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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Five years of Blair: What were the key events for you?
Tony Blair and New Labour marked five years in office on 2 May. During this time the public has observed some of his best and worst moments as Prime Minister.

Labour swept to power in a landslide victory in 1997 promising a "new dawn".

The eve of the new Millennium and the forty-something Blairs' joy at the birth of their fourth child, Leo, in May 2000 were among the high points for the Prime Minister during his five year tenure.

But despite the presence of New Labour's spin machine, the PM has suffered some embarrassing moments.

Ecclestone, Mandelson, the Millennium Dome, the icy cold slow clap at the Women's Institute, a drunken Euan Blair in Leicester Square and that Prescott punch have all made his job that bit harder.

How do you think he has coped? What event stands out most for you from Blair's five years in office? Were you there? If not, do you wish you had been?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction

Politics went into a very dull patch at the end of Major's reign and along came Blair to rescue everything. Well that's what we thought. I supported the Labour party in 1997 but feel totally let down. The government is a fraud and Blair's a conman. He's like a robber who sweet talks you at the door while his yes men rob you from the back entrance. The Labour party has stabbed all the people who elected them in the back; at least the Conservatives stabbed us in the front. Why don't we do what John Prescott said in 1997? Keep him and the party to his word that transport will be better in five years. Well, the deadline has passed and so has the people's trust in Blair. The Conservatives should be given the chance to show the people they care and want a greater country for all.
Karl Mitford, UK

The fuel protest was the turning point for me - that was when it became clear that, far from being a breath of fresh air, he was just a slight rearrangement of the stale old fumes we'd had before.
Pete Hazell, UK


Under the Conservatives I was never without work

Alex, United Kingdom
33 and unemployed, yet according to Blair we have the lowest unemployment for years! Under the Conservatives I was never without work. I may not have always agreed with what they done but you always knew that they had the best interests of the country at heart. I just don't trust Blair and this New Labour, the spin, the PR and the lack of backbone and leadership. Maggie was strong in Europe and dominated world politics, under Blair we've become an insignificant little island off Europe ran by probably the world's largest and most expensive public relations company, 'New Labour, Blair & Associates (unlimited)'
Alex, United Kingdom

The fact about Blair's invention called New Labour is that, back in 1997 the majority of British people voted for the Labour party, not New Labour. New Labour came along, after the Labour part was voted in. The voters have been double crossed.
Zee, UK

It's fine to say that Labour have achieved 79% of their '97 election promises, but how many of these would have happened anyway - youth unemployment, the economy etc? And how many have been fiddled with (hospital waiting lists)? Am I right in believing that this BBC 'research' is meant to obscure the fact that this government has failed to deliver?
Mark, UK

On the whole, not too bad. However, I feel that help is needed for the single people where employment is concerned, and help for students is also necessary. Bring back grants!
Ian Baker, England


All we hear is spin - how good it looks and no substance

MWG, UK
I feel Tony Blair and New Labour have really let us down. They had a massive mandate to make changes, big changes - those as sweeping as were done by Margaret Thatcher in the 80s. All we hear is spin - how good it looks and no substance. Two main pledges were crime and the NHS. Crime is rising rapidly, especially in cities. The NHS, well, what can I say? It is an ancient monolith. It needs radical change to meet the needs of the nation in the 21st century.
MWG, UK

The man is a menace. He and his party are a disgrace. He thinks nothing of democracy. He was elected on a minority of the votes, by a minority of the electorate, yet seems to think that this is a mandate to ignore clear logic in debates. If he is being measured on the election promises, then the magnitude of the failures easily outweighs the minor achievements.
David, England

To be fair he is better than any Tory PM (not hard I know). At least he does seem to be trying his best to get the country on its feet again. He needs to be more hard-line and start to clamp down on youth yobs, drug users/suppliers and very heavily on immigration.
Andy, Scotland

Most of you lot are so pessimistic. In the UK we have the lowest unemployment rate in the G7, less than half of what it is in Germany, France and Italy. More people go to university, more people use the train network, overall crime is down, there has been no major disaster (e.g. winter of discontent, Suez crisis, getting kicked out of the ERM, or negative equity). Britain's economy is still growing, we have a tolerant society. His record on public services isn't too good, but jeez, we've had 18 years of underinvestment - you cant turnaround the NHS with a workforce of 300,000 in five years.
Dominic, England


We have finally ended a generation of cold, divisive, corrupt, self-interested Tory destruction of this country

