His promise to the party faithful that he would ‘always’ be with them earned Tony Blair a seven-minute standing ovation.
But the Labour conference may have been slightly less overawed if they had realised that the Prime Minister had based the finale to his farewell speech on the words of a fugitive double murderer.
Mr Blair has confided to friends that he drew inspiration for his big sign-off from a favourite passage of John Steinbeck’s 1939 classic The Grapes of Wrath.
The Premier ended his last conference speech by telling delegates: ‘Whatever you do, I’m always with you. Head and heart. Next year I won’t be making this speech. But in the years to come, wherever I am, whatever I do, I’m with you. Wishing you well, wanting you to win.’