Friday, May 11, 2007

Britain's better with Blair...

An absolute privilege for my wife Gill and myself to have been at Trimdon Labour Club yesterday to hear Tony Blair's announcement that he will step down as Prime Minister next month.

Many friends have been phoning and emailing to say they've seen my ugly mug in some of the media coverage including on Sky News and on the front page of the Daily Telegraph!

This wonderful image which has gone round the world was taken inside the event by Owen Hargreaves of the Press Association.

(Looking at the pic, I'm the happy clapper immediately to the left of the red Labour backdrop: Gill's in green, second row!)

It was, as reported, an emotional occasion, for the Prime Minister and his wife, and also for the warm-hearted members of Sedgefield Labour Party who have backed Tony Blair for almost a quarter of a century.

But it was also very moving for myself and others who have worked as Labour Party staff through the Blair Years start to finish.

I even detected a tear or two among some of the hardened press corps who have followed Blair throughout his political career.

Of course, it all began 24 years ago in Trimdon. So it was fitting that he should return there for his big announcement yesterday.

For me, his arrival and departure yesterday was reminiscent of the amazing event in Downing Street on that historic new dawn on Friday, 2 May 1997 which is often re-broadcast.

Britain has become better under his leadership. No more boom and bust. More jobs, more police, more doctors, more teachers: We no longer have an NHS on the point of collapse, schools no longer forced to put buckets out when it rains, more help for families, millions of pensioners and children lifted out of poverty...

And so much more.

That's Blair's legacy.

It was good to see him go out in style, not forced out of Downing Street in tears - as was Margaret Thatcher's fate.

A historic day indeed.

24 comments:

Liz said...

The resignation of the PM is a sad occasion for me. (You lucky devil getting tickets for the event). Tony Blair has been a wonderful leader and as you say Phil, Britain is a better place. I am left in despair when I hear people criticising the government. I do so wish that those individuals remembered the state of the country before 1997. Public services were dreadful, everyone lived in fear of losing their job, health care was abysmal etc etc.



His speech was wonderful and summed up how the country has changed. He has certainly been the most successful Labour Leader in my lifetime and politics will never be so exciting again! I do wish him well.

Michael Oakeshott said...

You mean all those people weren't Tony's adoring constituents? I heard they bused people in from Carlisle and Wimbledon, and even gave them faux-banners. It began in deciept and so it ends in deciept. Not to mention Iraq. Oh dear Iraq, where soldiers die for our PM's incompetence.

Did anyone notice our friend of the environment flew up there in a jet, spoke to "his people", and then flew back? Beyond parody. How much did Thursday's Labour farce cost the British taxpayer?

We could argue the issues endlessly, but I think the people spoke last week about Blair's performance(and you shouldn't need reminding of that Phil). Puttiing people on disability has conned noone, unemployment is of course much higher than 1997. Crime is higher. Money has been spent on public services, but they are worse than ever. No wonder people are so disappointed when he promised so much.

I fear Liz the people remember 1997 too well. They just don't remember it the way you would like. Labour has failed, and the end is near. 2 years of the Dour One and then it'll be Opposition for a while. Do enjoy.

Brynley said...

One does not wish to intrude of your private happiness, Phil, but I do have a question about the quarter century at Trimdon.

Quarter of a century ago. That's 1982. Well, I remember Tony and Cherie from the Mapledene area of Hackney well past that time. Unless they were leading some kind of bizarre double life, I would suggest that Trimdon came later and your quarter century is wrong.

A small point in the scheme of things, but best to be accurate.

Brynley said...

The great success of the Blair years has been Northern Ireland.

The greatest failure, bizarre,sad and inexplicable has been the catastrophic decision to volunteer as attack dog for Bush in the Middle East, a decision that has cost us any real influence or respect in the wider world.