James, UK
People really do have short memories. We have finally ended a generation of cold, divisive, corrupt, self-interested Tory destruction of this country. Labour may have faults, made mistakes, and still has much to do, but people should really remember what they have achieved, and what this country was like five years ago.
James, UK

I have not been impressed by the first five years of Tony Blair. Labour are supposed to help the poorest in society and they have certainly failed to do that. The thing that stands out for me is coming over to England only to experience the dreadful state of our nation's trains, Tony Blair should be ashamed of himself.
Victoria Belfield, Isle Of Man

I was unfortunate enough to have been a teenager in the mid-to-late 80s under the Thatcher government. The climate of insecurity - in relation to jobs and the position of minorities (to name but a few) - and the 'divide and rule' policies that that government ruthlessly pursued, left many people feeling helpless and without hope. While I do not contend that this Labour government is perfect - nor that any government could be - it is infinitely better than the previous Conservative administrations of the 80s.
Stephen Gogerley, England

Blair has done ok. His government should call a referendum on proportional representation thought. The problem in general with politics today is that no one cares anymore, because they feel they are voting for the worst of all evils, and don't feel and more importantly are not empowered to bring about change in the community and country.
Matt, UK

It will all end in tears. Every government does. That is a political fact. Blair may appear to be impregnable now, but cast our minds back 15 years and people felt the same with Mrs T! Things never last forever but this government seemed to be arrogantly assured that they can never lose. The mounting levels of public discontent show that such arrogance is increasingly misplaced.
Hywel Thomas, United Kingdom


I would like to thank Tony Blair and the Labour government for turning round our public services

Ed Fletcher, UK
I would like to thank Tony Blair and the Labour government for turning round our public services. Let us not forget that decades of decline following the Tory years had left our public services fit only for closure. To turn that around, convince the people to pay more tax and steer a clear way through all the obstacles is a major political achievement.
Ed Fletcher, UK

I've been a supporter of the left all my life, until now. I hate this government and Blair in particular. He inherited a very benign economic situation and has done nothing else. Where is the freedom of information act, the reform of the House Of Lords to a democratic institution? The waste of public money has meant that all of us have to pay vast sums of money to the government just to shore up there incompetence, frankly if the Tories weren't even worse I'd vote for them.
Richard Hammond, UK

The one thing that affects us all: tax. Blair said that Labour wouldn't put up taxes - well they have both direct and indirect on rich or poor. For this blatant lie they should be cast out for another 20 years. Meet New Labour - absolutely no difference to old Labour!
Bill, England

It has to be said that there never was a harder job than being a "socialist" prime minister after 18 years of Thatcherism. A lot of hardliners in the Labour party have been disappointed with Blair, but remember that he has had to convince and win over a nation obsessed with low taxation and jingoism to New Labour's vision.
Tom Stebbing, Norway/UK

"No judgements were made on the quality of what the government has delivered - or the value of individual pledges". Oh I see! What a wonderful study, clearly a bit like New Labours pledges, don't you think?
A Williams, UK


As a taxpayer owning a small business, I can no longer afford the 52%+ tax that I have to pay on income to my company

Mark, UK
Remembering previous 'tax and spend' Labour governments, it was with a little trepidation that I helped vote Tony in five years ago. I believed all the spin concerning 'Income tax' not being raised. What they didn't say was that they would tax everything else under the sun. As a taxpayer owning a small business, I can no longer afford the 52%+ tax that I have to pay on income to my company. I am shutting up shop and going to work for someone else. In the USA.
Mark, UK

I moved to New York over 20 years ago and I am pleased to see Tony Blair and New Labour become the mainstream party. But it needed Mr Blair as a catalyst to bring the "new" party to embrace the centre. I believe Britain is finally changing towards a new constitution that will rework/replace old institutions (House of Lords, the monarchy) to fit into a modern framework of utilizing the private sector but maintaining core social values (education, health system, public transport, full employment) as the higher goal. Cool Britannia continue!
Ivor Parker, USA

I will never forget Blair's dizzy smile when he learned that he would now be pulling the levers. Since the Diana show went "pear-shaped" he has become the only show in town. To refer to his government as Labour or new labour is an obvious oxymoron. The man is more right wing than Major ever was. He has changed English politics from a debate on issues and Parliamentary accountability into an American-style presidency, where Parliament is ignored and policy is controlled by cronies and wonks.
Galahad Wang, UK

Not only was Tony Blair the greatest prime minister of the 20th century, he will probably be the greatest of the 21st. We will never have a man of his calibre and ability in charge again. Stop whinging you losers and rejoice
Andrew Pawley, UK

