Thursday, 28 June 2007

Blair's farewell

There aren't many occasions in Parliament where you will look back and say 'I was there', but yesterday for Tony Blair's final PMQs would be one of them.

One of the little known quirks of the House of Commons is that if you want a guaranteed seat for a big occasion you have to turn up at 8am and put in a 'prayer card' in the seat you want. You then turn up at the start of business (1130 on a Wednesday) and attend the three minutes of prayers that starts each day, and then the seat is yours for the day.

Suffice it to say that there was a lot of prayer went on yesterday!

The occasion itself was a bit anticlimactic at first. Virtually every week the PM starts by saluting the British service personnel who have died in the previous week, and this always sets a sombre tone. Early on the Tory leader gets his 6 questions, and he chose to play it very low key, finding common ground and then just wishing TB well. Ming Campbell raised issues about how our injured service personnel are being treated and then also wished TB well.

Things got more lively later on - a Tory Eurosceptic accused TB of selling out at the recent Summit and TB finished off his reply with "Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehn & Arrivederci", a Lib Dem colleague asked about disestablishing the Church of England and TB said he really "wasn't bovvered", and then Ian Paisley gave a long testimonial which was suprisingly generous. Finally the 'father of the house' (ie the longest serving MP) paid a prepared tribute, and TB left to a standing ovation on all sides. His final comment was that although politics gets a bad press, most of the time it is the pursuit of noble causes - and on that, at least, I agree with him.


Anonymous said...

I didn't understand the "not bovvered" thing. Unseemly flippancy. Otherwise TB bowed out very well indeed.

Anonymous said...

Vote yes to Free Europe Constitution at - a constitution deserving its name: limiting the powers of politics.