Blair the traveller speaks for the children

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The Independent Online
Tony Blair took to the podium at the United Nations yesterday morning - the same echoing and marble spot where Kruschev banged his shoe so many decades ago - and made a plea for the children. His own children.

The mini-Blairs, uprooted from their familiar surroundings of Islington in north London, are not too enthused about Daddy's new job, it seems. "My three young children in London complain I am never at home," the Prime Minister lamented to the 50-odd heads of state and government ranged before him.

Considerably more bright-eyed than most of his counterparts at the unfortunately named Ungass meeting on the global environment, Mr Blair himself did not appear too battered by his travels. His transport, after all, was Concorde, which was waiting to take him back to his brood again last night. It is true, though, that his new life has so far turned him into something closer to a globe-trotter-for-Britain than a custodian of Nor 10.

In little more than four weeks, he has attended summits in Nordwijk in the Netherlands, Malmo in Norway, Bonn, Paris (twice), Amsterdam for the European Council, Denver at the weekend and finally the Apple.

But our leader's little ones should forgive him this particular gathering, he argued, because they care about the environment (which is good to know). "If there is one summit they would want me at, it is this one".

Things green have not been the only concern of Mr Blair here, however. His first call with his wife, Cheri, on Sunday night was the home of Manhattan's most celebrated Brits, Harold Evans, the former Times editor turned publishing tsar, and his wife, New Yorker editor Tina Brown. Among those there for the feel-good Blair vibrations: Lauren Bacall, Henry Kissinger, and all the famous and chic of the United States television industry.

Glittering indeed, that do was meant as a thanks to Mr Evans and others for their money-raising efforts here during the election campaign. John Prescott last night joined a meeting of the US branch of the Labour Party. And before heading for home last night, Mr Blair peddled one of his pet themes - New Labour, the "natural party of business" - at a roundtable hosted by BZW with the cream of Wall Street and US enterprise.

But there were also words in the Ungass speech for offspring other than his own. His pledge, he insisted, was to ensure the "halving of the number of children in the world living in abject poverty by 2015". The message from the Prime Minister in New York: kids everywhere, from Downing Street to Rwanda, be happy.

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