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Tony Blair speech to the Labour Sports Dinner

Tony Blair addresses the Labour Sports Dinner


We have here tonight many successful icons from British sport. All of them winners.

What does it take?

Endurance. Mental focus. The desire to win. Team work.

Bit like politics then.

Today there’s a new generation under Ed’s leadership and a new team behind him.

Great teams are those that re-write the rule book.

There is a rulebook in politics that goes something like this: Labour governs. Labour loses. Tories take over. Labour goes crazy. Tories carry on governing.

Time to re-write that script.

Actually it is being re-written by them and by us. They’re on their way down. We’re on our way up.

One goal in our sights: make it a one term Tory Government.

I am not tribal in my politics.

It’s been fantastic on the Olympics to see a continuity of Government policy and all parties deserve praise for that.

But for me there have always been 3 reasons to be Labour.

We start with those at a disadvantage in life and work our way up.

They start with those at the top and hope any good trickles down.

We see the ladder of opportunity. We celebrate those that climb it. Many such are here tonight. But we want to roll that ladder down. We want to be present at the bottom helping more people to get on it; and where there are those who are struggling, give them a strong shoulder to stand on.

That’s why we built new hospitals and schools in the poorest communities first; why we gave part-time workers the same rights as full-time workers; created Sure Start; improved child-care; helped the poorest pensioners; doubled maternity leave; promoted equal rights for gay people; invested in school sport and introduced the first ever minimum wage. It’s what makes us Labour and we should always be proud of it.

Second, we know that a good society doesn’t depend simply on good government. But we do believe that Government properly reformed and modernised, is an instrument of improvement and that a caring society can never compensate for an uncaring Government. And sometimes Government has to lead.

It took Government in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors to conceive, create and build the extraordinary Olympic Park the world will see on July 27th, regenerating some of the poorest and most forgotten parts of Britain. The Olympics is not just a global sporting event. It’s a great British construction project that shows what partnership can do when the political will is there to do it.

Third, we’re optimists by nature though realists by experience. We think injustice can be corrected. Evil overcome. Wrong put right. We know it doesn’t always happen. But we know it can. We believe in the infinite possibility of progress; that with good will and determined action, humanity can always do better and be better.

At its best that is the Olympic spirit and at the time it was the spirit that made us bid and made us win.

The London we presented and the Britain we showcased was one proud of its past but ready for the future.

Different people from different backgrounds, races, faiths and cultures but all brought together under one roof.

So it’s an honour to be part of it and it is an honour to be here tonight to support our Party, whose values and principles I have always believed in and always will. And to support Ed, support his leadership, support his drive to make our Party win.

Leaders need support. What they usually get is ‘advice’.

So Ed, you don’t need my advice but you will have my support.

And together we can support this great British achievement in hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – a proud time for Britain, a proud time to be British, and a spectacular time for the world.