In the article "What a difference five years make" there is talk about buying PCs and mobile phones. The increase in people with mobile phones and the cost of PCs is down to technology advancement and advertising and not government policy.
Nick, Britain


Public services have been crumbling for decades, government are useless at providing these services

Richard Ford, Great Britain
Public services have been crumbling for decades, government are useless at providing these services. Time to greatly reduce government intervention and let the private sector allocate the resources accordingly!
Richard Ford, Great Britain

Why no mention of the outrageous politicisation of the BBC? The BBC has been reduced to nothing more than a mouth organ for the Labour party. It will pay the price for compromising its neutrality when a Conservative government is re-elected. The BBC is living on borrowed time!
Gordon Hickley, UK

Blair and his cronies are arrogant beyond belief. It is very much a case of "what we say goes" obviously thanks to the large commons majority. Loads of spin but little substance sums up life under Labour so far with our prime minister more concerned about his image in the eyes of our European and world neighbours than anything that may be happening in the country he is supposedly governing.
Steve Harris, England

We have had five years of Tony Blair. Do you wonder why the guy is going grey? Five years of trying to rebuild a country "that woman" and her cronies destroyed. In his five years Blair has met 3/4 of the pledges he made , I'd say that was pretty good going - wouldn't you?
Tommy low, England


Tony Blair is well respected on the world stage

Laura, UK
I think Tony Blair has been inspirational. I am only 18 but the way in which Blair sees the 'bigger picture' in terms of world politics is refreshing. It seems he genuinely has an ideology of how the world should be. People on this site are far too quick to criticise without offering viable solutions. Tony Blair is well respected on the world stage and has given Britain a new role in world politics, much to the dismay of Britons who cling to a long forgotten imperial dream.
Laura, UK

I was 17 when Labour came to power in 1997 and remember staying up with my brother to watch the results. For the first time in my life I felt I lived in a true democracy because I experienced change. However, five years down the line and I think Major was a better prime minister. Blair is Machiavellian in everything he does. He will U-turn at every opportunity to ensure he looks good.
Paul Martin, England


Blair and his cronies displayed an astounding level of ignorance and contempt towards rural communities

Chris Briggs, UK
For me the most memorable moment of "Blair's Britain" has to have been the lacklustre response to the foot-and-mouth crisis. The whole thing was ineptly handled by a government which even now continues to hide its incompetence behind platitudes and spin. Blair and his cronies displayed an astounding level of ignorance and contempt towards rural communities throughout the whole country. Small wonder we will never see a public enquiry into their handling of the crisis...they have far too much to hide.
Chris Briggs, UK

The best PM since Clem Atlee. Huge social progress has been made over the past five years and in spite of his mistakes, he has delivered in making this a better and more optimistic place to live.
Ross Howarth, Winchester

Has it been five years? It feels like a lifetime. Things have gone awfully wrong with this government. There were the fuel protests, rising house prices, scandals and muck-ups, destruction of the rail network, craziness in the transport department, burying of important news during sensitive moments; just to name a few.
Everett Kirkwell Jones, Great Britain


As suspected the worst prime minister in my lifetime, and possibly ever

Mike Young, England
As suspected, the worst prime minister in my lifetime, and possibly ever. I sometimes wonder if his surname is misspelt, surely it should be Bliar.
Mike Young, England

Tony Blair smiles like a disgraced TV evangelist. He pauses and gestures at moments that are designed to make him appear sincere, but actually show his speeches to be polished, practiced prattling. Every single time that there has been pressure on this government to act (petrol, education, law and order, health, taxation, spending, transportation, Europe, monetary policy, SteelGate, Passport-Gate, individual corruption, corporate corruption) he has shown that not only is he leading a government with no ideas or direction, but that he himself is unwilling to stick his head or his reputation on the line by saying "Well actually, we did get that wrong, it was our fault, and this is what we're doing to fix it." No, when the going gets tough, Tony gets going... on another plane out of the country. Well, here's hoping that come the next election, Tony, you do get going.... out of office.
Paul Shrimpton, UK


New Labour, Old Labour, doesn't make any difference

Roger Sayer, USA
New Labour, Old Labour, doesn't make any difference. They are, and always will be, a bunch of intellectuals who aspire to find an economic theory that will guide us all, via mounds of Bills, Acts and reforms, to the uplands of happiness and prosperity. Their equations, however, never account for the human factor. Hence disruption in health, schools, railways, the post office, police, the tube and everything they try to manipulate with their master plan. I remember a truism issued by Harold McMillan, "How could anyone plan for The Beatles reviving the clothing industry?" A government's heart must beat with the people which it can't do if its principals are aloof academics.
Roger Sayer, USA