The point of The Labour Party is presumably to be moderately left wing. Tony Blair has changed all that by consistently siding with the right wing parties in Europe, leaving the Labour Party utterly stranded, high and dry without a figleaf of difference with young Dave Cameron, as this blog has daily revealed with its ingenious attempts to find tiny, tiny points of difference between Blair and Cameron.

fairdealphil said...

liz:

You are so right. Sadly many people have short memories - or they are simply too young to remember what a state our nation was in when the tories were finally kicked out ten years ago.

michael:

i'm sure you've heard all sorts of rubbish. I can assure you that no-one was bused into Trimdon. No-one ever said all those people were Tony's constituents, but for what it's worth, the vast majority were - as the picutres show, Trimdon Labour Club was bursting at the seams with well-wishers who turned up midweek at short notice.

Yes, he flew up to Trimdon following Cabinet. He then returned to Downing Street to continue running the country.

It was fitting that he should make his announcement at Trimdon after ten years leading our country.

People like you will never accept that Labour could possibly do anything right - and you're entitled to your opinion.

Public services are not worse than ever. They are better. Much better.

You probably don't remember, or don't wish to remember the state of collapse in which the tories left our public services.

I don't know what planet you live on michael, but the fact is crime is down, we have more police, more teachers, more doctors and more nurses.

Much of the investment has gone into bricks and mortar.

Schools were falling down under the Tories.

By 1997, over half the hospitals and health centres were older than the NHS itself.

Today, more than half of hospitals and health centres - and other NHS facilities - have been built since 1997.

If you lived here, you'd know we no longer suffered boom and bust - we now have a stable, strong economy.

People no longer die in their thousands waiting for their operation. The regular winter crisis in the NHS no longer happens.

A generation of youth were consigned to the scrapheap under the ~Tories - today, long term youth unemployment has been virtually eradicated.

Michael, if you really do believe that unemployment is higher today than it was in 1997, you really are on another planet.

fairdealphil said...

brynley:

i said "almost a quarter of a century" and that is entirely accurate.

it was in fact 24 years ago - in the 1983 election - that the people of Sedgefield first gave Tony Blair their trust by electing him their MP.

hope that clarifies things...

i certainly agree that Northen Ireland is a big part of Blair's legacy - personally I give John Major credit for starting the process of talking with the IRA, but without Blair's determination and dedication to the cause, we could never have reached the historic events of earlier this week.

Please God, let it be a lasting peace.

The point of the Labour Party is not to be left or right wing, in my opinion, but to govern for "the many not the few".

In my view, the big achievement of the Blair years - started by Kinnock and Smith - has been to change the nature of politics.

the choice used to be Labour for fairness, Tories for opportunity.

New Labour has shown that fairness and opportunity can - and must - go hand in hand.

That's still the gulf difference between Labour and the Tories.

Michael Oakeshott said...

I am afraid it is you who lives on another planet. The Black lady he took such care to be seen kissing was from London! A councillor, one of the few left. Maybe this is why Labour does so badly. People all over the country can SEE these people, and many recognise them as coming from nowhere near Sedgefield. You even admit being part of the rent-a-mob. Any discerning observer would notice that even the placards were extremely similar. They even issued identi-kit banners! People are frankly sick of having their intelligence insulted. They can also SEE unemployment is higher. Calling them "disabled"(a modern epidemic) fools only the dimmest. Crime is higher. Public services are perpetually useless. Much of the investment(a ridiculous word for spending) has gone down the drain. You can lament why the public don't understand all you like. The problem is that they DO understand. They just don't believe. The lies about 1997 won't serve to get people elected. It wasn't 1979 and people know it.

As you say I am entitled to my opinion. I do wonder why you seem to question my right to hold it, merely because of my address. I have a home in England, and note that interest rates are the highest for seven years. My council tax rises hugely every year. I had to pay huge taxes on my pension. I fully understand the extent of Labour's incompetence. I have a vote in England, as I had a vote in France(my man won there as well), and occasionally have a vote here. All very legal. I doubt you would question it if I voted for the Lie Machine. I won't.

Brynley said...

Phil, you're right. Blair was elected in 1983, earlier than my memory allows.

A quarter of a century ago in 1982 he was failing to get selected as a Labour candidate for the local elections in Hackney. That is what I remember (as one who did get selected). So we are both right, really.

