April 30, 2007


Blair's regrets over three wasted years: Reforms were too slow, says Falconer (Nicholas Watt and Patrick Wintour, April 30, 2007, The Guardian)

Tony Blair will mark his decade in office this week with "big regrets" at his inability to move more quickly to reform Britain's public services, one of his closest cabinet allies has claimed.

As the prime minister puts the finishing touches to his resignation statement, in which he will declare that Labour has transformed schools and hospitals, Lord Falconer, the lord chancellor, told the Guardian that up to three years were lost after the 1997 election victory. "One of Tony's big regrets, I think, would be that we didn't realise quick enough that if you genuinely wanted to change the way the public service delivered for the public you needed to embark upon a process of cultural change," he said in an interview to mark Mr Blair's 10 years in Downing Street.

"I think it is 99-2000 that he begins to realise that something more profound is required."

Lord Falconer, who has played a key role as Mr Blair's "fixer", said the initial period after Labour's landslide general election victory became an immense struggle, like "pushing water up hills".

The assessment of the pace of reform in key areas of domestic policy, such as health, education and welfare, comes as Mr Blair moves to underline the significance of his legacy.

On the other hand, Bill Clinton wasted the opportunity of his later years, when he could have worked with the GOP to radically reform the welfare state along Pinochetist lines.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2007 10:13 AM
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