Although I never had a great deal of praise for the Conservatives, I have to say that New Labour and Mr Blair have an attitude that really gets up my nose. Every promise of something good hides a sneaky bad point. The one thing that stands out most is that Mr Blair keeps wanting to bail out private firms with public money! He wants the nation to gamble. Railtrack go into administration (which I think was right), but he wants to pay off shareholders with my money? Sorry people, but taking shares is a gamble and a risk, some win, some lose. Then there is the budget issue. How can anyone justify to me getting rid of tax on "luxuries" such as betting and bingo - then put my National Insurance Tax up?
Martin, England

The one incident that sticks in my mind is the fuel protests of 2000. I think the government's stance was admirable and it was during this time that Mr Blair really went up in my estimations. This country needs a strong leader that will not bow down to intimidation of that nature.
Dave, UK


I would hate to have him as a neighbour

Brendan, UK/Australia
He has made very good progress in Northern Ireland. This has been achieved against the odds and the attempts by many to undo the process begun under John Major. Democracy in NI will come and with it eventual independence from England, perhaps UK and perhaps Eire. Apart from that he is pretty smarmy and intolerant - I would hate to have him as a neighbour. Mind you, there are few leading politicians that I would like as a neighbour.
Brendan, UK/Australia

Well done Mr Blair! Some people are never satisfied - it seems to be a past time to moan about the weather or the NHS and have forgotten what it was like in the early 90s! Keep going Tony.
Jay, UK

I am 16 so have really no recollection of the previous government, but from what I have seen of this government, it is my thought that this government is awful and has no idea of what real people want, or even if they do they do not have the courage to stand up and say what they actually believe. They just sit on the fence making long speeches so that everyone listening gets so bored that they just end up agreeing
Steven Mulvenna, England


Blair has been a disappointment

Daniel, UK
I haven't really noticed the difference between New Labour and the Tories, to be honest. Well, actually, New Labour costs more. I have been able to vote in the last two elections, but both times I found that I could not in good conscience give my support to any of the people standing. Blair has been a disappointment, although his charisma, arrogance and seemingly dominative nature seem to lend themselves quite well to his upcoming new role as "emperor".
Daniel, UK

When he decided to announce the general election during a school visit publicity stunt it confirmed to me that he was more interested in publicity than the elected parliament.
Roger, UK

I always think back to that song, Things Can Only Get Better that New Labour adopted during their 1997 election campaign. Five years on it would appear that Three Wheels On My Wagon would have been more appropriate.
Lou, UK

Several things spring to mind:
1/ Hoodwinking the average member of the public through complicated stealth taxes.
2/ The losing battle against crime.
3/ The loss of the right to say what you think in favour of excessive top political correctness.
4/ The loss of respect abroad, with the UK now viewed as the 51st State of the US.
5/ Committing our forces to every peace mission etc possible, without being willing to properly resource them.
Wake up Tony. Britain is not only about the NHS and schools, even though they may be an easy policy ticket for an election win. You inherited a healthy economy, so don't take all the credit.
Mark Q, UK

The world would like to express its gratitude to Tony Blair for his full-fledged support to the US in its fight against terrorism, a problem that has engulfed many parts of our globe today. We cannot forget his diplomatic missions to garner support from many of the Asian nations who were vehemently opposed to any military action against the Taleban regime that sheltered the dreaded al-Qaeda networks on Afghanistan's soil. The world will ever remember Blair for his wisdom and timely decisions that has driven Britain to become a mighty force against such challenges. I have no business to comment on the domestic issues, which may have landed him in trouble at times, but know for sure that he has been one of the most successful prime ministers of Britain.
Mahesh Chandra Somani, Finland

Tony Blair and New Labour may not be perfect and spotless, they may not have achieved all they set out to do and they may not even be capable of the reforms they are proposing, but at the end of the day I'd sooner have them in power than the self serving Tories. Any day.
Richard Collins, England


Blair has proved himself to be the international statesman of the modern age

Jamie, UK
Blair has proved himself to be the international statesman of the modern age. He has restrained the United States' lust for war and proved that social responsibility, wealth redistribution and a successful, growing economy are not mutually exclusive. The most outstanding memory from the last five years? Blair shuttling around Europe and the Middle East to prevent war whilst Bush cowered in his bunker.
Jamie, UK

He's a fantastic prime minister. Much better than the short-sighted Conservative governments Britain used to have. Long may he rule!
Volker, England (ex Germany)

