Cheers greet Blair as Brown faces election pressure
Tony Blair chose to announce his departure in one of the few places where he is guaranteed a warm reception.
The prime minister was greeted with cheers by local activists at the Durham Trimdon Labour Club.
But despite significant losses in last week’s elections, a poll on Blair’s legacy suggests the majority of voters still grudgingly respect the prime minister.
A Guardian/ICM poll found that 60 per cent of voters think Mr Blair has been a force for change in the country, rising to 70 per cent of Labour supporters.
Asked to consider his entire decade in power, 80 per cent of Labour voters said Mr Blair had been good for the country. Even among all voters, 44 per cent of people still back the prime minister’s record, significantly beating Labour’s performance in opinion polls and the recent elections.
Despite the ongoing cash-for-honours saga, 44 per cent of all voters and nearly three-quarters of Labour supporters said Blair “is an honest kind of guy”.
Iraq seems likely to emerge as Mr Blair’s legacy, with 64 per cent of voters claiming the prime minister has been overly concerned with foreign policy.
This mirrors a Communicate poll earlier this month which found the vast majority of people think Mr Blair will be remembered for Iraq, followed by his relationship with George Bush.
As the British people make their final judgements on Tony Blair, the Liberal Democrats have called for a snap election to officially endorse his successor.
Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell have submitted a motion to trigger a general election after Mr Blair leaves office on June 27th.
The Labour party will vote for their next leader after a seven week contest. However, Sir Menzies argued the British people should choose the next prime minister.
“Before the last general election Tony Blair pledged to serve a full third term and the British electorate voted for him on this basis,” he said.
“Now the prime minister is leaving it is only right that the British public have their say on who will be their next prime minister.”
Reflecting on Mr Blair’s successes, Sir Menzies said he would rightly be remembered as the first Labour leader to win three successive general elections.
But, he said his decade in power would be characterised by missed opportunities and overshadowed by Iraq- “the greatest foreign policy mistake since Suez”.
Reflecting on his premiership today, Mr Blair insisted he had done “what he thought was right”. He insisted he had left the country in a better state than in 1997.