Yesterday it happened: Tony Blair announced his departure from the position of Prime Minister. And as always, the most talented public speaker of contemporary politics did it with class. Blair's 18-minute speech could be used as educational material for studies of rhetorics. It was personal, emotional, honest and uplifting.
The sentence there on the cover of The Guardian sums up to a great extent the reason why I still admire this politician who is so hated by so many. One could say that Blair is an old-fashioned politician with his firm belief in right and wrong. One can say a lot about the spin during his 10 years but I would dare to state that Blair will be remembered as one of the great politicians of our time. Together with Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown they started a change of The Left which had influence on the entire social democratic movement in Europe. The concept often referred as New Labour brought the left closer to the middle, updated the collaboration mechanisms between public and private bodies and saved the individual from overcollectivism.
Stephen Frears' recent film The Queen reminds us well of the impact the landslide of New Labour had in 1997. Politics was once again cool and there was a sense of positive change. One could say that New Labour was not able to deliver what they promised but I would give credit to Labour and Blair for trying. In his speech yesterday Blair defended wonderfully his idealism and overambitious plans. As he said, he would not want to do things any other way. He apologised for mistakes and took credit of the improved social equality in Britain during their era.
For me the best part of Blair's speech was his defense of idealism and optimism. I was not able to find the exact quote online but it was something on the lines that he has always been an optimist and remains stubbornly as one. The marvellous part was saying that often people say that optimism does not work in politics and Blair saying that "in life we should give the impossible a go". Superb and brave. Blair is one of these politicians who is not afraid of making bold statements. I like that. Without him politics will be more boring, more cautious and less sexy.
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