Last modified on 25 September 2014, at 18:57

Tony Blair

Tony Blair

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born May 6, 1953) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 2, 1997 to June 27, 2007. He was an employment law barrister before being elected to Parliament as Labour Party MP for the constituency of Sedgefield in 1983. Becoming Labour Party leader in 1994, he adopted moderate pro-free market policies and won a landslide victory in the 1997 general election. His decision to send UK forces to assist in the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was highly controversial and surrounding scandals tarnished his image, although he was re-elected in 2005.

SourcedEdit

  • I am a Socialist not through reading a textbook that has caught my intellectual fancy, nor through unthinking tradition, but because I believe that, at its best, Socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral. It stands for co-operation, not confrontation; for fellowship, not fear. It stands for equality, not because it wants people to be the same but because only through equality in our economic circumstances can our individuality develop properly.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th Series, vol. 45, col. 316.
    • Maiden speech as MP for Sedgefield, 6 July 1983.
  • The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge.

As Leader of the OppositionEdit

  • I shall not rest until, once again, the destinies of our people and our party are joined together again in victory at the next general election Labour in its rightful place in government again.
    • Philip Webster, "Blair sets sights on Downing Street", The Times, 22 July 1994.
    • Speech on being elected Leader of the Labour Party, 21 July 1994.
  • The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.
    • Mail on Sunday, 2 October 1994.
  • Any parent wants the best for their children. I am not going to make a choice for my child on the basis of what is the politically correct thing to do.
    • "Mr Blair opts out", Guardian, 2 December 1994. Statement on 1 December 1994, defending his decision to send his eldest son Euan to the London Oratory School which had opted out of local education authority control under a policy which the Labour Party opposed.
  • Tony Blair: Has the Prime Minister secured even the minimal guarantee from the Euro-rebels that, on a future vote of confidence on Europe, they will support him?
    John Major: I can sense the concern in the right hon. Gentleman's voice. Perhaps he would like to tell me whether he has received the support of the 50 MPs who defied his Front Bench over Maastricht; of the 40 who defied him over European finance; on a single currency, where the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) was in dispute with the deputy leader of the Labour party; and on clause IV, which half his, I think he called them, infantile MEPs want to keep. He does not, and his deputy leader does one day and does not the next. These are party matters. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what his position is?
    Tony Blair: There is one very big difference—I lead my party, he follows his.
    • Hansard, House of Commons 6th series, vol. 258, cols. 655-6.
    • Prime Minister's Question Time, 25 April 1995.
  • We have no plans to increase tax at all.
    • Philip Bassett, "Blair pledges he will not raise tax", The Times, 21 September 1995, p. 1.
    • Response to questioning about Labour Party tax plans at a CBI seminar in Birmingham, 20 September 1995.
  • I didn't come into politics to change the Labour Party. I came into politics to change the country.
    • Michael White, "Blair wants 'to make UK young again'", Guardian, 4 October 1995.
    • Speech to the Labour Party conference, 3 October 1995.
  • I want to see a publicly-owned railway, publicly accountable.
    • Paul Routledge, "Why the unions aren't rocking Blair's boat", Independent on Sunday, 8 October 1995.
    • Speech to the Labour Party conference, 3 October 1995.
  • I can't stand politicians who wear God on their sleeves.
    • Sunday Telegraph, 7 April 1996.
  • Ask me my three main priorities for government, and I tell you: education, education and education. We are 35th in the world league of education standards – 35th. At every level, radical improvement and reform.
    • "We are back as the people's party, says Blair", The Times, 2 October 1996.
  • Isn't it extraordinary that the Prime Minister of our country can't even urge his Party to back his own position. Weak! Weak! Weak!
    • Prime Ministers Questions, 30 January 1997.
    • Speech to Labour Party conference, 1 October 1996.
  • If there are further steps to European integration, the people should have their say at a general election or in a referendum.
    • "New Britain: My vision of a young country", p. 70
  • Powers that are constitutionally there can be used but the Scottish Labour Party is not planning to raise income tax and once the power is given it is like any parish council: it's got the right to exercise it.
    • The Scotsman, 4 April 1997.
    • Asked whether he would intervene to prevent the Scottish Parliament from raising taxes.
  • Sovereignty rests with me as an English MP and that's the way it will stay.
    • ibid.
  • A new dawn has broken, has it not?
    • Victory speech at Labour election-night party, Royal Festival Hall, London, 2 May 1997.