Brynley said...

On your points about fairness and opportunity.

If you had argued that Labour supporters/voters and Conservative supporters/voters were still very different, I think you would have a strong point.

But instead you argue that there is a policy gulf between the parties.

I'd like to know what it is.

fairdealphil said...

michael:

Your suggestion that Labour has failed on interest rates demonstrates your total ignorance - or selective amnesia.

Perhaps you didn't have a mortgage when Cameron was the special advisor to the Tory Chancellor...

If you did, you would know that he put interest rates up by FIVE per cent IN ONE DAY.

You might also have some knowledge of the worst TWO recessions since the WW2 - during the Tory years of failed economics.

People like you who don't use our public services can talk them down as much as you like, but you can't change the facts.

Ten years ago if Labour had promised to reduce NHS waiting lists to what they are today, no-one would have believed it possible.

Likewise, if we'd promised full enmployment - but it's largely been achieved and we no longer have a generation of young people with no hope of ever finding a job.

Likewise on schools, likewise on police numbers and overall reduction in crime...

People rightly have high expectations and don't think enough has been done - but when sensible people think back to the state UK limited was in ten years ago - and why they threw the Tories out - the next General Election will be all to play for.

PS - no-one ever suggested that the black lady in the pictures was not from London - and I'm sure she's proud to be a Labour councillor.

fairdealphil said...

brynley:

you ask what's the policy gulf between Labour and Tory.

Simple answer:

The Tories under David Cameron don't have any policy.

They are about image and PR and devoid of the policies to provide prosperity and security for all in today's changing world.

Every time Cameron comes up with a "policy" it's rubbished within hours - usually by his own side.

Michael Oakeshott said...

Phil, if you are going to talk about ancient history, at least get the stats right. On Black Wednesday interest rates went up 2 per cent. They never operated at 15%(urban myth). 12% was relatively normal in international terms of the time. The crisis was prompted by the decision to enter the ERM. I opposed it at the time. Mr Tony Blair MP and the PLP supported it. So I take no lectures from them or you.

If Labour wishes to stand on the state of our public services now, then we are done with them. No one believes the phoney stats. The only real stats that matter are the 500 councillors you lost two weeks ago. First councillors, then MPs. No wonder they are such a jumpy lot.

The attempt to con people failed in Sedgefield. Were you paid to go there? I suspect others were. Shameful. I'm sure she is proud to be a councillor. She is also fortunate, because 500 didn't make it thanks to your leader. Still at least they didn't die, like the 150 brave men sent to Iraq on a lie by Blair on a botched mission. If only they had been able to have such a long goodbye to their families as our wonderful PM.

fairdealphil said...

michael says:

'On Black Wednesday interest rates went up 2 per cent'

True, the Tory Chancellor put them up two per cent in the afternoon.

But that's less than half the story isn't it michael?

The same evening he came out of Number 11 - with Cameron in his shadows - to tell us it had been a difficult day and announcing that he was putting interest rates by ANOTHER three per cent.

You were probably still in school at the time but you obviously didn't pay attention:

Three plus two equals five.

Five plus ten still equals 15.

10 is double today's 5.

15 is treble.

No wonder even you call it Black Wednesday.

It was TORY Black Wednesday.

Michael Oakeshott said...

I WAS still at school Phil, but I obviously paid more attention than you. Interest rates of 15% never took effect.

It is one thing to be patronising Phil, but at least try to get the detail right. It looks embarrassing otherwise. I suggest you do more reading on this subject. And when you do, you can come back here and admit your mistake.

There's a good lad.

fairdealphil said...

michael:

if you were still at school, you probably didn't have a mortgage during Black Wednesday, so it's all academic to people like you.

The truth is worse than even 15 per cent. I well recall my mortgage going up to 17.5% after Black Wednesday - when the Chancellor announced interest rates RISES of 5%...check out your Ladybird Book of Economics and you'll see i'm right.

