'Retired' Tony will rake in the cash

Tony Blair's retirement as Prime Minister will leave him out of power, but in the money.

Prime Minister Tony Blair

Tony Blair's retirement as Prime Minister will leave him out of power, but in the money.

His departure from 10 Downing Street will open up earning opportunities on a scale which he was denied as long as he held political office.

Although his salary of £187,611 - including his MP's wage of £60,277, which he will keep - would be a fortune to most, it is a mere fraction of the sums he will now be able to command.

His memoirs are likely to be the subject of an international publishers' bidding war, with an eventual contract expected to be worth £4m or more.

And freedom from office gives him the opportunity to take to the lecture circuit in the USA, where he will be able to earn anything up to £100,000 a night talking to well-heeled audiences about his experiences and beliefs.

His undoubted oratorical brilliance and star quality will make him a bigger draw than any other foreign statesman in the USA, where he is widely admired for his strong support for America in the wake of September 11.

Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Mr Blair may kick off his career as an after-dinner speaker with a visit to Washington to pick up the Congressional Medal of Honour which he was awarded in 2003 but has so far not collected. Accepting the medal with an address to Congress would provide a high-profile "launch" in the US, while avoiding the controversy at home which would have resulted from receiving the gong while he was in power.

Departure from office will also open the doors to business boardrooms, where the prestige of his name on the letterhead - as well as access to his powers of persuasion and his unparalleled contacts book - will undoubtedly lead to offers of directorships.

Ironically, it is Cherie Blair's money-making capacity that may suffer as a result of her husband's retirement, as she will command less on the lecture circuit as the wife of a former Prime Minister than as a current occupant of 10 Downing Street.

It seems improbable, however, that generating cash will be Mr Blair's prime preoccupation when he considers how to use the vast tracts of spare time which now lie ahead of him.

Reaching the age of just 54 on May 6 this year, he potentially has a decade or more of active work still ahead of him.

He has not yet made clear whether he will step down as MP for Sedgefield on his resignation, but no-one expects him to stand at the next election, expected in 2009 or 2010.

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Speech by Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister & Leader of the Labour Party
Trimdon Labour Club, Sedgefield Monday 10 May 2007


I have come back here, to Sedgefield, to my constituency.  Where my political journey began and where it is fitting it should end.

Today I announce my decision to stand down from the leadership of the Labour Party.  The Party will now select a new Leader.  On 27 June I will tender my resignation from the office of Prime Minister to The Queen.

I have been Prime Minister of this country for just over 10 years.  In this job, in the world today, that is long enough, for me but more especially for the country.  Some times the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down.

It is difficult to know how to make this speech today.  There is a judgment to be made on my premiership.  And in the end that is, for you, the people to make.

I can only describe what I think has been done over these last 10 years and perhaps more important why.

I have never quite put it like this before.
I was born almost a decade after the Second World War.  I was a young man in the social revolution of the 60s and 70s.  I reached political maturity as the Cold War was ending, and the world was going through a political, economic and technological revolution.

I looked at my own country.

A great country.

Wonderful history.
Magnificent traditions.
Proud of its past.

But strangely uncertain of its future.  Uncertain about the future.  Almost old-fashioned.

All of that was curiously symbolized in its politics.
You stood for individual aspiration and getting on in life or social compassion and helping others.

You were liberal in your values or conservative.

You believed in the power of the State or the efforts of the individual.  Spending more money on the public realm was the answer or it was the problem.

None of it made sense to me.  It was 20th century ideology in a world approaching a new millennium.  Of course people want the best for themselves and their families but in an age where human capital is a nation's greatest asset, they also know it is just and sensible to extend opportunities, to develop the potential to succeed, for all not an elite at the top. 

People are today open-minded about race and sexuality, averse to prejudice and yet deeply and rightly conservative with a small 'c' when it comes to good manners, respect for others, treating people courteously. 

