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Tuesday, September 26, 2006 

Blair's speech: The last gasp of a delusional, messianic liar.

You'd have been forgiven, having watched the BBC's Daily Politics show, for thinking that Blair's final speech to the Labour Party conference had been a tour de force, the equivalent of the ten commandments being passed down from God to Moses in the form of stone tablets, an unshakeable, undeniable brilliant oration from the greatest politician of his generation. Both Roy Hattersley and Lord Bell, neither big fans of the Dear Leader, were in effect laying back basking in the afterglow of the most fantastic intercourse they'd ever had, lighting cigarettes and hoping desperately that there was more to come.

It's true that Blair can at times be almost as charismatic as Bill Clinton, a man who knows how to bring people to the brink of orgasm with just a few well-placed words, but he wasn't anywhere near that kind of form today. His speech, as dreary as one of his pathetic performances at prime minister's questions when he reels off Labour's list of achievements since 1997 then attacks the Tories for still leaving them with a legacy of devastation, was piss-poor. The audience though were already in the mood for what was a greatest hits type final tour by the Dear Leader. As he went through triumph after triumph, rather than the image of himself playing guitar for the Rolling Stones which must have been going through his mind, he instead appeared to be a teenager addicted to onanism, the kind that goes through six acts of self-abuse a day. The delegates for their part performed their designated role, that of a degraded woman in a porn flick, opening wide, sticking out their tongues, desperate to catch every last drop of the sticky, foul tasting substance that burst forth from their hero's battered and limp organ.

Sex references and imagery aside, it's still hard to argue with most of Blair's listing off what he considers his greatest achievements. The only major quibble you can have with it is his not so strange failure to remember that he didn't support Ken Livingstone as Labour's candidate for London Mayor, instead going with the hapless former health minister Frank Dobson. What hits you though is how much further that Blair could have gone with his two huge majorities, now decimated thanks to the biggest foreign policy disaster this country has ever known. Labour in the 1960s managed to push through the abolition of the death penalty, the decriminalisation of abortion and the first removal of discrimination against homosexuals. The only major radical policy on the same level that New Labour has brought in has been civil partnerships, and that took far too long. For all the praise for the NHS, the service has been wrecked by the constant revolution of reform, the reorganisations that have took place multiple times which have resulted in the frontline workers tearing their hair out. Blair talks of a return to Labour's real values, yet he forgets how only months ago he made a speech attacking the permissiveness of the 1960s and the liberal ideas that came from that period.

The beliefs of the Labour party of 2006 should be recognisable to the members of 1906. Full employment; strong public services; tackling poverty; international solidarity.

No arguing with the first two. A decent amount of work has been done on poverty, but not enough. Blair's obeisance to capital has meant that the richest have got even richer while the poorest have got even poorer, and nothing has been done or suggested to help change this. Tax credits, which Blair mentions, have been such a cock-up, resulting in families going into abject poverty after being paid too much and being unable to pay it back are helping but the drawbacks have outweighed the benefit. As for international solidarity, that's the biggest joke of the whole speech. Solidarity only with the United States, middle finger up to everyone else except for Israel, only interested in Europe as to appease those on the left who are critical about the special relationship.

The second half, more focused on the challenges that Blair believes face the world and Labour, is in places better balanced than in others. His talk of a third way on globalisation, when everyone realises that Blair is a slave to neo-liberalism, except when the tabloids start screaming about immigrants, is laughable. The nonsense of a "Google" generation moving beyond 9-5, when polls consistently show that the public just wants good local free at the point of use services, not stupidly complicated "choice" involving in private treatment centres that rip off the taxpayer is just as disingenuous.

The third part, which could be called the tough on everything part of the speech, reels off just how badly we need small pieces of plastic with our fingerprints and iris scans on them, how brilliant the DNA database is, even though those who are arrested and not charged have their personal private data taken, and why everyone should support John Reid's no doubt magnificent plans on law 'n' order, designed to rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of the victim, shows just why Blair and his cronies have to go.

It gets worse. Blair just cannot admit to what everyone already knows, what countless reports have now identified as being an undisputable fact, that the Iraq war has left us all far less safe and increased the threat of terrorism. The constantly repeated argument, that September the 11th happened before any war is trotted out once again, even though it has nothing to do with what is happening now. He raves about how fantastic our troops are, even though he hasn't had the guts to visit any of the injured in hospital. He covers the unforgivable policy of not calling for an immediate ceasefire over the Israel-Hizbullah-Lebanon war by saying that it musn't happen again, despite personally having blood on his hands for supporting the American position of letting the Israelis do whatever they hell they liked.

The final part, an attack on the Tories, makes you realise just what Blair's autocratic leadership has done to the once idealistic, altruistic party. He accuses Cameron of anti-Americanism because he dared to suggest that Blair's sycophantic relationship with Bush has only damaged Britain both worldwide and internally. He suggests that ID cards are the cure-all for illegal immigration, even though asylum seekers and immigrants are given them as soon as they enter the country, which the dastardly Tories have dared to oppose. He laughs at Cameron's decision to only use nuclear power as a last resort, one of his most sound fleshed out policies. He mocks the idea of a British bill of rights, not because the Human Rights Act is far better than any half-baked Tory suggestion but because lawyers would draw it up. It doesn't seem to occur to Blair that half of his cabinet are trained as lawyers, that he himself was a barrister, and we all know how badly that's backfired. There was no sign of self-deprecation.

All of which makes his claim to be a progressive incredibly humourous. Cameron's Tories ideas make them more progressive than he is at the moment. Blair sold his soul to the Murdoch devil years ago, determined not to have his new party undermined by the megalomaniac whose newspapers claim to speak for the working classes but actually hate them just as much as they hate the old Labour party which Blair has left emaciated, destitute, broken.

Iraq was mentioned but once. Blair stands for the continuation of failed policies, of crushed hopes, of continued attacks on everything that his party once stood for. He ought to have been booed and told to go. Instead he was lauded. Gordon Brown and the others who would like the top job offer little alternative. 2006 will go down as the death of the Labour party, destroyed by a man only interested in power for power's sake, who had no grand vision other than privatisation, endless reform and a huge belief in the power of good-faith bombers. So long Tony, and thanks so much.

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A " once idealistic altruitic party" you say. Perhaps. But at that time it was never in power.
Whilst some of what you say has credence, and whilst I agree it is time for the Prime Minister to leave, he has, despite what may or may not have been correct over his tenure managed one great thing today. He has managed to secure a peaceful transition of power with this speech. That is not only good for him , it is good for his party's chances at the next election. Most important, it is good for Britain.
(http://ericstake.com)

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