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Blair's Final Day as Prime Minister

It's official. Tony Blair becomes the quartet's (the USA, the EU, the UN and Russia) envoy to the MId--East, a post vacant since since former World Bank President James Wolfensohn left at the end of April, 2006.

'The Washington Post' reported that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice first proposed Blair for the job. I suppose the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz would have been stretching the credibility of the US's once honest broker position in the Mid East, but predictably Robert Fisk is no less scathing when the idea of choosing Blair was publicly mooted last week...Tony Blair's title is simply Mr. Blair for the time being. (forgive the liberty taken by Fisk) 'How can Lord Blair possibly be given this peace'. Fisk predicts:

Of course, he'll (Blair) be in touch with Mahmoud Abbas, will try to marginalise Hamas, will talk endlessly about "moderates". We'll have to listen to him pontificating about morality, how he's completely confident that he's doing the right thing (this is the same man who postponed a ceasefire in Lebanon last year in order to share George Bush's ridiculous hope of an Israeli victory over Hezbollah) in bringing peace to the Middle East...

The Palestinians held elections - the democratic variety - and Hamas won. But Blair will presumably not be able to talk to Hamas. He'll need to talk only to Abbas's flunkies, to negotiate with an administration described so accurately this week by my old colleague Rami Khoury as a "government of the imagination".

There will be appeals for restraint "on all sides", endless calls for "moderation", none for justice (which is all the people of the Middle East have been pleading for for 100 years).

arnold_tony1.jpgBut before he leaves for the Middle East, Tony had one last foreign dignitary to welcome. In Ouentin Lett's rather idiosyncratic prose in a column in 'The Daily Mail', read '1 won't be back, Tony promises the Terminator'

Tony Blair's last foreign-dignitary visitor in Downing Street was, by happy event, the sometime muscleman and film actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie, who is now, magnificently, the Governor of California, turned up for a breakfast meeting at No. 10.

After entering the room with a wide-thighed, almost sideways gait, the Governator seemed to have remarkably little to say for himself. He showed himself to be an accomplished waffler. He spoke repeatedly, in an unexciting monotone, about "leadership". Mr Blair, or rather Mr Blear, had shown grade leadership not once, not twice, not thrice but, by my counting, some seven times.

After breakfast with Arnold, Blair took his final gracious curtain call at Wesminister, at the House of Commons. See Video.

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