As Prime MinisterEdit

  • My message to Sinn Fein is clear. The settlement train is leaving. I want you on that train. But it is leaving anyway and I will not allow it to wait for you.
    • David McKittrick, "Blair offers a fresh start for Irish peace", The Independent, 17 May 1997, p. 1.
    • Speech at the Royal Ulster Agricultural Show, 16 May 1997.
  • I was born in 1953, a child of the Cold War era, raised amid the constant fear of a conflict with the potential to destroy humanity. Whatever other dangers may exist, no such fear exists today. 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. That is a prize beyond value.
    • Martin Bentham, "You're the boss, Tony", The Sun, 28 May 1997, p. 2.
    • Speech at a summit in Paris between NATO and Russia, 27 May 1997.
  • 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.
    • Frank Millar, "Shocked Britain mourns loss of Princess Diana in Paris car crash", Irish Times, 1 September 1997, p. 1.
    • Statement on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, 31 August 1997.
  • I would never do anything to harm the country or anything improper. I think most people who have dealt with me think I'm a pretty straight sort of guy, and I am.
    • Trevor Kavanagh, "Blair: My big blunder", The Sun, 17 November 1997, p. 8.
    • Interview with John Humphrys on BBC TV's "On the Record", 16 November 1997.
  • A day like today is not a day for, sort of, soundbites, really - we can leave those at home - but I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders, I really do.
    • Julia Langdon, "The gloves are off in the Speaker's corner", Herald (Glasgow), 9 April 1998, p. 21.
    • Statement to the press on arriving at Hillsborough Castle for the Northern Ireland talks, 7 April 1998.
  • We do, as a new Government, have to be extremely careful after 18 years in opposition. A lot of people who worked for us, they then go on and work for the lobby firms. I think we have to be very careful with people fluttering around the new Government, trying to make all sorts of claims of influence, that we are purer than pure, that people understand that we will not have any truck with anything that is improper in any shape or form at all.
    • David Hughes, "'Don't flutter around us' Blair warns lobbyists", Daily Mail, 8 July 1998, p. 2.
    • After a scandal about lobbying and access; this statement is often misremembered as "whiter than white".
  • A New Britain where the extraordinary talent of the British people is liberated from the forces of conservatism that so long have held them back, to create a model 21st century nation, based not on privilege, class or background, but on the equal worth of all.
  • I can stand here today, leader of the Labour Party, Prime Minister, and say to the British people: you have never had it so ... prudent.
  • There have been the most terrible, shocking events taking place in the United States of America within the last hour or so, including two hi-jacked planes being flown deliberately into the World Trade Centre. I am afraid we can only imagine the terror and the carnage there and the many, many innocent people who will have lost their lives. I know that you would want to join with me in sending the deepest condolences to President Bush and to the American people on behalf of the British people at these terrible events.

