POLITICS: Decisions Were Made by Cabinet Insists Prime Minister
Tony Blair yesterday rejected criticism of his so-called "sofa government", insisting major decisions had been agreed by the full Cabinet.
The Prime Minister told senior MPs he did not recognise the characterisation of his leadership by people such as former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler.
Lord Butler has criticised a tendency towards decision-making by a small coterie of advisers, claiming the Cabinet took only one decision during Mr Blair's first eight months.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that some of the criticism might apply to his "first period" in office when Labour felt psychologically that it was still in Opposition.
But, in his final appearance before the Commons Liaison Committee before stepping down next week, Mr Blair insisted it was not true of his entire premiership.
"Over the past years, it just wouldn't be correct to say there isn't a proper functioning Cabinet government," he said.
"I mean, there's - I don't know - 50 different Cabinet committees. I chair only 16 of them.
"All of the major public service reforms we've done in the last few years have been not just through Cabinet committees but Cabinet itself, with detailed discussion on it.
"And I just don't recognise the description."
Mr Blair also dismissed any suggestion that previous prime ministers had not held private discussions in No 10.
"I don't believe, having done this job, I am the first prime minister that has also discussed issues with a few people who work closely with me, or with individual Cabinet ministers," he told the committee. …