This isn’t intended to open a debate on where things have gone right or wrong or what people thought about him but having just sat and listened to his final Prime Ministers Question Time a curious sense has come over me that somehow things won’t quite be the same.
For me, Blair was the first Prime Minister that was voted in on an Election I could vote in. I’m not saying I voted for him (or who I did vote for if not him), but it was the first election when I felt that I was part of the process. Sure, I remember other elections beforehand, especially when Major won once again for the Tories when nobody believed it would happen, but this time it felt different because I was involved and I think that in some way (for me at least) its why I’m feeling more than a little odd that things are about to change.
It was all less charged than I expected his final appearance to be, but as things proceeded he began to lighten up, and the small jokes and asides about his future began to emerge (the crack about the Church of England being particularly well put). Curiously it was left to the back benchers to provide the challenging questions, although these were far less vicious than they could and everyone seemed to skirt well clear of the elephant in the cupboard that remains Iraq. Perhaps fittingly the penultimate word came from Rev. Ian Paisley who thanked him for his part in the Northern Ireland Peace Process meaning that some of the good that he has done will be recognised, before he left and business began as usual.
Like many I expect to be making the Blair / Brown mistake over the next few weeks, especially as for the majority of us there hasn’t been the sense of a possible change due to the lack of an Election (another can of worms I don’t want to open) and it will be fascinating to see what happens, but even so it all feels more than a little weird.