Blair: The Verdict; AS HE BECOMES THE LONGEST-SERVING LABOUR PRIME MINISTER IN HISTORY, WE PRESENT

The Mirror (London, England), August 2, 2003 | Go to article overview

Blair: The Verdict; AS HE BECOMES THE LONGEST-SERVING LABOUR PRIME MINISTER IN HISTORY, WE PRESENT


Byline: JAMES HARDY Political Editor

TONY Blair today becomes the longest serving Labour Prime Minister.

He will overtake the record of six years and three months for a single stint at No10 set by Clement Attlee between 1945 and 1951.

The Attlee Government set up the National Health Service, implemented the 1944 Education Act, nationalised the rail and coal industries and tied America to Europe through the Nato alliance.

It was a time of radicalism and hope for millions. But the Blair legacy is far less certain.

Here the Mirror compares the achievements of both men.

CLEMENT ATTLEE

FULL NAME: Clement Richard Attlee.

BORN: 3 Jan 1883, Putney, London.

DIED: 8 Oct 1967.

EDUCATION: University Collg Oxford.

FAMILY: Married Violet Millar. One son and three daughters.

PREVIOUS CAREER: Lawyer.

HOBBIES: Amateur poet.

PARLIAMENTARY CAREER: Elected MP 1922. PPS to Ramsay MacDonald. 1931: Refused to join National Government. 1935: Became Labour leader.

Age when appointed PM: 63 years, 205 days.

TONY BLAIR

FULL NAME: Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

BORN: 6 May 1953, Edinburgh.

EDUCATION: Durham Choristers' School; Fettes, Edinburgh; St John's, Oxford.

FAMILY: Married Cherie Booth QC. Three sons and one daughter.

PREVIOUS CAREER: Lawyer, called to Bar 1976.

HOBBIES: Amateur musician.

PARLIAMENTARY CAREER: Elected MP for Sedgfield 9 June, 1983. 1988-1994: Shadow Cabinet.

1994: Labour leader. Age when appointed PM: 43 years, 361 days.

THE ECONOMY

BLAIR: Chancellor Gordon Brown swept away the old reputation for economic bungling. Bank of England independence brought low inflation, mortgages and unemployment. National debt paid off at record levels.

Taxes have risen but crumbling public services will benefit. Failure to join the euro has hit manufacturing and stock market turmoil has crippled pensions.

Verdict: 9/10

ATTLEE: Nationalised mines, gas and railways. Inflation soared. Raised taxes, tightened rationing.

Verdict: 4/10

POVERTY

BLAIR: Target of ending child poverty in 20 years appears achievable. Minimum wage a real breakthrough. Created tens of thousands of jobs, increased family incomes and eased burden on single mums. OAP income rises. But the gap between rich and poor grows.

Verdict: 8/10

ATTLEE: Provided "cradle to grave" welfare with raft of benefits. Set up rent tribunals to protect tenants.

Verdict: 9/10

CRIME

BLAIR: Crime down since 1997 and police recruitment at record high. But violent crime is rising and drug crime in some inner-city areas nearly out of control. Low-level crime and anti-social behaviour still bring misery.

Verdict: 6/10

ATTLEE: Black market thrived under rationing. Abolished

hard labour, extended fines. …

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