Tony Blair’s last Trade Union Congress address was something of a pantomime with jeers, heckles and a walkout. Delegates carried banners urging the British Prime Minister to stand down and pull troops out of Iraq. But in his final address, the Labour leader sought to regain unity, telling union activists the party had to pull together in the face of a Conservative resurgence:
“Thank you Congress for that kind introduction, more or less. You know, there was a point of order just a moment or two ago about all the media here. It is actually a pity that the media is not here to hear about the union learning representatives that we introduced, rather than people making a protest.”
Despite the applause, delegates had a warning for the prime minister. T&G Union General Secretary Tony Woodley:
“The pressure is on Tony Blair to go as soon as possible because, as I have said on more than one occasion now, we have the Welsh Assembly Elections and Scottish Parliamentary Elections coming only round the corner and to stand even a fighting chance of holding our own at both of those parliaments then the prime minister has to have sorted this out no later than March.”
Last week, following a rebellion in the party ranks, Blair announced he would stand down within a year; his departure paving the way for his presumed successor, Gordon Brown, to take up the reigns.