Devolution for Scotland and Wales, progress in NI, more money re-distributed to less well off people, handing over interest rate control to the Bank of England, managing the economy well, closing the loophole on people such as IT contractors who didn't pay their way, putting money into public services whilst trying to ensure value for money are my achievement pluses for the government.
Paul N, UK


They seem to consistently let the general public down with unrealistic targets

Joanna Meyer, UK
I believe Blair and his government have been well intentioned in their public service policies. However they seem to consistently let the general public down with unrealistic targets and greater pressure on those that work in the public sector. Friends of mine who work in the NHS and the teaching professions have told me first hand how the government's target-driven attitude has demoralised their workforce and created greater paperwork for them. As for transport, well I think the Railtrack fiasco and general chaos of commuting just speaks for itself. The success of this government's term depends on how convincingly these public service problems are rectified.
Joanna Meyer, UK

I think Mr Blair has created a new, dynamic Britain for the new Millennium, for the many and not for the few.
James, UK

The government's sheer arrogance during the petrol dispute and the highly questionable bail-out of Railtrack top my list. Despite all their many problems they are still far more efficient than any Tory government I have known.
Gordon Sinclair, England

The incident that stands out, or rather the first one that stood out, was when Mr Blair after less than a week in power, without consulting Parliament decided to reduce Prime Minster's question time to 30 minutes a week rather than two 15 minutes slots. This spoke volumes about the person he was, and a taster of things to come! Now after five years in office, he follows the same arrogant and undemocratic methodology. Although one has to give him credit, he started as meant to go on!
Ali Sarfaraz, UK


It was created to give the nation a boost

Tracey Haines, England
Tony Blair's five years has been a success on the whole. What I object to is people saying the Millennium Dome was embarrassing for the Prime Minister. It was needed because it was created to give the nation a boost and to lift them above the sometimes humdrum of every day life because it was unique and it covered all areas of life inspiring people to think what progress could be made in any particular sphere. Peter Mandelson was right when he said it would give people who often led dull lives to be given the chance to free themselves from this even if it was only one day.
Tracey Haines, England

The event that stands out most for me was when the home secretary was caught driving at 100 mph on the motorway and was allowed to keep his job. That speaks volumes about how much he really cares about law and order.
Adam, UK

I can honestly say that every single moment of the Labour government's five years in office has been better than any from the previous 18 years under the Tories.
Andrew, UK


What on earth have you been doing with all my money Tony?

Iain, UK
Since getting into power Tony hasn't banned fox hunting, nor has he banned tobacco advertising, nor has he sorted out the education system, nor has he sorted out the national health service, nor has he sorted out crime. The dome was a disaster, the railways and air-traffic control are a disaster and the tube PPP is set to be a disaster. Yet my taxes, both stealthy and overt, have gone up. What on earth have you been doing with all my money Tony?
Iain, UK

He is much more corrupt than I thought he would be. He is cosying up to big business in the same way an American Republican politician would. I wish we could have honest, common sense politicians - but I suppose that's a contradiction in terms.
David Eccleston, UK

I don't agree with everything that Blair's government has done. They have an extremely irritating penchant for Students Union type political correctness, and a rather tiresome habit of promoting resentment for success on the basis that it constitutes "elitism". Having said that, as far as Blair's government's management of the economy is concerned, I can only say one thing: Excellent.

What they should now concentrate on is doing what they genuinely believe is best for the future of this country, rather than constantly trying to placate Joe Public. Constantly trying to do what Joe Public wants, even though they know it is not in the long-term best interest will be this government's downfall.
Simon Moore, UK

Blair has done reasonably well for a Labour prime minister, but his policies didn't create the booming economy. He's good, but he's no Margaret Thatcher.
jeff, USA


A triumph of fudge and middle way nothingness

Jon Cooper, UK
Blair has lived up to my expectations - namely we have seen more power transferred to Europe, a raft of rules and regulations to stifle small business, higher tax, worse infrastructure, more strikes, and no improvement in the NHS despite billions of our pounds being poured in. We have also seen calamitous organisation of big national projects like the Dome, and there is still no national stadium. It has been a triumph of fudge and middle way going-nowhere nothingness. I was baffled that he won so easily in 1997. I am even more baffled now that people still rate him and his inept ministers. New Labour have been rubbish.
Jon Cooper, UK

Shouldn't it be a case of "How have five years of Labour been?" Or are we really in the undemocratic dictatorial lair of Blair, as it appears?
Dave, England

