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Mr Blair has apparently admitted that announcing that he wouldn’t serve a fourth term in office was a mistake. From the Beeb:
He said: “What happened when you get into your third term and you are coming up to your tenth year is that it really doesn’t matter what you say, you are going to get people saying it should be time for a change.
“This speculation, I think, probably would happen whatever decision you take.
“Now, it was an unusual thing for me to say but people kept asking me the question so I decided to answer it. Maybe that was a mistake.”
So is he finally admitting that he’s done something strategically wrong? Well, no. The PMOS has come out, all guns blazing, with a ‘What he meant to say’ statement:
What he had intended to say was, she said: “It was a mistake… to believe that the announcement would kill off the speculation as to when I would resign.”
Except, clearly not, as he had a fully formed sentence there already. But hey. The slightly ridiculous thing is that what Mr Blair says no longer seems to tally with, well, what Mr Blair actually says. Just a couple of weeks back, Nick Robinson discovered this problem. He looked through the official transcript of the Prime Minister’s monthly press conference to find when he had said this:
Look as you say I am hopeful we will get the vast majority of Labour MPs behind us, in fact I am absolutely sure we will get the vast majority. The question is whether we manage to get enough to get it through with Labour votes alone. But in a sense the issue is doing the right thing for the country, it’s what the country expects and of course I want to do it with Labour MPs in full support. Look I think this is a very, very critical issue for the Labour Party for its instincts, for what it’s about, for what it is trying to do.
He had said it, it was there on tape. But the official transcript said:
I think I have said what I have said on Guantanamo. And on the first part, you know if you look at the school system at the moment…
Now, there’s always a good place for corrections and clarifications. They’re an important part of everyday life. But when you are making them up (as seemingly with the first) or just not acknowledging that a change has been made (as with the second), you’re getting into very, very dodgy territory.