    This mass terrorism is the new evil in our world today. It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life and we, the democracies of this world, are going to have to come together to fight it together and eradicate this evil completely from our world.
    • Trades Union Congress
    • Speech to the Trades Union Congress. 11 September 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks of that day had begun.
  • For the moment, let me say this: 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.
    • Hansard, House of Commons 6th series, vol. 383, col. 23.
    • House of Commons statement on discussions with President Bush over the Middle East, 10 April 2002.
  • I don't like it, to be honest, when politicians make a big thing of their religious beliefs, so I don't make a big thing of it.
  • Look, I'm a person, an individual with a character and part of my character is about what I believe in and part of my beliefs obviously is a religious conviction. I simply hesitate whenever I get drawn into this territory because I have found, over time, that it either leads to people misunderstanding the basis upon which you are taking decisions or it leads to people trying to colonise God or religion for one particular political position. I make no claims to that at all.
  • [The Joint Intelligence Committee] concludes that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, that Saddam has continued to produce them, that he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated within 45 minutes, including against his own Shia population, and that he is actively trying to acquire nuclear weapons capability.
    • Hansard House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 390, col. 3.
    • House of Commons statement on publication of the dossier concerning Iraq and Weapons of Mass Destruction, 24 September 2002.
  • Sometimes, and in particular dealing with a dictator, the only chance of peace is a readiness for war.
    • Speech to the Labour conference in Blackpool, 2 October 2002. Perhaps echoes an old latin proverb, Si vis pacem, para bellum (If you want peace, be prepared for war).
  • Lead me into war...you know I believe in you.
    • [1] Meeting with George W. Bush on January 31, 2003.
  • The intelligence is clear: [Saddam Hussein] continues to believe that his weapons of mass destruction programme is essential both for internal repression and for external aggression. It is essential to his regional power. Prior to the inspectors coming back in, he was engaged in a systematic exercise in concealment of those weapons.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 400, col. 123.
    • House of Commons statement on Iraq, 25 February 2003.
  • If we don't act now, we can't keep those people down there forever. We can't wait forever. If we don't act now, then we will go back to what has happened before and then of course the whole thing begins again and he carries on developing these weapons and these are dangerous weapons, particularly if they fall into the hands of terrorists who we know want to use these weapons if they can get them.
    • Prime Minister's website
    • Appearing in "MTV Forum - Is War the Answer?", recorded on 6 March 2003, transmitted on 11 March 2003.
  • We are asked now seriously to accept that in the last few years–contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence–Saddam decided unilaterally to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 301, col. 762.
    • House of Commons debate on Iraq, 18 March 2003.
  • This is the time not just for this Government–or, indeed, for this Prime Minister—but for this House to give a lead: to show that we will stand up for what we know to be right; to show that we will confront the tyrannies and dictatorships and terrorists who put our way of life at risk; to show, at the moment of decision, that we have the courage to do the right thing.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 301, cols. 773-774.
    • Conclusion of speech in the House of Commons debate on Iraq, 18 March 2003.
  • As I have said throughout, I have no doubt that they will find the clearest possible evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 406, col. 161.
    • Replying to questions following statement on the G8 summit, House of Commons, 4 June 2003.
  • What amazes me is how many people are happy for Saddam to stay. They ask why we don't get rid of Mugabe, why not the Burmese lot. Yes, let's get rid of them all. I don't because I can't, but when you can you should.
    • Michael Ignatieff, "Why Are We In Iraq? (And Liberia? And Afghanistan?)", New York Times, 5 September, 2003.
  • We've already discovered, just so far, the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves.
  • I thought that it was the most predictable speech that we could have heard from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He may want to pose as the nice Dr. Jekyll, but we know that, deep down, he is still the same old Mr. Howard.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 415, col. 23.
    • Debate on the Queen's Speech, 26 November, 2003.
  • It has been an unrelenting, but, I have to accept, at least partly successful campaign to persuade Britain that Europe is a conspiracy aimed at us, rather than a partnership designed for us and others to pursue our national interest properly in a modern, interdependent world. It is right to confront this campaign head on. Provided that the treaty embodies the essential British positions, we shall agree to it as a Government. Once agreed – either at the June Council, which is our preference, or subsequently – Parliament should debate it in detail and decide upon it. Then, let the people have the final say.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 420, col. 157.
    • House of Commons Statement on the publication White Paper on Europe, 20 April 2004.
  • What you can't do is have a situation where you get a rejection of the treaty and then you just bring it back with a few amendments and say we will have another go. You can't do that and I am not going to get drawn into speculating the way forward because I don't intend to lose the referendum.
  • Do I know I'm right? Judgements aren't the same as facts. Instinct is not science. I'm like any other human being, as fallible and as capable of being wrong. I only know what I believe.
    • Full text of Blair's speech, BBC News online
    • Speech to the Labour Party Conference, 28 September 2004, referring to the fact that no WMDs had been found in Iraq.
  • Don't say yes to that question, that would be difficult.
    • CNN.com
    • At a joint press conference with George W. Bush, 13 November 2004. Blair interrupted when a reporter asked Bush if he sees Blair as his poodle.
  • It is not a sensible or intelligent response for us in Europe to ridicule American argument or parody their political leadership.
  • Sir Michael Spicer: What are the characteristics of old Labour that he dislikes so much?
    Tony Blair: I am afraid that the Hon. Gentleman will have to repeat that.
    Sir Michael Spicer: What are the characteristics of old Labour that he dislikes so much?
    Tony Blair: Basically, that it never won two successive terms of Government and, perhaps, that it never put the Conservative party flat on its back, which is where it is now. Thankfully, we are running an economy with low inflation, low mortgage rates and low unemployment; fortunately, we are doing a darn sight better than the Government of whom the right hon. Gentleman was a Member, who had—I thank him for allowing me to mention this—interest rates at 10 per cent. for four years, 3 million unemployed and two recessions. Whether it is old Labour or new Labour, it is a darn sight better than the Tories.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 430, col. 302
    • In the House of Commons, 26 January 2005.
  • I fear my own conscience on Africa. I fear the judgement of future generations, where history properly calculates the gravity of the suffering. I fear them asking: but how could wealthy people, so aware of such suffering, so capable of acting, simply turn away to busy themselves with other things? What greater call to action could there be? Did they really know and yet do nothing? I feel that judgement of the future alongside the now. It gives me urgency. It fills me with determination.
  • Yes, I did have to struggle very hard to get this [the vote on the Iraq war] through, but the reason I did it was because I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't take this on myself... just because I thought, 'Let's give myself a really hard time for a couple of years!'
    • On BBC Question Time's election special programme, 28 April, 2005.
  • I understand there is a need for a stable and orderly transition to that leadership, but that people should give me the space to ensure that happens and that this debate is not best conducted in the pages of the Mail on Sunday.
    • Michael White, "I will go in my own time – Blair", The Guardian, 12 May 2005, p. 2.
    • Speech to the Parliamentary Labour Party, 11 May 2005; the 'leadership' referred to was that of his successor, who was widely assumed to be Gordon Brown.
  • Ideals survive through change. They die through inertia in the face of challenge.
  • It is important that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world.
  • The spirit of our age is one in which the prejudices of the past are put behind us, where our diversity is our strength. It is this which is under attack. Moderates are not moderate through weakness but through strength. Now is the time to show it in defence of our common values.
  • Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 6th series, vol. 439, col. 302.
    • 9 November 2005, responding to Charles Kennedy in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions. Blair was referring to the likely defeat in Parliament of additional powers to detain terror suspects without charge, which happened later that day.
  • This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation.
  • To state a timetable now would simply paralyze the proper working of government, put at risk the changes we are making for Britain and damage the country.
  • We can only protect liberty by making it relevant to the modern world.
  • He wants a Bill of Rights for Britain drafted by a Committee of Lawyers. Have you ever tried drafting anything with a Committee of Lawyers?
  • In this day and age if you've got the technology then it's vital to use that technology to track people down. The number on the database should be the maximum number you can get.
    • BBC News online
    • Remarks while touring the Forensic Science Service, concerning the police DNA database, 23 October 2006.
  • That's the art of leadership. To make sure that what shouldn't happen, doesn't happen.
    • Stryker Mcguire (2007-02-26). "I Did It My Way". Newsweek International. Retrieved on 2007-02-20. 
    • Interview with Newsweek.
  • I couldn't live with myself if I thought that these big strategic choices for my generation were there, and I wasn't even making them – or I was making them according to what was expedient rather than what I actually thought was right.
    • Stryker Mcguire (2007-02-26). "I Did It My Way". Newsweek International. Retrieved on 2007-02-20. 
  • So, of course, the visions are painted in the colours of the rainbow, and the reality is sketched in duller tones of black and white and grey. But I ask you to accept one thing. Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong. That is your call. But believe one thing, if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country.
  • The British are special. The world knows it. In our innermost thoughts we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth. So it has been an honour to serve it. I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times that I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short. But good luck.
  • The fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever before, hunts in a pack. In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no-one dares miss out.
  • The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, "It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified."
  • Some may belittle politics but we who are engaged in it know that it is where people stand tall. Although I know that it has many harsh contentions, it is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster. If it is, on occasions, the place of low skulduggery, it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes. I wish everyone, friend or foe, well. That is that. The end.

