It is common for world renown rock bands, famous sopranos and big-time tenors to enter retirement with a splash. Known as the Farewell World Tour, they depart their working lives to cheers, adulation and the elevated admiration of their fans.
So, following the lead of Nana Mouskouri, British prime minister Tony (I heart George) Blair is making an exit of rock-star proportions and taking his show on the road, one last time.
Tony Blair brings down the curtain on his decade as Prime Minister today as he announces a departure plan that will see him leave office towards the end of June.Blair will announce, on 10 May, that he will leave around the end of June. In a tightly orchestrated tour, Blair will visit France, the United States, South Africa, Germany and Belgium. He will leave John (I
But for much of his remaining six weeks in power Mr Blair will be absent from Downing Street, with at least five overseas trips planned for later this month and June. What aides are calling his farewell tour will begin tomorrow with a trip to Paris to see Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president-elect.
The Mirror received a faxed copy of a "leaked" memo out of 10 Downing Street giving all the details of the spin surrounding Blair's departure. It's quite remarkable and the detail would be more appropriate for a new prime minister rather than one who is being barked out of office.
This is politics at its most raw. Publicly the PM is vague and dismissive of a likely departure date. Privately a highly detailed battle plan is in place that aims to catapult Mr Blair out of office and into elder statesmanship with as many bells and whistles as possible.So, perhaps it's the fact that he would have a problem squeezing his ego into the same room as his fellow egotist that caused his handlers to avoid sending him to an Ottawa play date.
As they bunker down in the PM's study at the back of No10 over endless cups of milky tea, the level of detail that has been nailed down is breathtaking.
Mr Blair will leave, as he arrived, on a brilliantly orchestrated PR campaign. He will be spun from office.
But what both camps will be stunned to learn from the memo is that the main thing on the PM's mind is the PM himself.
Blair is going for a legacy departure. Cheers, adulation and admiration. Timothy Garton Ash points directly at Blair's legacy. He enabled a half-wit across the Atlantic and aided and abetted a corrupt US regime in its quest for global hegemony.
Blair keeps insisting that history will give the verdict on Iraq, but we can already say this with confidence: Iraq is a disaster. To describe it as a case of liberal interventionism is the greatest disservice anyone could do to the cause of liberal interventionism. We went to war on a false prospectus about weapons of mass destruction and without proper authority, either legal or political. The failure to prepare for the likely consequences was a disgrace. It would be difficult for things to be worse than they were under Saddam Hussein, but they now are. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or maimed, and there is no end in sight. US intelligence agencies say Iraq has become a breeding ground for a new generation of terrorists. The hundreds of billions of dollars squandered on the war and occupation could have bettered the lives of many of the world's poor.Nothing more needs be said. Blair would do well to save British taxpayer a few pounds and leave 10 Downing Street with as little noise as possible. Sending an international embarrassment on a world tour is obscene.
Drawing away troops from Afghanistan when the job there was only half done, we have created two failures instead of one possible success. The Shia-Sunni rift has been inflamed across the Muslim world. The theocratic dictatorship of Iran has been greatly strengthened. The moral authority of the US is in tatters, and that of the United Kingdom dragged down with it. Iraq has alienated Muslims everywhere, including our own fellow citizens. Need I go on? This is the most comprehensive British foreign policy disaster since the Suez crisis of 1956.