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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 16:55 GMT
Blair reaches to text generation
Tony Blair
Mr Blair admitted he had only just learned to use text messaging
Tony Blair stepped into the mobile phone era when he took part in a live text chat with thousands of callers.

After admitting his texting skills were underdeveloped, Mr Blair relied on a team of helpers during the 35-minute forum set up by phone giants O2.

The prime minister revealed he had learnt how to text for the first time just a few days earlier.

But he was only able to answer a fraction of the 6,000 questions on issues such as Iraq and immigration.

"My texting talents are poor, let's say underdeveloped," he told Capital FM.

"My children are texters. My daughter took me through it the other night.

"The predictive one I wasn't too bad on, but the other way - let's just say it would have taken me a very long time to send a short message."
It's not bad. Beats working for a living doesn't it
Tony Blair on his 180,000 salary

Answering the wide range of questions, Mr Blair said he believed Iraq would become democratic and that he hoped George Bush would "intensify" efforts on the Middle East peace process.

He also suggested concerns over the impact of immigration on the UK were "exaggerated" and that some people had got the issue out of perspective.

He praised Gordon Brown, again, as a "brilliant chancellor", saying: "I've always said he would make an excellent prime minister."

'More just'

But when asked if he thought his wife, Cherie, would make a good job of running the country, he countered: "Fortunately, that's not a question that arises."

Nelson Mandela was the person he would most like to meet, he said - a day before holding talks with the former South African president.

And he hoped his legacy as prime minister would be a "more just society".

Mobile phone
Downing Street said Mr Blair wanted to reach out to younger voters

Mr Blair tipped the Band Aid 20 single recorded recently by today's stars as the Christmas number one.

When asked to reveal how much he earned, he said it was public knowledge that his annual salary was 180,000.

"It's not bad. Beats working for a living doesn't it?"

Downing Street said it was the first time Mr Blair had tried technology of this type and that he saw it as a way of communicating with 18 to 24-year-olds

O2 later said the average age of people sending in questions to the prime minister was 25.

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