Post-Prime Ministerial careerEdit

  • Analogies with the past are never properly accurate and analogies especially with the rising fascism can be easily misleading, but in pure chronology I sometimes wonder if we're not in the 1920s or 1930s again... This ideology now has a state, Iran, that is prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilising countries whose people wish to live in peace.
  • I think this has gone beyond, as it were, Al Qaida as a specific network. I mean, this is -- there is no central command in this ideology, the way that, you know, you would normally describe one unit of -- that leads and operation. It's not like that. But the fact is that they are loosely linked by an ideology. They have very strong links with each other, right across the national boundaries. And you know, would be no surprise to me if the people that were engaged in the Mumbai attacks had links with other countries as well.
    • CNN, Decembeer 7, 2008 [2]
  • We should engage with the new de facto power and help make the new government make the changes necessary, especially on the economy, so they can deliver for the people. The events that led to the Egyptian army's removal of President Mohamed Morsi confronted the military with a simple choice: intervention or chaos. Seventeen million people on the streets are not the same as an election. But it as an awesome manifestation of power. I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn't on its own mean effective government. Today efficacy is the challenge. This is a sort of free democratic spirit that operates outside the convention of democracy that elections decide the government. It is enormously fuelled by social media, itself a revolutionary phenomenon. And it moves very fast in precipitating crisis. It is not always consistent or rational. A protest is not a policy, or a placard a programme for government. But if governments don't have a clear argument with which to rebut the protest, they're in trouble.
    • The Guardian 6 July, 2013 Blair justifying the Egyptians army actions on removing Morsi

