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Tony Blair’s smile
10/05/07
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Pyotr Romanov) –

Tony Blair is about to retire. It does not matter when exactly he leaves his post, tomorrow or in summer. The decision has already been made – he will first retire as the Labour Party leader and will then pass on his post of prime minister to his successor in the party.
The world community is not tired of Tony Blair. During the last decade, he was one of the most charismatic, clever and energetic world leaders, and his disarming smile will be remembered after he disappears from memory like the famous Cheshire cat from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
He is also leaving the political scene like the Cheshire cat – of his own free will. As Blair said ironically, he would not wish to repeat the destiny of the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher, who was so certain of the nation’s love that she obviously stayed in office too long, and was asked to leave by the leaders of her own party.
Blair has realized what the smart Thatcher failed to see – ten years are nothing for the world, but enough for compatriots to get tired of any politician, even if he or she does not make any major mistakes.
Tony Blair is leaving to save his own reputation and his party’s image. The Labour party will have a hard time at the future parliamentary elections because of the Iraqi war burden. The Labour hope that Blair will take this burden away with him.
Speaking strictly, it would not be correct to call Blair’s position on Iraq a mistake because it logically flows from Britain’s long-standing strategic line towards close partnership with the United States, and as such it requires sacrifice. London will not give up this partnership under either Labour or Tory government. If the war in Iraq coincided with Tory rule, they would have to carry this burden.
Blair’s real mistake is the cash-for-peerage scandal. It transpired in March 2006 that some big-league businessmen received seats in the House of Lords, peerages and other titles in exchange for handsome secret loans to the Labour Party. This seems to be the only stain on his reputation.
Tony Blair has many achievements to his credit. He has carried out successful reforms in healthcare, school education and the job market. During his term in office, the economy has entered a stage of steady growth; almost three million jobs have been created in the country in the last decade. Finally, Tony Blair has reached settlement in Ulster, which is a major victory.
Blair has done much to help the West better understand modern Russia. At one time, Thatcher acquainted the West with Mikhail Gorbachev. Blair did the same for Vladimir Putin. The two leaders disagree on many issues but it is clear to Tony Blair that without Russia the world is not complete, and hence, Moscow’s position must be taken seriously.
Blair will himself decide when exactly he will step down. He will also choose whether to remain in the House of Commons or go for international politics. It is rumored that he may become an international special envoy to the Middle East or Africa, or a specialist on climate change. Maybe he will decide to write his memoirs and earn up to 10 million pounds. It is also rumored that he would like to establish an international charity fund.
All these variants are a possibility but the main point is that leaving his positions in time, Tony Blair will be able to decide his destiny as he sees fit, and this is quite an achievement.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti. -0-