They acknowledge the need for the state and the responsibility of the individual. 
They know spending money on our public services matters and that it is not enough.

How they are run and organized matters too.  So 1997 was a moment for a new beginning; for sweeping away all the detritus of the past.

Expectations were so high.  Too high.  Too high in a way for either of us.
Now in 2007, you can easily point to the challenges, the things that are wrong, the grievances that fester.

But go back to 1997.  Think back.  No, really, think back.  Think about your own living standards then in May 1997 and now.

Visit your local school, any of them round here, or anywhere in modern Britain.
Ask when you last had to wait a year or more on a hospital waiting list, or heard of pensioners freezing to death in the winter unable to heat their homes.

There is only one Government since 1945 that can say all of the following:

More jobs
Fewer unemployed
Better health and education results
Lower crime;
And economic growth in every quarter.

This one. But I don't need a statistic.  There is something bigger than what can be measured in waiting lists or GSCE results or the latest crime or jobs figures.
Look at our economy.  At ease with globalization.  London the world's financial centre. 

Visit our great cities and compare them with 10 years ago.

No country attracts overseas investment like we do.

Think about the culture of Britain in 2007.  I don't just mean our arts that are thriving.  I mean our values.  The minimum wage.  Paid holidays as a right.  Amongst the best maternity pay and leave in Europe.  Equality for gay people.

Or look at the debates that reverberate round the world today.  The global movement to support Africa in its struggle against poverty.  Climate change.  The fight against terrorism.  Britain is not a follower.  It is a leader.  It gets the essential characteristic of today's world: its interdependence.

This is a country today that for all its faults, for all the myriad of unresolved problems and fresh challenges, is comfortable in the 21st Century.
At home in its own skin, able not just to be proud of its past but confident of its future.

I don't think Northern Ireland would have been changed unless Britain had changed.  Or the Olympics won if we were still the Britain of 1997.
As for my own leadership, throughout these 10 years, where the predictable has competed with the utterly unpredicted, right at the outset one thing was clear to me. 

Without the Labour Party allowing me to lead it, nothing could ever have been done.  But I knew my duty was to put the country first.  That much was obvious to me when just under 13 years ago I became Labour's Leader.

What I had to learn, however, as Prime Minister was what putting the country first really meant.  Decision-making is hard.  Every one always says: listen to the people.  The trouble is they don't always agree.

When you are in Opposition, you  meet this group and they say why can't you do this?

And you say: it's really a good question.  Thank you.  And they go away and say: its great, he really listened.

You meet that other group and they say: why can't you do that?  And you say: it's a really good question.  Thank you.  And they go away happy you listened.
In Government you have to give the answer, not an answer, the answer.
And, in time, you realise putting the country first doesn't mean doing the right thing according to conventional wisdom or the prevailing consensus or the latest snapshot of opinion.

It means doing what you genuinely believe to be right.
Your duty is to act according to your conviction.

All of that can get contorted so that people think you act according to some messianic zeal.

Doubt, hesitation, reflection, consideration and re-consideration these are all the good companions of proper decision-making.

But the ultimate obligation is to decide.

Sometimes the decisions are accepted quite quickly.  Bank of England independence was one, which gave us our economic stability.

Sometimes like tuition fees or trying to break up old monolithic public services, they are deeply controversial, hellish hard to do, but you can see you are moving with the grain of change round the word.

Sometimes like with Europe, where I believe Britain should keep its position strong, you know you are fighting opinion but you are content with doing so.

Sometimes as with the completely unexpected, you are alone with your own instinct.

In Sierra Leone and to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, I took the decision to make our country one that intervened, that did not pass by, or keep out of the thick of it.

Then came the utterly unanticipated and dramatic.  September 11th 2001 and the death of 3,000 or more on the streets of New York.

I decided we should stand shoulder to shoulder with our oldest ally.

I did so out of belief.

So Afghanistan and then Iraq.

The latter, bitterly controversial.

