What Is the Verdict on Your Leader? Blair Ten Years on ; A Decade after Tony Blair Began Leading Labour, Party Followers Give Their Opinion

The Independent (London, England), July 21, 2004 | Go to article overview
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What Is the Verdict on Your Leader? Blair Ten Years on ; A Decade after Tony Blair Began Leading Labour, Party Followers Give Their Opinion


TONY BANKS

Former minister for sports

In terms of electoral success, he is the most successful Labour leader we've had. And 50 years down the line I think he will be seen as a radical leader because of his constitutional changes - directly elected mayors, devolution, hereditary element of the House of Lords. There have been mistakes - Iraq will have consequences - but Blair should go on.

TONY BENN

Former Labour MP and cabinet minister

When Tony Blair was elected leader in 1994 he said New Labour was a new political party. He attracted the support of a number of Conservative newspapers who thought that the basic principles of Thatcher were safe with him. New Labour has distanced itself from the trade unions and seems happy in the company of Bush, Berlusconi and Murdoch.

LAUREN BOOTH

Writer

He might be leader of the country but he's no longer leader of the Labour Party. Over the past four years, we've seen concentration on asylum, benefit fraud, curfews and locking up children. One minute single mothers are told to get out to work, the next they're told to stay at home. What happened to his war against conservatism? Now it's a war against liberalism.

ANN CRYER

MP for Keighley and Ilkley, Yorkshire

We have had many disagreements on policy, from the removal of single parent benefits to Iraq but he's a decent Prime Minister and is still well liked. However, he has been more concerned with the other side of the Atlantic than his own backbenchers over Iraq. He is now acknowledging that the security information is not up to scratch, but he really needs to say "mistakes were made".

ERIC FRIPP

Immigration barrister and former Labour party member

I have no trust at all in Tony Blair. I am concerned that he has adopted a more and more Presidential style and that checks and balances in the unwritten constitution are under attack. I left the Labour party because of their illiberal Home Office policies, in particular their attacks on the right to jury trial and on refugees.

SIR BILL MORRIS

General secretary, Transport and General Workers Union

Tony Blair has been a resounding success both as leader of the Labour Party and as Prime Minister. What he hasn't done is established a lasting legacy - he's tried hard on the Europe constitution but not succeeded. It's that he lacks. The downside to Tony Blair is he's lost a significant degree of public trust over the war in Iraq.

JO LAZZARI

Labour activist, 2004 election candidate in a Liverpool district and single mother (defeated in Liverpool's Greenbank ward)

I've just started my first graduate job (as an admin assistant) and I get pounds 1,000 a month, and child care for Jack, my 18- month-old, costs pounds 551 a month. Without the tax credits Tony Blair has brought in, I would not be able to pay my mortgage and barely feed and clothe the two of us.

SAJAWAL KHAN

Labour city councillor for 14 years in Newcastle

Despite losing control of the city after 30 years of Labour control, I have a lot of respect for Tony Blair. Policies like the New Deal are the ones that I hold dear, as it has brought pounds 55m and 4,000 new houses to the west end of Newcastle.

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