I don't expect michael to have noticed, but mortgage rates are less than a third of the black Tory days - yet he attempts to score political points about Labour's record on interest rates!

17.5%. Or 5.5%.

Think about it.

Tory boom'n'bust or Labour's strong, stable economy.

You may have been in school michael. i was in the grown-up world and i can tell you that the pips really squeaked.

And the nation realised that Tories could never again be trusted to run the economy.

In 2001 and 2005, the electorate remembered why we chucked them out.

In 2009, all we need is people to compare the tory record with labour's and there'll be a historic fourth term.

Michael Oakeshott said...

Base rate increased to 12%. The Chancellor announced an intention to increase them to 15%, but had withdrawn from the ERM and cut rates to 12% before the end of the day. The 15% figure never took effect. Interest rates never operated at 15%. Your lack of knowledge is a bit embarrassing. You don't appear to understand the issue or remember the detail. I have read up to check. I suggest you do the same. Then you will realise your mistake. I would also suggest you do the reading before the next comment to avoid further embarrassment. If you paid 17.5% then it is your problem. I would have recommended a new Building Society. One shudders at the prospect of such an economic halfwit being a part of our Government(albeit an insignificant part).

So base rate touched 12% briefly during the Tories 18 years. As a result of a decision many Tories opposed at the time. I used the term Black Wednesday to aid your understanding. Most of my friends refer to it as White Wednesday. It was indeed a great day in the long run. It freed us from the slow death that was the ERM and the murderous fixed rates that accompanied it. It meant we could follow our own course. By 1997 the UK economy was very healthy. Which would explain why McBroon didn't change Tory policies for the first four years.

RELATIVE interest rates(the real test of a Government's competence) now are much higher. At the peak of the economic cycle, in a world boom, our rates are 5.5% and rising. Why is the UK economy doing so badly under Labour?

You may have been in the grown up world Phil, but you clearly didn't have a very good understanding of it. The nation merely fancied a change. Quite understandable after 18 years. Blair seemed plausible, and did accept most of what the Tories had done. Imitation is surely the most sincere form of flattery. But he just didn't deliver, and the public told him that two weeks ago.

Keep telling yourself about the fourth term. You might eventually believe it. But even a fool like you but realise that deep down, in the 21st century, a man like Brown has no chance of beating Cameron. You are done for.

Now seriously: please don't write another thing about the 15% lie until you have checked your facts. I can't waste any more time explaining the blindingly obvious.

fairdealphil said...

Interest rates were already in double figures.

Lawson announced rises of FIVE per cent in a single day.

My mortgage - like many others - topped 17% - and remained in double figures for years under the Tories.

The Tory Chancellor who was advised by Cameron gave us the classic clip when everyone knew the game was up for the Tories:

The infamous night he came out of Number 11 and announced he was raising interest rates by another THREE per cent, after raising them already by two per cent earlier in the day.

But young Oakeshott, still in school at the time, says it was White Wednesday not Black Wednesday!

He even tells us the UK economy is actually weaker not stronger despite the fact that we are no longer in recession and after the longest period of steady economic growth in British history.

Michael can argue that Black is White until he is Blue. (or bluer if that's possible...)

But thankfully, most people would still rather trust Iron Chancellor Gordon with the British economy than the wee boy Georgie.

Michael Oakeshott said...

Tremendous Phil. BTW the chancellor was Lamont not Lawson. Another lapse in your memory? Economics not your thing? I won't keep kicking you, but it is quite clear you don't really know what went on during the ERM crisis. Your arrogance is only exceeded by your stupidity. There is nothing as funny as someone showing off when they obviously don't understand the debate.

To explain it for you before you make an absolute idiot of yourself. Lamont(for it was he) came out of no.11 in the afternoon to announce an intention to increase rates by a further 3%. The decision never took effect(there simply wasn't time). In the evening Lamont(if I keep saying his name it might penetrate your skull) came out to CANCEL his earlier intention to increase rates and withdrawn from the ERM.