Tony Blair, the new man of the world. A man who wants to push aside tradition, as tradition appears to have no place in the future. He is a man who destroys what has been built, preferring instead to build his own "throne" of democracy without the hindrance of opposition. He wants to dismantle the House of Lords and do away with British rights (the Greece saga is a classic example). Guess what I will vote next time - again.
Paul Stanier, UK

Selling out Gibraltar and Northern Ireland will be his biggest mistakes.
Matthew Blake, Australia

I think it's fascinating that the only people from the other side of the Atlantic that ever criticise Britain and the government are British ex-pats. As for Blair's past five years he hasn't done particularly well, but then has anybody got a viable alternative?
Peter, UK


In the last year, he has won another election which has gone to his head and he has lost sight of why he is there

Roger, UK
During his first three or four years, he seemed to be doing something or at least trying to. In the last year, he has won another election which has gone to his head and he has lost sight of why he is there. Things are getting worse and he knows he has to deliver and not just promise and he doesn't seem to know how to, hence the constant spin instead of his actions speaking for themselves. He started well, did some good things at the beginning but since then he has lost his way. He is still trying and for that I give him credit, but he is no longer delivering. What this country needs is for the politicians to start working together so that we can develop a blueprint for our future, say the next 20 years.
Roger, UK

It's been a terrible catalogue of lies, sleaze, non-delivery, arrogance and spin doctoring. At last there are signs that everyone else is coming out from the mist and the spell of that grin so maybe this nightmare will end at the next election. If only there was a credible alternative as I feel the country would go wild if there was a box for none of the above next time round!
Phillip Holley, UK

Taxes going up, up, up and public services going down, down, down. Just like the last Labour government in the 1970s. A leopard never changes its spots!
Guy Hammond, England


Five years on and things are no better

Shaun, Teignmouth UK
Five years on and things are no better. We still have a crumbling NHS, no meaningful transport infrastructure, street crime spiralling out of control, an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor and a glut of sleazy politicians. The only difference is that now we pay considerably more in overall taxation for this farcical situation. Bring back the Tories. They may have been hopeless but at least they were a bit cheaper!
Shaun, Teignmouth UK

What can I say? A complete destruction of personal privacy. The evil of the RIP bill. Taxes on IT contractors. The massive swing to the right, erosion of employee rights, tax breaks to the bi-multinationals while at the same time putting up personal taxes. The refusal to sort out house prices so that now first time buyers are priced out of the market completely. The bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan. Do I need to continue?
Vish, UK

Low pay, higher taxes, huge immigration problems, bad schools, worse hospitals. I think Blair has done pretty bad so far. Get rid of him and get in a government that knows what the people want and runs this country our way.
Richard Hawley, UK

I imagine it's like being trapped in a car with a mad, bad, drunk driver.
David Norris, Scotland

How do I feel? Profound disappointment, I guess. Like many, I voted for Blair for the first time to get the Tories out and to see a real difference in the standard of government. Although it's clearly costing much more, I see little sign of improvement in any area of public services in areas that would affect me, regardless of the statistics. I really don't know who to vote for next time.
Guy Liddell, UK


As a prime minister he's no worse than any other and considerably better than many

Guy Chapman, UK
As a prime minister he's no worse than any other and considerably better than many. At least New Labour seem to believe at a fundamental level that the NHS has a right to exist. But the highlight of Blair's years in power is still, for me, that wonderful night in May 1997 - banishing the Tory party to outer darkness. Remember Tatton? Remember Portillo? Ah, happy memories......
Guy Chapman, UK

Tuition fees for students. U-turn on the promises the Labour party made regarding education, and other parts of their manifesto. Don't start me on the NHS! That's why I vote Conservative.
Steven Hill, USA / UK


As a pensioner, I have seen an increase in my standard of living

Robert Rogers, UK
In my view Tony Blair has governed well in respect of home affairs. As a pensioner, I have seen an increase in my standard of living and I shall not be disadvantaged by next year's increase in NI contribution. Also I have received excellent health treatment after a major surgery recently. However, I am deeply disappointed by the government's foreign policies. The attitude to the USA's aggressive stance to any country which does not submit to the American interests appals me. On the contrary the appeasement of Israel and the failure to implement UN resolutions on the Palestinian question shows how hypocritical the governments of USA and our own can be.
Robert Rogers, UK

Blair has done very well for the past five years, with the exception of a few minor slip-ups. For example, the NHS is a farce, education is a shambles, the law and order system is a sick joke and fewer people than ever even bother to cast their vote. Our armed forces are overstretched yet still committed to more and more open-ended overseas missions, and government corruption is worse than at the height of the Tories. Apart from that, he's done a great job.
John B, UK

