Is it just me or does anybody out there think Tony Blair did ok in his time as Prime Minister? I know Iraq is going to be remembered as his legacy and it’s a military and political cancer for him. But consider this – he went in to eradicate an evil influence in the region. His justification was trumped up and the legitimacy was questionable and the exit plan hadn’t been worked out. But it was a brilliantly executed tactical military exercise. They should have gotten out after Saddam had been captured but that’s hindsight for you. He’d been strapped to the Bush thinking on the war which was a mistake – a huge one – but does that make him useless as a PM?
I think i’m on thin ice on this subject but I honestly feel he did ok in some ways. Forget all that spin nonsense and the way he holds his arms out as he walks towards a mike whenever other leaders and especially Bush is around. But, can you argue with me that his bravery, determination and diplomacy weren’t expertly employed to secure the N. Ireland agreements? I know it wasn’t all him by any means but his was the firm hand ensuring the bold decisions could be taken. And the results so far are so postive. I remember those nightly news images of the bombings, killings etc in N Ireland. But most of all I remember working in London in the 70’s and I recall the bomb at the top of the BT Tower weeks after I joined and the Old Bailey bomb which rocked our building and the City bombs just 300 yds down the road. It wasn’t anthing like people were experiencing in NI but it was chilling and frequent and random. And now that has all ended at least in the NI/Ireland context. That has to be his greatest legacy doesn’t it?
I also thought he handled the Diana situation with huge sensitivity and aplomb. The Royal Family were in danger of being seen as aloof and unresponsive (if not worse) and he convinved them to be more engaging with the public and probably saved their skins at that point.
I’ve met and spoken to TB once. I was invited to a reception at 10 Downing St via our support for the LTA because of a City Initiatives function they were promoting. TB had agreed to support and host the initiative which I thought was pretty cool. He’d actually just been to a 4-5 day Summit (in Russia if I recall) and had had a tough time but having arrived earlier he spent several hours glad-handling with corporate UK to secure more support for British tennis. I spoke to him briefly and asked how he managed to do it. He must have been exhausted. He just said it comes with the job and asked about my company’s involvement with tennis etc. He spoke to everybody in the room and there must have been over 60 people. Cherie was there too and also spoke to most people, though she did pass by me closely on the way to a more interesting contact obviously. But I did brush myself rather rudely against her as she passed by and that was the first and probably the last time I will ever do that. But it did give me quite a considerable thrill, I can admit.
I’d nearly met Cherie when we were in adjacent boxes at the Commonwealth Games final night in Manchester when the Brit teams won a number of medals including I think around 5 golds. There was no wall between the boxes and young Leo was running across between the two. Cherie was very relaxed, enjoying the atmosphere and easy about Leo’s exuberance. She struck me as a great mum. Sorry to all those who write painful things about her but I can only comment as I see things.
Regarding that night in 10 DS. I’d lost interest in networking after a while and had wandered in into a side-room. It was fascinating, over-looking the garden. I was taking in the view when I heard a voice behind me asking if I was perhaps lost. It was a security guy of course and I told him I was just fascinated by the house and a little bored by the conversation. He asked if I’d like a peep round and off we went around the more public rooms. Brilliant. Before doing so he pointed out the crack in the plaster in the room overlooking the garden. That was the result of the audacious IRA mortar attack some years before and showed how close they’d come to causing a real world-wide publicity coup.
The next time I saw the PM and his wife was out in Singapore just before the vote for the 2012 games. It was an event at the Govenor’s residence and was the culmination of him working his butt off for two days personally meeting as many delegates as possible to reassure them about the HM Government’s commitment to supporting the Bid and The Games, before the casting vote. They reckon he saw nearly 100 of the delegates during that time. It’s probably a gross exaggeration but all those in the know told me he and Cherie really did work their rocks off and of course we won the vote.
I know it’s not fashionable or cool or creditable but I really have a lot of time for T &C and wish them well. They are on course to make a fortune of course. I wonder how many people will agree with me?