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Not a Time for Soundbites: Tony Blair in Quotations


Kirsty OUP-UK

After ten years as Prime Minister, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is being succeeded by Gordon Brown. Today I’m taking a look back at Tony Blair’s time at the helm with a little help from the Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations, edited by Antony Jay. Below are some of the best and most recognisable quotes from the last decade or so, as well as a few words about Tony Blair by others including Margaret Thatcher and Jacques Chirac. If there are other quotations you can think of, then please feel free to leave a comment below.

0198610610-jay.jpg“Labour is the party of law and order in Britain today. Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.”
speech at the annual Labour Party Conference, 30 September 1993, when Blair was Shadow Home Secretary

“Ask me my three main priorities for Government, and I tell you: education, education, and education.”
speech at the Labour Party Conference, 1 October 1996

“We are not the masters. The people are the masters. We are the servants of the people… What the electorate gives, the electorate can take away.”
Blair addressing MPs on the first day of the new Parliament, 7 May 1997

“She was the People’s Princess, and that is how she will stay… in our hearts and in our memories forever.”
on hearing of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, 31 August 1997

“I am a pretty straight sort of guy.”
from an interview for On the Record about the government’s exemption of Formula One racing from the tobacco advertising ban, 17 November 1997

“This is not a time for soundbites. We’ve left them at home. I feel the hand of history upon our shoulders… I’m here to try.”
arriving in Belfast for the final stage of the Northern Irish negotiations, 8 April 1998

“In future, welfare will be a hand-up not a hand-out.”
from a lecture Blair gave in London, 19 March 1999

“This is not a battle between the United States and terrorism, but between the free and democratic world and terrorism. We therefore here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in this hour of tragedy and we, like them, will not rest until this evil is driven from our world.”
in Downing Street, London, 11 September 2001

“The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world.”
Labour Party Conference speech, 2 October 2001

“This is not the time to falter.”
speech in the House of Commons, 18 March 2003

“I can only go one way. I’ve not got a reverse gear.”
Labour Party Conference speech, 30 September 2003

“I’ve listened, and I’ve learned… I, we, the Government are going to focus now relentlessly on the priorities the people have set for us.”
speech outside Downing Street, 6 May 2005, after Labour’s historic third consecutive General Election victory

“I’m worried about that young man, he’s getting awfully bossy.”
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Tony Blair, quoted in The Irish Times, 6 February 1999

“I am happy to debate the past with the Prime Minister any day he likes. I have a big dossier on his past, and I did not even have to sex it up.”
Michael Howard, then Leader of the Conservative Party, at Prime Minister’s Questions, 12 November 2003

“You have been very rude, and I have never been spoken to like this before.”
Then French President Jacques Chirac, to Tony Blair, at the EU enlargement summit in Brussels, October 2002

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