About Tony BlairEdit

  • Don’t be shameless, Mr Blair. Don’t be immoral, Mr. Blair. You are one of those who have no morals. You are not one who has the right to criticize anyone about the rules of the international community. You are an imperialist pawn who attempts to curry favor with Danger Bush-Hitler, the number one mass murderer and assassin there is on the planet. Go straight to hell, Mr. Blair.
    • Hugo Chavez responding to Blair, which he urged Venezuela to abide by the rules of the international community. (Febuary 2006) 12
  • I believe Tony Blair is an out-and-out rascal, terminally untrustworthy and close to being unhinged. I said from the start that there was something wrong in his head, and each passing year convinces me more strongly that this man is a pathological confidence-trickster. To the extent that he even believes what he says, he is delusional. To the extent that he does not, he is an actor whose first invention — himself — has been his only interesting role.
  • He was the future, once...
    • David Cameron on Blair during their first exchange in Prime Ministerial Questions
  • I view him as the kind of air guitarist of political rhetoric. I don't think he's debased political debate because he lies, I actually sadly think he believes a lot of what he says, that's what's so depressing about it, for people who stand outside of politics. So my rather bizarre viewpoint — should he go? — it feels like he left a long time ago, leaving this Tony Blair shaped hole that carries on talking."
  • Torture, encouraged from above, became a fact of life [in occupied Iraq]. Perhaps some good liberal apologist for Blair will soon explain how democratic torture is much nicer than authoritarian torture.
  • A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician, but without much substance; bereft of ideas he eagerly grasped and tried to improve upon the legacy of Margaret Thatcher.
  • Like millions of others, I now bitterly resent that a prime minister could use such a farrago of lies and manipulation to deceive us and to take the nation to war so dishonestly.
  • Tony Blair, a passionate Christian, has expressed his conviction that WMDs will be found in almost directly religious terms of credo quia absurdum: despite the lack of evidence, he personally is deeply convinced that they will be found. ... The only appropriate answer to this conundrum is not the boring liberal plea for innocence until guilt is proved but, rather, the point made succintly by 'Rachel from Scotland' on the BBC website in September 2003: 'We know he had weapons; we sold him some of them.' This is the direction a serious investigation should have taken.
  • In the early days of his government, Tony Blair liked to paraphrase the famous joke from Monty Python's Life of Brian ('All right, but apart from sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?') in order ironically to disarm his critics: 'They betrayed socialism. True, they brought more social security, they did a lot for healthcare and education, and so on, but, in spite of all that, they betrayed socialism.' As it is clear today, it is, rather, the reverse which applies: 'We remain socialists. True, we practice Thatcherism in economics, we attack asylum-seekers, beggars and single mothers, we made a deal with Murdoch, and so on, but, none the less, we're still socialists.'
  • Yeah, Blair, what are you doin'?
    • George W. Bush, During the G8 Meeting
    • Frequently misheard as 'Yo, Blair'.
  • Somebody who did it first and perhaps did it better than I will do. He has been an example for so many people around the world of what dedicated leadership can accomplish.
  • The righteous will evidently never tire of the pelting and taunting of Tony Blair, and perhaps those like him who choose to join the Roman choir of extreme unctuousness must expect their meed of abuse. But I cannot forget the figures of Slobodan Milošević, Charles Taylor and Saddam Hussein, who made terrified fiefdoms out of their "own" people and mounds of corpses on the territory of their neighbours. I was glad to see each of these monsters brought to trial, and think the achievement should (and one day will) form part of the battle‑honours of British Labour. Many of the triumphant pelters and taunters would have left the dictators and aggressors in place: they too will have their place in history.
  • [Blair] is a lightweight. I don't like his political morals and how he's been enriching himself since leaving office. He preaches high moral language but … I have a visceral contempt for Blair. Not dislike. Just contempt.
  • Like anyone else who knows anything about the Middle East, you just pray that this man will shut the fuck up.

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