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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 April 2007, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Blair defends his 10-year legacy
Tony Blair
We will have probably every secondary school in England over the next few years, become an academy or a trust school and move beyond the old comprehensive versus selection argument
Tony Blair
In Jon Sopel's Politics Show interview, live at number 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair strongly defended his record in 10 years in office.

He said: "If you'd said to me in 1997, 10 years into a Labour Government, you will have put another 2.5 million jobs in the economy; given us the longest period of economic growth we've had; taken waiting lists down from a maximum of 18 months, down to six months and less en route to a maximum of 18; improved every set of school results in the country; and cut crime.

"If you'd said that to me, and lifted 650,000 kids out of poverty, and brought in a minimum wage, and done all of the legislation that we've done for example for equality, in respect of gays or women and so on, I think I would have been saying, okay, I'll take that."

He said that far from winding down in his last few weeks in office, he would shortly be announcing a whole range of new policy ideas.

"We will over the next few weeks be putting in place the main building blocks or the final building blocks of the reform programme, so that over the coming years, we will reach, by the end of 2008, despite all of the difficulties as we see from the health service report today, by the end of 2008, we will have an average waiting time for operations down to seven or eight weeks, a maximum - in-patient and out-patient - of 18 weeks.

"And we will have probably every secondary school in England over the next few years, become an academy or a trust school and move beyond the old comprehensive versus selection argument.

"In addition to which, anti-social behaviour, targeting the offender rather than the offence, will be the hallmarks of our criminal justice system."

Independence dangers

Tony Blair

Speaking about the forthcoming Scottish and Welsh elections, he said voters were getting wise to the dangers of independence.

"In Wales for example, the Nationalist Party there have had to say they've given up on independence and if you look at the SNP fighting the Scottish election, they want to talk.

"I mean independence is their policy and it's their one aim above all else - but if you look at what they want to talk about, they want to talk about anything other than independence, and it's important if we're to believe in, in relation to the polls, support for independence has fallen.

"Actually support for independence used to be far stronger before devolution."

Prince William and Kate...

He spoke about the role of press intrusion in leading to Prince William's split with his girlfriend Kate Middleton.

"Everybody in public life knows that you will get a certain amount of press attention and that's just the way it is.

"My experience of it actually is that what concerns people is not so much the invasion of your privacy as such, because I think most people in public life accept that you, you're bound to be a public issue and a public item in that sense.

"I think it's more that usually, whatever is discussed about you publicly, is surrounded by a whole lot of stuff that is either unfair or sometimes completely untrue, and that is I think the thing that really gets people down and you know, I think in respect of Prince William, I mean they're a young couple, we've had the announcement, fine.

"They should be left alone now, without reams of stuff being written that, I can assure you from my experience of all the stories, most of which will be complete nonsense, so I think now it's been announced, they should just be allowed to get on with their lives."

Navy inquiry

The Prime Minister dismissed David Cameron's call for the Navy to hold a Commission of Inquiry into events surrounding the detention of sailors by Iran.

"There will be an inquiry, the Navy always do conduct an inquiry if their people are taken captive in that way and I'm sure as the Navy has already said, that they will look in to it very carefully, see what lessons can be learnt.

The Barker Gallery: Blair's legacy... The Great Leveller

"Let's not forget - the essential thing is that 15 of our personnel were taken captive, and they were returned safe and unharmed, and let me emphasise to you there was no deal made, there was no trade, there was no offer from us.

"We got them back without any deal at all, and we got them back safe, and that was the priority we had throughout. And it's obviously a very difficult time for the Navy, a very traumatic time for the people concerned, but the important thing is that we did get them back."

Next week, Sunday 22 April, Jon Sopel interviews the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron - and remember, the programme starts at 14:00 BST, after the London Marathon.

Let us know what you think.

The Politics Show Sunday 15 April 2007 at 12:00 BST on BBC One.

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Jon Sopel's Blair interview


Politics from around the UK...

The Politics Show Newsletter
14 Jan 07 |  Politics Show
The Barker Gallery...
13 Apr 07 |  Politics Show
So you think you know your Tony Blair?
26 Jan 07 |  Politics Show
Blair defends his 10-year legacy
15 Apr 07 |  Politics Show

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