January 19, 2005

Blair and Social Change

Having written about Tony Blair's highly embarrassing Dodgy Dossier incident in the previous post, I’d like to change emphasis and recall what is widely recognized as one of his finest moments.  In one of his first speeches as Labour Party leader, given on Oct 4, 1994, he set out a vision that not only distanced his party from the old dogma that was weighing it down, but re-energized Labour, which had been out of power since 1979, and encouraged it to be bold while sticking to its principles.  Portions of his speech seem particularly relevant today.

He said, in part:

Market forces cannot educate us or equip us for this world of rapid technological and economic change. We must do it together.

We cannot buy our way to a safe society. We must work for it together.

We cannot purchase an option on whether we grow old. We must plan for it together.

We can't protect the ordinary against the abuse of power by leaving them to it; we must protect each other.

That is our insight.
A belief in society.  Working together.

Those most in need of hope deserve the truth.
Hope is not born of false promises; disillusion is.

They are tired of dogma. They are tired of politicians pretending to have a monopoly on the answers. They are tired of glib promises broken as readily in office as they were made on the soap box.

We are not going to win despite our beliefs.
We will only win because of our beliefs.

Blair went on to become “the third youngest prime minister in British history,” in 1997, “and was the most popular prime minister since opinion polls began.”

I found this speech in the Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Speeches, edited by Brian MacArthur (1999), and I quote and paraphrase from the commentary therein.

By Will Friedman in Quotes and Speeches | Permalink  | 


Every time Blair come close to coping it over Iraq, he pulled a killer speech out of the closet. So should we care about the words of a man who so has so badly damaged British democracy? I feel we should fight against his words, place them in the context of 'Blair the great deceiver', but I can see why you also want to find an idol.

Posted by: joe | Feb 4, 2005 3:41:03 PM

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