In government, you have to give the answer. Not AN answer – THE answer.
And in time you realise that putting the country first doesn’t mean doing the right thing according to conventional wisdom, or the prevailing consensus or the latest snapshot of opinion. It means doing what you genuinely believe to be right. That your duty as prime minister is to act according to your conviction.
. . .
And then came the utterly unanticipated and dramatic – September 11 2001, and the death of 3,000 or more on the streets of New York. And I decided we should stand shoulder to shoulder with our oldest ally. And I did so out of belief. And so Afghanistan, and then Iraq, the latter bitterly controversial. And removing Saddam and his sons from power, as with removing the Taliban, was done with relative ease – but the blowback since, in global terrorism and those elements that support it, has been fierce and unrelenting and costly. And for many, it simply isn’t and can’t be worth it.
For me, I think we must see it through. The terrorists who threaten us around the world will never give up if we give up. It is a test of will and belief, and we can’t fail it.
. . .
But I ask you to accept one thing. Hand on heart, I did what I thought was right.
I may have been wrong. That is your call. But believe one thing, if nothing else. I did what I thought was right for our country.
. . .
I give my thanks to you, the British people, for the times that I have succeeded, and my apologies to you for the times I have fallen short. But good luck. Tony Blair
Read the full text of Tony Blair’s resignation speech given May 10, 2007.