What is the verdict on your leader?

A decade after Tony Blair took over the Labour leadership, party followers give their opinion
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TONY BANKS, Former minister for sports

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 thinkhe 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.


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.

JOE HAINES, Press secretary to Harold Wilson

Tony Blair could have done better. After 10 years as leader and seven years as prime minister it seems a bit odd to be coming out with new strategies now, such as on crime, instead of five years ago. Having said that, there's no one who could replace Blair and obviously be better, and so there's no option but to keep going until such time as he decides he's had enough.

LORD HEALEY, Former Chancellor

He was doing well until Iraq. He made mistakes on foundation hospitals and university tuition fees but before that his handling of domestic policy was excellent. Neither Blair nor America has an exit strategy from Iraq, and I suspect this is why we did not do well in the by-elections. It would be a good idea to let Brown take over; the polls suggest the party would do better.

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 £55m and 4,000 new houses to the west end of Newcastle. The biggest issue of all is clearly Iraq and my belief is that the country should have backed the UN position.

JO LAZZARI, Labour activist, 2004 election defeated candidate in a Liverpool district and single mother

I've just started my first graduate job (as an admin assistant) and I get £1,000 a month, and child care for Jack, my 18-month-old, costs £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.

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.

TONY NEWMAN, Deputy leader, Croydon Council

It has been a very positive 10 years under Blair. He has been a strong leader for us. His greatest achievement is putting so much into public services. Here in Croydon, Iraq is not what people are talking about - [they] care more about crime and the environment.Although it's not time for Blair to go, we are lucky to have Gordon Brown as well. He would be a good successor.

LORD PUTTNAM, Former film producer

Right across the board, leaving Iraq out, he has been remarkably successful. His stamina is quite remarkable. In the first term, I think we lost the best part of a year from not planning sufficiently when funds were still on the horizon, but not yet available. As for Blair continuing in power, that is a decision that he should make. I would hate him to become a victim of time.

MARK SEDDON, Editor of Tribune

I've never been a supporter of Blair; he doesn't have a socialist bone in his body. He is a political figure of the centre-right. When it comes to traditional Labour aims of redistribution, equality and the like, he's shown he hasn't got a great deal of interest. Most of the progress there has come from Gordon Brown. Blair has to go. Brown likes the Labour party, whereas Blair doesn't.

GERALDINE SMITH, Labour MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale

The Labour Party and the British public have a great deal to thank Tony Blair for. He has brought in policies which have transformed Britain. But the war in Iraq was a serious error of judgement. He told MPs it was beyond doubt that there were WMDs and I feel angry that they were misled. It would be better for him to stand down with dignity and honour.

SAXON SPENCE, Labour councillor, Exeter Pinhoe Whipton

The last few years have been better than any Tory government. We've seen improvements in unemployment figures; children have been lifted out of poverty. But I was a strong opponent of the Iraq war. My view is that Brown should replace Blair, perhaps before the next election. Many of the Labour achievements came from Brown's office.