Tony Blair to depart in September says BBC

January 2, 2007

The BBC has reported today that Tony Blair has named September 2007 as the date of his departure as Prime Minister. Neverthess, the story suggests that the Prime Minister may still have left himself some wriggle room over the date

Last year, much was made of the timing of Tony Blair’s departure. The story had various stages, but considerable uncertainties remained. The political leadership battle beween Tony Blair and Gordon Brown appeared to be an unwelcome distraction. Statements from Downing Street,trying to take the heat out of the issue ,were poured over, as if the media, and Gordon Brown supporters in particular, were in a state of denial. Was the Prime Minister using weasel words and leaving a loophole through which he might eventually emerge, still PM?

Tony Blair’s departure: A definite date?

Much was interpretation, although May 2007 was for a while considered the favoured departure date. However, today, a report from the BBC stated that Blair has named September 2007 as his departure date. The story, which had no by-line to identify the reporter, also failed to cite the occasion on which the September date was named by Prime Minister Blair.

The BBC was severely criticized for failing to double check important news items, during their reporting of the Iraq ‘Dodgy Dossier’ affair. Senior executives lost their jobs. We must assume that lessons have been learned, and that the date of September 2007 is now taken as given by the BBC, based on the Prime Minister’s own words. The report today noted the date in the context of the Prime Minister’s New Year Message:

‘The message was delivered while Mr. Blair, who has said he will stand down in September this year, was on a winter break in Miami with his family’.

Or is the date still in doubt?

But is the matter of Blair’s departure now concluded? Even the BBC press release hedged its bets, noting that the PM’s New Year message began by noting that the communication is expected to be his final new year message in office’. I note the term is expected, rather than some expression such as ‘is now known to be’.

This suggests that whatever the Prime Minister has said, the matter is not completely settled as far as the reporter is concerned. Unless, of course, Tony Blair will retire when he says, and still finds a highly creative way of providing a New Year Message for 2008, sometime before September 2007.

Update

Wednesday Jan 3rd 2006

On BBC1’s Newsnight, yesterday evening, there was further speculation over the timing of Tony Blair’s departure. A May 2007 departure date still seems to have various factors favouring it. No mention was made of Tony Blair’s alleged statement naming September (above). What is certain: the timing issue has still not been resolved as precisely as the original BBC report claimed.