Thursday, May 10, 2007

The greatest nation on earth..

I'm sure like many thousands of people, I watched Blair's valedictory speech today as closely as possible, noting every overly-dramatic pause and Clinton-esque thumb-in-fist air prodding. It was a well choreographed event: he ended with the words 'good luck' - someone had a banner with those words written on it etc. It was mildly revolting to see the firmly converted clapping like seals in a zoo before he came on. Like many, I believe that Blair's legacy would have been on the whole a strong one, had it not been for the disastrous intervention in Iraq. But then again, had he not made the decision he did (to believe the lies about WMD), how could the British government have avoided damaging the relationship with the US? In part, people are angry about the stated reasons for deposing Saddam, not for the actual intervention itself. It mixes itself up with the smarmy-charmy charisma of Blair himself as a reflection of the politician who never fails to spin.

Most distasteful of all was his attempt at an emotional climax, with the appeal to Britain being the 'greatest nation on earth.' It sounded strangely anachronistic, and sat awkwardly with the earlier parts of his speech which gave the background to the modernisation of the Labour Party and the UK in the mid-1990s. Can anyone seriously claim that their country is the greatest nation on earth today? Being 'the greatest' sounds so modernist, a bit like a Le Corbusier house, 'labour-saving appliances' or the 'motor-car'. Certainly, when he said it, it did not have the ultimate crowd-pleasing effect his speech writer must have been straining for.

A new regime of British politics looks set to open up in a few weeks, when a man thoroughly bereft of charm, but with perhaps more principle and political conviction, takes the mantle. Those May days of 1997 seem a long time ago.


twinstaiye 3:36 pm  

Jeremy, I guess that is what he believed in, that Britain is the greatest nation on earth, I bet he is looking at it from a different perspectives, or what do you say about a nation that is so great that the Queen is still adore today, at least he did not say it is the most powerful nation on earth like the American would claim.

. 4:06 pm  

Could be!

BK,  4:19 pm  

But it IS the "greatest nation on earth"...

Tayo,  4:33 pm  

I thought it was an awesome speech. Like he said, he may not be perfect and he acknowledged that he made mistakes. All in all, regardless of the Iraq stain, Blair is da bomb & its great that your leader is optimistic about the future of the UK.

You should thank God you are not Nigerian. Wait for Obasanjo's goodbye speech and see what I mean.

Anonymous,  4:47 pm  

I see nothing wrong in Blair saying his country is the greatest if he genuinely believes. I guess it is an issue of self-esteem and pride in one's country.
I have seen Nigerians call there country the greatest in the world(giant of Africa etc)and I have met Singaporeans, Indians & Americans etc who feel their country is the greatest.

If Blair thinks Britain is the greatest, he should be entitled to that view.

Aaron Rowe 5:34 pm  

I loved the soundtrack the the Beeb (in the UK) put on their montage of his career. The soundtrack was "Don't Look Back In Anger" by Oasis.

Compare that to "Things Can Only Get Better" by D:Ream that heralded his arrival.

Anonymous,  12:09 am  

I am going to miss Tony Blair. Apart from Iraq, he has done so much for the UK. I made a list of pros and cons of his term in office and the pros certainly outweighed the cons.

I wish him the best. Strange, but I have been his greatest critique in the last 2 years

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