Monday, September 25, 2006

Her other bloke

It's not easy seeing your beloved leave the house in order to go and see another man she makes no secret of loving. But when that bloke is Tony Blair, there is a context.

With Labour in town this week there are opportunities aplenty to meet the top brass of the ruling party. But on Sunday we were both invited to see the PM meet readers of the Manchester Evening News at a special *secret* location (the new HQ). Baby sitting issues meant we ended up having to flip a coin for the golden ticket. It worked out right, and as it was Rachel's birthday, it meant more to her than it did to me.

The highlights are as follows. Blair is an accomplished conversationalist. He comes across as polite, passionate and engaging. He was thrown an intelligent curve ball on Kyoto by my old pal, comrade Steve Connor. A garbled question on regeneration was dealt with politely, though his special adviser Ruth Turner, once of this parish, looked suitably confused. There was only one question from a woman, Manchester's fiestiest - Angie Robinson- who put her hand up for the beleagured business owner.

There were no questions about his succession, having pointedly declined to endorse Gordon Brown earlier that day. Good. I've long maintained that there's little wrong with Tony Blair. He's an honest and courageous conviction politician. The problem is his party. Just watch them implode in an orgy of indulgent infighting this week in the manner they honed during years of opposition.

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