Blair: We still have much to do

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair said in his New Year message that while the Government had made a lot of progress "there is much more to do."

Tony Blair said in his New Year message that while the Government had made a lot of progress "there is much more to do."

Speaking at Trimdon Colliery Community Centre in his County Durham constituency, the Prime Minister urged the country to beware of a lack of self-belief and the fear of change in the new Millennium.

Mr Blair emphasised the importance of education: "The long term strength of our economy also depends on the strength of our schools. If we are to succeed then we need to make a big leap forward in educational achievement.

"But we have a lot more still to do. In the next year we have to see through our radical reform of the teaching profession - paying good teachers more and raising the esteem and status of the profession," he said.

The Prime Minister identified health and transport as areas where there was more to be done. In-patient waiting lists were falling but the Government needed " to turn the tide on out-patients too.

People want to see the new doctors and nurses on the wards, want the new system to tackle cancer and heart disease, up and running.

"So the foundations may be laid, but there is much more to do.

"On transport I know the nature of the challenge we face. Years of under investment. The fragmentation of our railways through a botched privatisation. And of course massive rise in demand.

"But the process leading up to next July should see in place a framework which will increase radically the amounts of investment in our transport infrastructure, use it better and plan it on an integrated basis," he said.

He said that the key to all change and progress was radical reform.

"Our achievements have not been accidental. They have not come about by luck or chance. They derive directly from reforms we have made, changes which in turn derive directly from the values and ideas of New Labour."

The 20th century had been a century in which despite fextraordinary achievements - most notably in World War Two - Britain's power had declined.

"But it can be rebuilt in a new way for a different age. Some of the changes in the 80s were necessary to do this in removing obstacles to enterprise.

"The 80s called for a different type of Conservative Party; this time calls for a different type of Labour Party.