Blair's Farewell Performance
Tony Blair is capable of performances that exude considerable bravura or great pathos. His farewell PMQ's was neither, whatever might have been expected. It was relatively low key, marked by tributes from his various questioners, and culminated with applause and a standing ovation. It was, of course, a chronic sign - perhaps the sign - of his premiership that it should begin again with a citation for soldiers recently killed in Iraq. Whatever other tributes are paid to Blair, let us not forget that his leadership has cost the lives of many British citizens, and considerably more Iraqi ones, and that echo was still with him in that farewell performance. He also gave us some of the spin for which he is so notorious. Did his recitation of improved exam results as an indicator of his government's success in education really convince anyone? Has the government's determination to keep pointing to ever increasing public exam results not demeaned the whole exam system, as this government's spin has demeaned so much else?
But whatever a prime minister does, if he or she is there for a long time in particular, they can expect the courtesy of a polite, respectful send-off from their own - their fellow politicians. Perhaps Blair was as honest as he'll ever be when he remarked on the commonality of feeling amongst all those elected to serve full time as 'representatives'. That was what was behind the oddly unconvincing 'tributes' from Cameron, Campbell, Paisley et al. And I wonder how many in the country at large will share that comfortable exchange of praise?