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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 19:16 GMT 20:16 UK
Labour hails 'class act' Blair
Tony Blair has given his final speech at a Labour Party conference as prime minister. It was an emotional farewell prompting a standing ovation of nearly 10 minutes.

But outside the conference hall what did the politicians and delegates really make of it?

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL, TONY BLAIR'S FORMER SPOKESMAN

"He was a class act in 1994 and he is a class act now.

"I think history will judge him as, certainly electorally, the most successful Labour leader there has ever been and, I think, one of the exceptional prime ministers of our time."

FOREIGN SECRETARY MARGARET BECKETT

"I thought it was fantastic, probably one of his best, very moving, a great finale.

"Of course he is a hard act to follow."

CULTURE SECRETARY TESSA JOWELL

"The great hallmark of Tony Blair is that he doesn't have one conversation with the party and another conversation with the public. He would say all those things in private just as he said them to the conference hall today.

"His consistency, his integrity and his sheer decency shone throughout the speech and is why the hall reacted as it did.

"I think that today, everybody feels, is Tony Blair's day.

"This is the day that the party says thank you to Tony Blair for what you have done for the party, what you've done for the government and most of all what you've done for the people of this country."

ANN CLWYD, PARLIAMENTARY LABOUR PARTY CHAIRMAN

"He was relaxed, he was proud, he made jokes which people laughed at and I think people felt sorrow that he was going.

"Some people may not, but I think the vast majority of people felt sorry that Tony Blair is finishing as prime minister."

ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY DAVID MILIBAND

"That was a master class in how to deliver a party conference speech.

"What he is saying is that the problems have changed, the challenges have changed, the values have not changed.

"I have confidence in this party because it has always been the Tory dream that somehow there was only one New Labour politician in the Labour Party.

"We have learnt our lesson, we are not interested in being unelectable."

JOHN MCDONNELL, LABOUR MP AND LEADERSHIP CONTENDER

"It was a good farewell but it demonstrated that New Labour is drawing to an end. The era is over and we are going to move on.

"The issue is how do we restore credibility in a Labour government?

"I'm not in any way wanting to rain on the parade but the real world does have to intrude every now and then and the real world is that a lot of this speech is what we have heard before and it didn't explain why we are in a 19-year low in the opinion polls, why we lost the local government elections and lost 100 seats off our majority at the last General Election.

"That's about people wanting change."

EX-MINISTER GEOFFREY ROBINSON

"It was a breathtaking speech. He will be missed very much but we will have to get on with it the best we can.

"Today was really about celebrating what Tony has done, it was a breathtaking performance in the hall today - Tony at his best.

"Brilliant, a most fitting culmination to a decade in office.

"Everybody felt exalted by it. He used humour to defuse the situation. He has left the party in good heart."

WOLFGANG WALTER, EJECTED FROM LAST YEAR'S CONFERENCE

"The only reason why there is this so-called war on terrorism is American foreign policy supported by its fellow traveller, Tony Blair.

"They are responsible...

"And some people engaging in terrorism whether Bin Laden existed or not."

JOHN HANNETT, GENERAL SECRETARY, USDAW

"This was a speech that reminded us of Labour's massive achievements over the last decade but also set the government back on course to get back to the real business of running the country.

"Our members have been telling us loud and clear that the events of recent weeks have been an unnecessary distraction and this speech showed that the prime minister has listened.

"Tony Blair has been a great reforming prime minister and this speech was one of his best."

PAUL KENNY, GMB UNION GENERAL SECRETARY

"This was a powerful speech by a consummate performer and marks the closing chapter of the Blair era.

He gave those in waiting a lesson in the responsibility and power of government."

JIM MOHER, LABOUR COUNCILLOR, BRENT, LONDON

"What a way to go! One of his greatest speeches. A unifying speech, a healing speech, a fighting speech in terms of the Labour party.

"With that inspiration I think he's given us the clue as to how to renew our message to the public and pick ourselves up again and go forward after he's gone."

ED DAVEY, LIBERAL DEMOCRATS' CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN

"In more than an hour of oratory, he failed to tackle the crucial question the country needs answered - exactly when is he going?

"The true legacy of his nine years in power is one of opportunities squandered.

"To highlight the introduction of a DNA database and the imposition of ID cards as examples of New Labour's 'progressive politics' is extraordinary."




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