Last year my father (a humanist and I would say a long-standing socialist) died during election week, hence voting was not on my list of priorities as well as being away from my Edinburgh home. I do remember my father being very disappointed with New Labour. For the first time in his life he said that he would not vote for Labour as they had moved too far from any socialist (and therefore human) values. How sad this is in my opinion. As an artist I feel no benefit from this government but with the Tories I felt even more oppressed as one who believes in self-expression, equality and a distribution of wealth. People are still greedy and Labour does nothing much to promote a more fair and equal society.
Heather, Scotland


People should not underestimate the scale of the rebuilding job that the Blair Labour governments have started

Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK
People should not underestimate the scale of the rebuilding job that the Blair Labour governments have started - nor should they allow Tories to forget the state that they left our country's essential services in. The prime minister needs to remain vigilant though... too often, he has appeared indecisive and too prone to submit to the vested interest groups and sycophants who often seem to surround him at opportune moments (i.e. when they think it will serve THEIR best interests). If Tony Blair is to prosper into a third term, he needs to remove the more unsavoury elements who currently blight (through their personal 'sleaze', if you like) Labour's attempts to get its message across. If he can't do this, he should stand aside and I will enthusiastically support Gordon Brown to replace him.
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK

As with every budget, election and new era, the plans these parties make are 3-5 or 10 years ahead. Just like 10 years funding for the NHS. Blair and his lot are now facing the plans (failures) the Tories left when they were still in power. Only now can things look better. Look at the Dome. Labour didn't plan it, Major did. Fair enough, Labour didn't make it what the public wanted, but half the money was spent on it before Labour got in.
Kevin, UK

Blair has been a good leader on the world stage. He has helped keep the US from diving in to heavily in to a war with an elusive enemy. He has tried to steer Europe in a way that is better for Britain, in the long run. He ensured Serbia was dealt with by a firm hand when it stepped out of place in Kosovo. On the home front his party are making reasonable progress. The thing with the Tories was that you didn't have a very good health service, but you didn't pay for it either. His only problem is that he does not believe he can do anything wrong, and he will not listen to anyone who has a differing view no matter if they are right.
Steve, UK

More jobs, low interest and inflation rates. Prices in shops are stable or falling, investment rises, and a PM who is respected throughout out the world. Those harping on about Tony's failings are just sour grape Tories who cannot cope with the fact that a Labour government has performed better than any Conservative administration.
Anonymous


Blair's behaviour towards the American administration smacks of hero-worship

William, UK
My abiding memory of Tony Blair's years in power has to be an occasion late last year when, shortly after the events of the 11 September, George Bush appeared in his Action Man leather jacket and open-necked shirt to show how tough he was to the American people. The very next day Mr Blair faced the cameras not only mouthing Bush's platitudes, but also apparently dressed up as him. Tony Blair's behaviour towards the American administration smacks more of hero-worship than alliance. Surely some Americans must find his sycophancy every bit as nauseating?
William, UK

Blair is good for the world. Because the US respects Britain so much, Blair is a powerful voice of reason for this unilateral US administration.
Shawn, Washington, DC, US

Tony Blair has led Britain very well in foreign policy. Under Blair the UK has taken commendable action in the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. He is a bright man and speaks very well. I think the amount of spin coming out of the government has hurt Blair, and he needs to get a hold on this. The same sleaze that was present under the Conservatives is still there, but that shouldn't be a surprise! We are dealing with politicians after all.
Jonathan Michaud, UK


Privatising the NHS and the education system is not why people voted Labour

Chazza, Scotland
The main feature of his term in office is a massive swing to the right. Privatising the NHS and the education system is not why people voted Labour. We now have a choice between his right-wing policies and the even more loony policies of Ian Duncan Smith. Unless the Lib Dems or the nationalists can make a breakthrough, Britain will effectively become a one-party state.
Chazza, Scotland

I have a lot of respect for Mr Blair, and I think he's an excellent statesman, especially on the international stage. I'm glad he's doing what's right. Having said that, I think the country is worse off after the last five years. Apart from the usual crime and health issues, I feel that the situation for students is diabolical. My younger brother is at university and can expect to finish with a debt of about 18,000. He's gone to university between the end of grants and whatever is brought back in to replace loans. I want to know if students from the last four years will be reimbursed through whichever scheme is brought in next. Frankly, whichever party comes up with a "yes" will get my vote. Tony Blair has asked everyone to vote for the mainstream parties. I ask him to lead a party worthy of being voted for.
Jon Kirk, England

