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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 01:52 GMT
Blair's New Year message in full
Tony Blair
Blair says Labour cannot be complacent in 2007
This is the full text of Prime Minister Tony Blair's New Year message to the country.

This is my 10th New Year message as prime minister.

My first back in 1997 set out the challenges facing us as a country; addressing low investment and poor standards in our public services; tackling crime; maintaining economic stability; reducing inequality and giving our country pride and confidence once again.

Working together we have seen real progress on all of these challenges.

On any sensible basis the NHS has made huge strides in recent years.

Waiting lists and waiting times have fallen. No one waits more than six months for an operation, when in 1997 300,000 did at any one time; and the average wait today is under seven weeks.

School results at 11, 14, 16 and 18 have all improved, sometimes dramatically.

Take one result, not given publicity. The number of 11-year-olds getting the required grade in literacy and numeracy - level 4 - has risen greatly, though not as much as we wished.

But the number of 11-year-olds getting to level 5, i.e. above the required grade, has doubled - an extraordinary indicator of improved teaching and standards.

According to the British Crime Survey, whereas in 1997 there were over 16 million crimes of all types, there are now fewer than 11 million.

Our economic performance is the envy of our competitors, with growth every single quarter of the last decade.

Families are better off, with the poorest groups having seen the biggest increases in their incomes.

Nothing better illustrates Britain's confidence as a modern, tolerant country than our successful bid for the 2012 Olympics.

None of this should blind us to the huge challenges ahead.

The NHS still has big changes to make that are difficult and controversial. Too many schoolchildren still fail. And as we know all too well, crime and anti-social behaviour top the public's concerns.

But the progress is obvious. The reason is straightforward.

New Labour set a new political course for our nation. Others now have to develop variations on our basic theme.

In 1997, New Labour vowed to prove that economic prosperity and social justice were goals which were complementary, not in conflict.

I believe in 2007, we have shown a country can be prosperous and compassionate.

Indeed, no one is now seriously suggesting we should turn back the clock.

It is a measure of how much has changed that no party which wants to be in government now questions the existence of the National Health Service funded by us all and free at the point of use or the need for a national minimum wage.

This is the new settlement in British politics. But this also poses challenges for a progressive party like ours.

We are not the party of the status quo but should constantly be seeking to improve life for the people of our country.

We must be restless, not complacent. It means setting ourselves new challenges and goals.

It needs us to recognise that just as the challenges of the last 10 years will not be those of the next decade, neither will the solutions.

That is why the government has already set in train a substantial review of every area of policy.

It will identify those areas where we need to go further and faster as well as those problems which simply did not register back in 1997.

Ten years ago, few people talked about the need to secure long-term energy supplies, the challenge and opportunities thrown up by the growth of the Chinese and Indian economies or advances in genetics.

Already we can see the shape of things to come.

We need to make our economy even more dynamic and competitive - taking advantage of the new areas of bio-science and environmental technology, as well as deepening our strong financial services and creative industrial base.

We must continue and deepen the reform in the NHS and schools, which put parent and patient at the heart of our key public services.

So, in education we will take forward plans to introduce more trust schools whilst pushing on with getting 400 academy schools up and running.

In the NHS we will ensure that care is even quicker and closer to where people live.

Our pensions plans now before Parliament will offer a low-cost scheme which will encourage saving while the link between pensions and earnings will be restored.

Our energy White Paper will make more progress on reducing carbon emissions, increasing energy efficiency, and protecting security of energy supply.

All of these issues require radical and far-reaching reform of the status quo.

So does our ability to tackle social exclusion. Many families have been lifted out of poverty; but too many are still left behind, a problem for themselves and often the wider community.

And, of course, the threat of global terrorism menaces us as it does other nations.

That is one reason why it is so important that we see through the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan where the British forces show day after day why they are the finest in the world.

We also need to work hard to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland and complete the peace process there.

I will keep my commitment to work tirelessly for the restart of the peace process in the Middle East.

Therefore this is the most difficult time for any government.

Nine years into power, mid-term in a third term. Labour has never been in this position before.

But the Labour Party should take heart. It is dominating the battle of ideas.

It will continue to do so provided it continues to be New Labour.

This isn't just about policy, though it is certainly about taking the tough decisions that prepare Britain for the future.

It is also about our instincts, our ability to keep the core coalition together: those who need our help to get on the first rungs of the ladder of opportunity; and those who are already there but aspire to do better still.

Ambition and compassion: the combination of those instincts remain the basis of New Labour's three successive victories.

They remain the basis of a fourth.





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