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Blair: On the way out, but reluctant to let go.

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Blair: On the way out, but reluctant to let go.

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The British Prime Minister used his 13th and last speech to the Labour Conference to issue a rallying call to the party faithful. With the Conservatives under David Cameron ahead in the polls, an at-times emotional Tony Blair urged his supporters to unite and commit themselves to winning the next election. “So it’s up to you,” he said, “you take my advice, you don’t take it, it’s your choice… but what ever you do, I’m always with you… head and heart… you’ve given me all that I’ve ever achieved and all that we have achieved for the country… Next year I will not be making this speech, but in the years to come wherever I am, whatever I do I’m with you… wishing you well, I’m wanting you to win… you’re the future now, so make most of it…”

Blair’s efforts were rewarded with a seven minute standing ovation from the party rank-and-file. But while the Prime Minister waxed lyrical, the web of intrigue concerning his successor continued to be spun. Education Minister Alan Johnson refused to confirm if his hat would be thrown in the ring for potential leaders: “This week is about concentrating on the party… concentrating on policies for the people of this country, not concentrating on ourselves or our own future.”, he told reporters.

Waiting in the wings, Finance Minister Gordon Brown came in for praise during Blair’s address but was not endorsed as a future leader.