Bournemouth (England), Sept. 30 (Reuters): British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged today that his support for war in Iraq had divided the nation and the world, but told his ruling Labour Party he had no regrets and would battle on.
Blair came out punching in a crucial speech to his party’s annual conference, reminding his followers that he gave them power and promising more to come. He pointedly opened his remarks saying he was the first Labour leader to address the conference after managing to stay in government for more than six years. There were few apologies. Not for the Iraq war so unpopular with Labour’s Left-wing activists, nor for reforms to schools and hospitals.
Instead, in what amounted to a “back me or sack me” stance, he pledged to go on governing for years to come, a snub to supporters of his finance minister, Gordon Brown, who want their man to take the reins.