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Blair Pledges to Help Labor to Fourth-term Election Victory
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British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged on Tuesday afternoon to lead the Labor Party to a fourth-term election victory.

"I will help build a unified party with a strong platform, for the only legacy that has ever mattered to me is a fourth term election victory that will allow us to keep changing Britain for the better," he said in his last speech as leader to the Labor Party conference in Manchester.

Blair thanked the Labor party for giving him the "extraordinary privilege of leading you these past 12 years" in a farewell speech punctuated by loud applause and marked by standing ovations.

Reflecting on past achievements and how politics had changed over the years, Blair said "We defied conventional political wisdom and thereby changed it."

Admitting it was hard to let go, Blair noted however, "It is also right to let go." He praised Chancellor Gordon Brown, saying he was a "remarkable man ... a remarkable servant to this country."

"New Labor would never have happened, and three election victories would never have been secured, without Gordon Brown."

Calling the attention to the "real rest of leadership," Blair said it was not about what Labor had achieved in the past; but what it could achieve for Britain's future.

On the challenges ahead, Blair touched on globalization, advances of science and technology and the need for public service reforms.

He also took the opportunity to clarify his stand on the fight against terrorism, saying "This terrorism isn't our fault... It's not the consequence of foreign policy."

"This is a war fought by extremists who pervert the true faith of Islam... If we retreat now, hand Iraq to Al Qaida and sectarian death squads and Afghanistan back to Al Qaida and the Taliban, we won't be safer; we will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril," he said.

He vowed, to much applause, that from now until he left office, "I will dedicate myself, with the same commitment I have given to Northern Ireland, to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine. I may not succeed. But I will try because peace in the Middle Eastis a defeat for terrorism."

Noting that "it's hard sometimes to be America's strongest ally," Blair stressed the truth that "nothing we strive for, from the world trade talks to global warming, to terrorism and Palestine can be solved without America, or without Europe."

He urged the party to have faith in itself and to be optimistic about the future, saying that the next election won't be about "image," but about "who has the strength, judgement, weight and ideas for Britain's future in an uncertain world."

(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2006)

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