I don't defend the Tories on this. It was a decision(ERM entry) I wouldn't have taken it. Blair would. But getting out of the ERM saved our bacon. Hence White Wednesday is an irony but nonetheless a good day overall. But you don't understand the events, so the explanation is wasted on you.

fairdealphil said...

well, now i've seen it all:

young oakeshott accusing someone else of arrogance...!

he certainly didn't learn any manners or respect at whatever school he was sent to.

seems everyone's plain stupid - except him (and Norman Lamont) of course!

but full marks to the lad for spotting my 2am mistake of mixing Lawson with Lamont!

Have a house point young Oakeshott.

i apologise to Mr Lawson unreservedly for my outrageous accusation that he announced interest rates of FIVE per cent in one day. Lawson only gave us recession.

It was of course his mate, the hapless mr Lamont who did the deed.

it's encouraging that even young Oakeshott finally accepts that his hero Mr L in fact DID emerge from Number 11 and famously announce interest rate increases of THREE per cent - on top of the TWO per cent hike he announced earlier the same day.

But he was only kidding.

Let me get this right though, because I'm not educated like wot Master Oakeshott is (apparently):

The world according to Oakeshott and the Euro-sceptics says:

1. The day the Tory Chancellor announced interest rates hikes of FIVE per cent was in fact a great one for the British economy and not a disaster at all (and he only uses the term Black Wednesday so we plebs know he's really talking about White Wednesday...!)

2. Interest rates under the Tories were only marginally more than DOUBLE the highest they have reached in ten years with Labour!

3. If you think it was Black Wednesday it was all Mr Blair's fault as he was really running the economy not the Tory Government. (note, this theory does not apply if you think it was White Wednesday).

4. The FACT that the Treasury spent £27 BILLION of our money on one day desperately trying to prop up the pound must be airbrushed from history as it could make people continue to believe it was Black and not White. If not possible to airbrush, try sticking the blame for almost going bust on the Labour opposition of the time.

5. Nigel and Norm didn't really deliver recession and boom'n'bust. Urban myth apparently.

6. We can all take heart that the man who was supposed to be running the nation's economy was only kidding when he told us he was putting interest rates up by FIVE per cent in one day!

Some joke.

I bet the millions who suffered double digit interest rates, mass unemployment, and £1 an hour slave wages laughed and laughed...
bet they're stupid too eh?

7. After ten years of Prudence, it's simply a Labour lie to suggest that UK Limited has a strong, stable economy with unprecedented growth, record low inflation and low mortgage rates, record high employment and rising prosperity.

There are not really two million more people in work in Britain than ten years ago.

And the £5 billion a year saved on the costs of unemployment is not really being invested in frontline services like schools and hospitals.

...We may be in the middest of mid-terms, but come the next General Election, Britain won't risk letting the Tories put the clock back.

Michael Oakeshott said...

1. You got it.

2. Global interest rates were higher. Surely even an economic illiterate like you Phil realises that UK plc merely follows the trend in this regard. If not, ask someone who has a clue.

3. I didn't say that. I merely noted he would have taken us in(a mistake I would have made). The triumph was getting out. NB We got out on Black Wednesday, the damage was long since done. Not sure you have grasped that(or much else).

4. You might want to prove that. The figure I have is 4 billion. Sounds like you made the other number up. Please try to distinguish between the UK entry(a mistake) and exit(so called Black Wednesday.

5. More a Phil delusion.

6. Tremendous, proof that you just don't get it. The decision was reversed before becoming operational. You haven't read about this. I could have a more intelligent conversation with a sixth former economics student. Or a monkey.

7. Fact of the day. Youth unemployment has risen 70000 since 1998(according to Labour MP Frank Field). The rest of your stats are lies. No one believes you.

Now that post was very long Phil. But you got the basic point wrong. Interest rates never operated at 15%. Why don't you just do the reading(good job you didn't go to school recently Phil, you are obviously bone idle) and admit your error. Another post on the same theme would just embarrass you.

fairdealphil said...

Young Oakeshott says:

'Interest rates never operated at 15%. Why don't you just do the reading Phil.'

