'I've loved, I've laughed and cried.'

Politics Blair's was a good resignation speech, and suitably Shakespearean, philosophical in places, legacy sealing in others. Delivering it on his home turf allowed him to deliver it with the audience reacting in the correct places avoiding the uncomfortable pauses that have beset his appearances in recent weeks. As always he was desperate to come across as someone who could be trusted and I think it's the first time I've seen him admit to there being failures, but his message seemed to be -- put yourself in my shoes -- would your choices have been any different?

Watching it on television live at lunchtime though, I had an uncomfortable feeling throughout that I'd heard some of the sentiments before. Of course when he said what's sure to be his epitaph -- 'I did what I thought was right' I was geekily reminded of Ben Kenobi's advice to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back: 'You must do what you feel is right'. But there was something else, something ... elusive. And then it struck me -- he looked like he wanted to burst into song. Each time he said 'I did...'

He seemed desperate to say, 'I did it my way...'

Tonight I looked back over the speech and indeed the similarities with the Frank Sinatra standard are pretty amazing. Except for the section in the middle comparing what it's like in Britain before and after his primeministership, it's almost as though he gave his advisors a copy of the lyrics and said: 'Base it on that.' Here then is the proof -- with Blair first then Sinatra in italics. Take it away Tony and Frank ...

Blair's resignation speech
My Way

I have come back here, to Sedgefield, to my constituency, where my political journey began and where it is fitting it should end.
And now, the end is near

Today I announce my decision to stand down from the leadership of the Labour Party. The Party will now select a new Leader. On 27 June I will tender my resignation from the office of prime minister to the Queen. I have been prime minister of this country for just over 10 years. In this job, in the world today, that is long enough, for me, but more especially for the country. Sometimes the only way you conquer the pull of power is to set it down.
And so I face the final curtain

It is difficult to know how to make this speech today. There is a judgment to be made on my premiership. And in the end that is, for you, the people, to make.
My friend

I can only describe what I think has been done over these last 10 years and, perhaps more important, why.
I'll say it clear

I have never quite put it like this before.
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.

I was born almost a decade after the Second World War. I was a young man in the social revolution of the 60s and 70s. I reached political maturity as the Cold War was ending, and the world was going through a political, economic and technological revolution.
I've lived a life that's full.

I looked at my own country, a great country - wonderful history, magnificent traditions, proud of its past, but strangely uncertain of its future, uncertain about the future, almost old-fashioned.
I've traveled each and every highway;

I ask you to accept one thing.
And more, much more than this,

Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong. That's your call.
I did it my way.

I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short.
Regrets, I've had a few;

I don't think Northern Ireland would have been changed unless Britain had changed, or the Olympics won if we were still the Britain of 1997.
But then again, too few to mention.

As for my own leadership, throughout these 10 years, where the predictable has competed with the utterly unpredicted, right at the outset one thing was clear to me.
Without the Labour Party allowing me to lead it, nothing could ever have been done.
I did what I had to do

But I knew my duty was to put the country first. That much was obvious to me when just under 13 years ago I became Labour's Leader. What I had to learn, however, as prime minister was what putting the country first really meant.
And saw it through without exemption.

Decision-making is hard. Everyone always says: 'Listen to the people.' The trouble is they don't always agree. When you are in opposition, you meet this group and they say: 'Why can't you do this?' And you say: 'It's really a good question. Thank you.' And they go away and say: 'Its great, he really listened.' You meet that other group and they say: 'Why can't you do that?' And you say: 'It's a really good question. Thank you.' And they go away happy you listened. In government, you have to give the answer - not an answer, the answer.
I planned each charted course;

And, in time, you realise putting the country first doesn't mean doing the right thing according to conventional wisdom or the prevailing consensus or the latest snapshot of opinion.
Each careful step along the byway,

It means doing what you genuinely believe to be right.
But more, much more than this,

Your duty is to act according to your conviction.
I did it my way.

All of that can get contorted so that people think you act according to some messianic zeal.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew

Doubt, hesitation, reflection, consideration and re-consideration, these are all the good companions of proper decision-making.
When I bit off more than I could chew.

But the ultimate obligation is to decide. Sometimes the decisions are accepted quite quickly. Bank of England independence was one, which gave us our economic stability.
But through it all, when there was doubt,

Sometimes, like tuition fees or trying to break up old monolithic public services, they are deeply controversial, hellish hard to do, but you can see you are moving with the grain of change round the word.
I ate it up and spit it out.

Sometimes, like with Europe, where I believe Britain should keep its position strong, you know you are fighting opinion, but you are content with doing so.
I faced it all and I stood tall;

Sometimes, as with the completely unexpected, you are alone with your own instinct.
And did it my way.

In Sierra Leone and to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, I took the decision to make our country one that intervened, that did not pass by, or keep out of the thick of it. Then came the utterly unanticipated and dramatic - September 11th 2001 and the death of 3,000 or more on the streets of New York. I decided we should stand shoulder to shoulder with our oldest ally. I did so out of belief. So Afghanistan and then Iraq - the latter, bitterly controversial. Removing Saddam and his sons from power, as with removing the Taleban, was over with relative ease.
I've loved, I've laughed and cried.

But the blowback since, from global terrorism and those elements that support it, has been fierce and unrelenting and costly. For many, it simply isn't and can't be worth it.
I've had my fill;

For me, I think we must see it through. They, the terrorists, who threaten us here and round the world, will never give up if we give up.
my share of losing.

The British are special. The world knows it. In our innermost thoughts, we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth.
And now, as tears subside,

It is a test of will and of belief. And we can't fail it.
I find it all so amusing.

So, some things I knew I would be dealing with. Some I thought I might be. Some never occurred to me on that morning of 2 May 1997 when I came into Downing Street for the first time.
To think I did all that;

Great expectations not fulfilled in every part, for sure. Occasionally people say, as I said earlier: 'They were too high, you should have lowered them.' But, to be frank, I would not have wanted it any other way. I was, and remain, as a person and as a prime minister, an optimist. Politics may be the art of the possible - but at least in life, give the impossible a go.
And may I say - not in a shy way,

So of course the vision is painted in the colours of the rainbow, and the reality is sketched in the duller tones of black, white and grey.
No, oh no not me,

But I ask you to accept one thing. Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.
I did it my way.

I may have been wrong. That is your call. But believe one thing if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country.
For what is a man, what has he got?

I came into office with high hopes for Britain's future. I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain's future. This is a country that can, today, be excited by the opportunities not constantly fretful of the dangers. People often say to me: 'It's a tough job' - not really. A tough life is the life the young severely disabled children have and their parents, who visited me in Parliament the other week. Tough is the life my dad had, his whole career cut short at the age of 40 by a stroke. I have been very lucky and very blessed. This country is a blessed nation.
If not himself, then he has naught.

The British are special. The world knows it. In our innermost thoughts, we know it.
To say the things he truly feels;

This is the greatest nation on earth.
And not the words of one who kneels.

It has been an honour to serve it. I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short.
The record shows I took the blows -

Good luck.
And did it my way!


  1. Anonymous8:33 am

    It's not a Frank Sinatra standard, that God-forsaken song was written by Neil Sedaka...

  2. True. But it is pretty synonymous with Sinatra (and a whole range of other crooners) which is why ... etc etc