THE SHOWMAN LEAVES THE STAGE
By Fraser Nelson(link)
Dogs bark, cats miaow, Blair gives superb speeches. His latest farewell remarks were no exception, and there were a few misty eyes here in 22 Old Queen Street. Not mine, I’m afraid to say. Fat lot of good his speeches have done of us over the years. But here’s what I made of his remarks. This was his long-awaited “sorry”.
Specifically “I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times I have succeeded – and my apologies to you for the times where I have fallen short”. Of course, he did qualify this earlier: “I may have been wrong. That’s your call. But believe one thing, if nothing else – I did what I thought was right.” So even when he was wrong, he was kinda right. But he needs to say sorry to be forgiven, which I sense he desperately wants to be.
But his speech was riddled with tricks. “Think back to your living standards in 1997″. Now unless a developed country is at war, its people will be better-off over any ten-year period. Usually thanks to their own hard work, and nothing to do with the political elite. Only one government, he said, could say it had left office with more jobs fewer unemployed, better health, better education, lower crime and economic growth in every quarter. Another Blair trick! Only the last criteria is unique to the Blair decade, and that’s because the steady – but slow – way the UK economy has grown. As I never tire of pointing out, the UK has had the worst economic growth in the English-speaking world since 1997. Most developed countries have done better than us. Nothing to boast about.
The final words on Blair’s speech were “Good luck”. I rather fancied he meant to say “Because Gordon Brown’s coming and you’ll all need all the luck you can get.” And I’d say Amen to that. Blair is the best showman to be in No. 10 since Churchill. Fittingly, he’s going off with a good performance (albeit too long for my liking). But he had an opportunity to truly change Britain, and blew it. The Business supplement in this week’s magazine is entitled “A Modern Tragedy.” And this, I think, really does say it all.