Homework for you, young Oakeshott:

1. look at the Money Extra table of history of interest rates shown here:

http://www.moneyextra.com/dictionary/Interest-rate-history-003455.html

2. Say what the UK base rate was in October 1989. (clue: it was 15%).

3. Say what the mortgage rate was in March 1990. (clue: it was 15.4%).

4. Ask your Dad - or anyone who had a mortgage under Tory boom'n'bust whether they're paying more now or less (clue: homeowners are now saving an average of £4,000 a year, thanks to today's lower interest rates delivered by Gordon Brown).

5. Say what David Cameron was doing at the time (clue: he was advising the hapless Tory Chancellor!)

6. Try to work out the difference between interest rates of 15% under the tories in 1989 and today's rates of 5.5%. (clue: interest rates are approx. a third of what they were in 1989).

Straight answers young Oakeshott. No bullshit, no bluster. no cheating.

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

FAREWELL MR BLAIR

Tony Blair will go down in my estimation as a Prime Minister who promised so much but delivered so little because despite his good intentions, he has failed to deliver.

For example in 1997 Mr Blair said that ‘The very simple choice that people have in this next 24 hours is this. It is 24 hours to save our National Health Service’ yet in 2005-06, the NHS was over £1.3 billion in the red, over 20,000 job losses have been announced by NHS hospitals in England in the last year, 17 Accident and Emergency Departments, 105 community hospitals and 43 maternity units are under threat of cutbacks and closure and almost one million people in the UK are still waiting for treatment on the NHS.

Mr Blair also promised to be 'tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime' yet since 1997 violent crime has more than doubled, gun crime has doubled, almost 450,000 more crimes were committed in 2005-06 than in 1998-9, but just one in four crimes is now cleared up by the police.

In 1997 Mr Blair said that 'Our public expenditure plans require no extra taxation' yet the abolition of tax credits on pension dividends has cost pension funds £5 billion a year and £100 billion over the long term, since 1997 around 125,000 people have lost part of their pension, and even Tony Blair’s first Welfare Reform Minister, Frank Field, has said that as a result, ‘we have some of the weakest pensions provisions in Europe.'

And in 1997 Tony Blair said ‘Ask me my three main priorities for Government and I tell you: education, education, education' yet today almost half of all 11 year-olds cannot read, write and add up properly when they leave primary school, fewer than half of school leavers obtain five or more good GCSEs (grades A*-C) including English and Maths, over one in eight secondary schools has been judged ‘inadequate’, and over one third of adults in the UK do not have a basic school-leaving qualification.

Never has a British Prime Minister promised so much and delivered so little.

Michael Oakeshott said...

But not 15% in 1993. Which is what you said. So you were wrong. End of.

The rest is just flannel to cover your bullshit.

fairdealphil said...

michael:

Not me telling porkies young Oakeshott, but you again.

I never mentioned 1993, as you or anyone can easily see. Check it out.

Black Wednesday was in fact on 16 September 1992. Check it out.

So you can attempt - and fail hopelessly - to change history, but please don't misquote me:

this is what i actually said -

'...he put interest rates up by FIVE per cent IN ONE DAY.'

Check it out.

That is of course entirely accurate. Lamont (yes, it was he) put interest rates up from ten per cent to 12 per cent. Later, on the SAME day, he put interest rates up to 15 per cent.

Three plus two equals FIVE. Check it out.

The fact that the UK later crashed out of the ERM and the fact that Lamont changed interest rates for the third time in the same day only goes to emphasise the total panic and absolute incompetence of the Tory Chancellor and his advisors (including Cameron), and why they must never be trusted again to run the British economy.

Buck up your ideas young Oakeshott or you'll never make it into the "O" level group...

PS...seen the news on inflation today?

It's not 15 per cent as under the Tories. Not even double digits.

No, thanks to Gordon and New Labour, inflation is less than a fifth of what the Tories achieved - at just 2.8%.

c'mon, young Oakeshott, try telling the world 2.8% is just bullshit and an urban myth too...

2.8% or 15%.

Check it out.