I had hoped to get along to Trimdon today to hear Tony speak - alas mountainous work (and ward) commitments got in the way.
It's a shame, because I was going to take my Flip video along and record some of the proceedings. I'd even mentally sketched out an accompanying blog post, based around an Easter/Crucifixion/Resurrection theme. Believe me, it wouldn't have been in the least cliched (ahem).
It's doubly a pity because regular correspondent to this blog Paul Cain from across the pond challenges me in the previous thread on what I think about our former PM entering the race. Paul is in truth not Tony's biggest fan, and I was slightly surpised that he stopped at describing him as Lord Voldemort - surely He Who Can't Be Named is a mere toddler in wickedness compared to our former PM?
In truth, it's instructive that much of the right-wing blogosphere has got a fit of the vapours over this modest intervention. Watching the ridiculous Eric Pickles and slimy Chris Huhne on Newsnight tonight bluster and weave, you can see that Tony is still a potent force for Labour amongst the public.
Tony remains (until Gordon beats the record in 2024) Labour's most successful leader, with 3 election victories. Much more importantly, for this campaign, he can articulate key principles and dividing lines between ourselves and the Tories like no other British politician. I saw him do it countless times in speeches here in the North East and at Conference. It must be making Tory election planners break into a cold sweat - a pithy couple of lines from our ex-PM trumps any number of negative poster lorries they send round the country.
So expect the attacks and smears on Tony in the likes of the Mail and the Murdoch press to continue - they've invested heavily in Cameron winning (lietrally in the case of the Murdoch press). What Labour strategists know is that Tony Blair will play a small but significant part in winning the argument for Labour as we approach election day.