely uncertain of its future. Uncertain about the future, almost old fashioned.

“And all that was curiously symbolised you know in the politics of the time. You, you had choices, you stood for individual aspiration and getting on in life, or a social compassion of helping others. You were liberal in your values, or conservative. You believed in the power of the state or the efforts of the individual. Spending more money on the public realm was the answer, or it was the problem. And none of it made sense to me.”

Not only does he seem to have confused pre-Blair British politics with late-20th century American politics (liberal vs. conservative rather than socialist vs. capitalist, etc.), but also please note how none of the words “unions”, “workers”, “democracy”, “the poor” or “socialism” appear even once in the entire speech… (“Iraq” appears once, “education” once, “the NHS” not at all…)

Update: The Times has the full version


  1. Pingback: Chicken Yoghurt » B-Day

  2. I think its more important for Politicians to be Idealists…the civil service is to combat that surely?

    I dont think his summation is too inaccurate. Britain is arguably much better off now than before, american influenced or not…

  3. The Civil Service used to be to combat the danger of political idealism in politicians, true – not after the reforms of the last ten years, though. (Breaking the power of the Sir Humphreys is arguably a good thing, but open to a lot of abuse, and a topic for another day.)

    And yes, Britain probably is a bit better off. But only a bit, I'd say – and how much that has been down to Blair is practically impossible to say. He, of course, claims it's all down to him:

    "one thing was clear to me: without the Labour party allowing me to lead it nothing could ever have been done"

    The influence or otherwise of America on Britain's political culture during the Blair years would doubtless make an interesting post at some point too, but isn't this one. The America thing was merely to point out that, from Blair's own description of how the British political system was before he came along, he didn't and doesn't know anything about how the system in the UK used to work – which is no doubt why he's been able to be quite so blasé about buggering about with the constitution and tried-and-tested Westminster procedure throughout his time in office…