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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It was not a pleasant day for Tony, as he faced a meeting of the TUC, Britains largest Trade Unions, obvious to all he was a man playing the last few bars of his song.
For the most part, the demonstrations during Tony's speech, were discurete. Not much shoutng or heckling, but many holding signs protesting Britain's involvement in Afghanistan and Iran, and forcing a reaction from Tony to justifiy British military presence in those areas..
The fact this was his last appearance at the TUC as prime minister was clearly a matter of celebration for some in the hall - notably those protesters who did their best to disrupt it.
But Mr Blair's relationship with the unions has never been close.. Indeed, one of New Labour's core policies was to distance the party from the movement.
And there have always been those who wanted him out and those who disagreed fundamentally with his policies, particularly on the public services and Iraq.

And that was the atmosphere that hung over the entire event. Even when he was pushing all the right union buttons - the minimum wage, tackling pensioner poverty and so on - there was just no enthusiasm from the hall.
There was a bit of emotion as he told the protesters they were playing directly into their enemies' hands.
And on more than one occasion Mr Blair showed his own anger at his critics shouting from the body of the hall and suggested he was getting "warmed up" for the clashes.

But, as the proceedings drew to a close, he launched into an off-the-cuff farewell performance that openly recognised he was nearing retirement - and in the process led to speculation he was planning an earlier exit than currently expected.
He gave a passionate defence of his record, combined with a warning that there is no such thing as a perfect government.
The only thing that mattered, he suggested, was being in power in order to transform society in the way his government had done over the past decade.
That got a bit more warmth - but there was no ovation and it appeared that even some of his supporters had already moved on.

So, the Blair farewell tour has started in earnest and, in two weeks' time, moves to Manchester for the Labour conference.
Even before today, there has been plenty of speculation that he will receive a rough ride at that rally as well.

As a side note, Nigel Farage has been elected leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) to replace Roger Knapman.
Mr Farage is an MEP for the South East and already UKIP's leader in the European Parliament.

Mr Farage pledged to make UKIP a "truly representative party", ending its image as a single issue pressure group.
At a news conference after the count, Mr Farage explained what he hoped to achieve.
"There is now an enormous vacuum in British politics.

"David Cameron clearly has decided to abandon Conservatism, and on the big issues of the day you cannot put a cigarette paper between the three major parties.
"There is no real voice of opposition out there today, and the UK Independence Party - I know we're known as being a single issue pressure group - well we're most certainly not going to be a single issue pressure group in the future.
"We're going to be a party fighting on a broad range of domestic policies and together if we're united and disciplined we will become the real voice of opposition in British politics."
He said he intended to make UKIP "a fully-fledged political party that is offering the public a real choice".

UKIP plans to field some 500 candidates for the next General Election, and it hopes to improve it's runing record..
UKIP has never had anyone elected to the House of Commons, but gained 12 Euro MPs when it finished third in 2004's European Parliament elections, with 16% of all votes.
The party did not do as well as it had hoped at last year's general election, losing its deposit in more than 450 seats, but it has begun to establish itself as a force in Westminster by-elections, coming third in two recent contests.

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