Removing Saddam and his sons from power, as with removing the Taliban, was over with relative ease.
But the blowback since, from global terrorism and those elements that support it, has been fierce and unrelenting and costly.  For many, it simply isn't and can't be worth it.

For me, I think we must see it through.  They, the terrorists, who threaten us here and round the world, will never give up if we give up.

It is a test of will and of belief.  And we can't fail it.
So: some things I knew I would be dealing with.
Some I thought I might be.

Some never occurred to me on that morning of 2 May 1997 when I came into Downing Street for the first time.
Great expectations not fulfilled in every part, for sure.

Occasionally people say, as I said earlier, they were too high, you should have lowered them.
But, to be frank, I would not have wanted it any other way.  I was, and remain, as a person and as a Prime Minister an optimist.    Politics may be the art of the possible; but at least in life, give the impossible a go.

So of course the vision is painted in the colours of the rainbow; and the reality is sketched in the duller tones of black, white and grey.

But I ask you to accept one thing.  Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.

I may have been wrong.  That's your call.  But believe one thing if nothing else.  I did what I thought was right for our country.

I came into office with high hopes for Britain's future.  I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain's future.
This is a country that can, today, be excited by the opportunities not constantly fretful of the dangers.

People often say to me: it's a tough job.

Not really.

A tough life is the life the young severely disabled children have and their parents, who visited me in Parliament the other week.

Tough is the life my Dad had, his whole career cut short at the age of 40 by a stroke.

I have been very lucky and very blessed.

This country is a blessed nation.

The British are special.

The world knows it.

In our innermost thoughts, we know it.

This is the greatest nation on earth.

It has been an honour to serve it.  I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short.

Good Luck.

Page 2: It was obvious Labour had to change

It was obvious Labour had to change

Tony Blair knew long before he was elected leader that the Labour Party had to change many of its aged dogmas and shibboleths and radically rethink even some of its core principles if it was to form a Government with a substantial working majority.

Above all, he realised, the party had to dispel the perception that Labour was "for" the workers and "against" the bosses.

When elected leader in 1994, he immediately set about the task of releasing the party from some of the ancient principles which had held it back for years. His greatest achievement in this field was the abolition of the famous (or some would say "notorious") Clause IV of the party constitution.

This was, in short, "the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange".

Blair succeeded in abandoning Clause IV - regarded by some as the be-all-and-end-all of the socialism movement - with astonishing ease. This, more than anything else, signalled the birth of New Labour. And, even though Mr Blair was speaking the language of the Tories, he vowed that Labour would not leave everything to the market.

At the same time, however, he stressed that a Labour Government would not be solely the friend of the unions and favour them. He would treat all factions, whether representing the employed or the employer, with equal fairness.

This was a master stroke and was music to the ears of many Tory supporters who were fast losing faith in a Conservative Government that had been there too long and was becoming sleazy and seedy.

It was this attitude and this steadfastness in the face of a protesting left-wing, as much as anything else, that steered Labour to its stunning general election victory of 1997 - its first such triumph for 23 years.

A second victory, on that scale, followed in 2001, and then, in 2005, Mr Blair led the party to a third victory with a reduced, but still substantial, Commons majority.

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Future will recall one word: Iraq

Tony Blair's decision to offer British military support to US President George Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003 split his Government, his party and the country and is likely to be seen by history as the main legacy of his decade in power.

To the Prime Minister, it seemed the fulfilment of his pledge to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the US in its war on terror in the wake of the September 11 atrocities of 2001.

The attacks on New York and Washington had created a new climate in which the free world could no longer allow tyrants like Saddam Hussein to develop weapons of mass destruction which could fall into the hands of terrorists, Mr Blair argued.

Today, with the hunt for WMD long abandoned and Iraq mired in violence and bloodshed, many will see the decision to go to war as Mr Blair's biggest misjudgment.

Whatever else Blair has achieved as Prime Minister, it is likely, sadly for him, that future generations will sum him up in one word: Iraq.

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