New Labour, Old Labour, doesn't make any difference. They are, and always will be, a bunch of intellectuals who aspire to find an economic theory that will guide us all, via mounds of Bills, Acts and reforms, to the uplands of happiness and prosperity. Their equations, however, never account for the human factor. Hence disruption in health, schools, railways, the post office, police, the tube and everything they try to manipulate with their master plan. I remember a truism issued by Harold McMillan, "How could anyone plan for The Beatles reviving the clothing industry?" A government's heart must beat with the people which it can't do if its principals are aloof acedemics.
Roger Sayer, US


Blair has done very well over the past five years

Matt, Britain
Blair has done very well over the past five years. Of course there have been hiccups - such is the nature of government. The success in Kosovo, a million children taken out of poverty, first ever minimum wage, massive investment into the NHS...the list goes on. Well done, Mr Blair.
Matt, Britain

How has it been? Awful. That's the word I would use to describe Mr Blair's five years in power. He has handed over more and more of our country's rights to Europe and has done absolutely nothing about crime and asylum seekers. He's bought in stupid laws like the human rights law which means that our courts no longer have the powers they should have to lock offenders away. If he stays in power much longer I fear for the future of this once proud nation, I really do.
Louise Laffette, UK

Tony Blair is a charismatic leader with genuine concern for the world's poor, the environment, sustainable development and conflict resolution. He's shown courage of conviction on principles when he committed British forces abroad. I wish him well in his resolve to improve the NHS, fight crime and building the nation's infrastructure.
Vijay K Vijayaratnam, United Kingdom


Any successes have been overcast by the incessant and off-putting spin

Andy, Nottingham, UK
How's it been for me? Well thanks BBC, for asking me a question the politicians certainly wouldn't dare ask. Nice bloke and all that, but I'm now a self-proclaimed expert on PR in politics over actual substance and policy. Any successes of this government - although there have been some few have affected me - have been overcast by the incessant and off-putting spin. I wonder, how many hospital beds they could buy with their spin doctors' wages? When Mr Blair can stop the 18:52 GNER server from Doncaster to Newark from being half an hour late every week, I'll revise my opinion. Perhaps.
Andy, Nottingham, UK


Blair has made a good start with Dr Brown, the first qualified economist to look after the money

Adrian, UK
New Labour inherited an NHS in a state of collapse, a ruined transport system, and a seriously underfunded education system. The causes of the current collapsed public services go back to decisions made 10-15 years ago. Do you remember all those tax cuts you voted for? Now you know where the damage came from! Putting right the current mess and bringing it up to the standard of our neighbours is going to take 10 years or more, and it needs money, don't expect to get a top class service for nothing. Blair has made a good start with Dr Brown, who is the first properly qualified economist to look after the money. The Tories give the impression that they can reform the system, and get teachers doctors and nurses from the local supermarket!
Adrian, UK

Things can only get better they said. If things don't improve in five years, sack me said Prescott. Well it certainly got better for the cronies didn't it? The transport infrastructure is a mess and Prescott hasn't resigned. The IRA will disarm, they will not be allowed into government until they do. Well we know what that meant.
Phil Davies, UK


We are beginning to see the substance behind the rhetoric

Greg Jones, Wales
Five years have passed and we are beginning to see the substance behind the rhetoric. The demise of spin doctor par excellence Peter Mandelson is significant in that the last Budget revealed ideological commitment to public service and the government realising that it cannot hide behind it words fro too long. If results are not the product, then the demise of Mr. Blair may follow.
Greg Jones, Wales


Mr Blair's rule has led to the decline of the once powerful Britain in world affairs

Harish, India
Mr Blair's rule has led to the decline of the once powerful Britain in world affairs. Nobody in the world gives a damn about British views on any problem now. After all it is better to talk directly to the master, the US, rather than to its dog, the UK.
Harish, India

I think that Mr Blair is treading dangerous water by becoming embroiled in George Bush's campaign of world domination. I feel that it is a case of the blind leading the blind. We could find ourselves caught up in a conflict with no obvious end in sight.
James , England

To James in England: How is it that the US fight on terrorism is viewed by so many in the UK as a quest for world domination? Tony Blair is a brilliant diplomat and is well-respected by most in the United States. He is right for helping us and we're very grateful for that.
Susan, US

To Susan, US: Where was your fight on terrorism when the IRA was bombing the UK?
Timothy Helm, England


I don't look at Mr Blair with kind eyes

Josie, Cheltenham UK
As a student having to pay tuition fees to my further education, being in debt before I am 20 years old, and not only having to study for my degree but also having to hold down three jobs - you can understand that I don't look at Mr Blair with kind eyes. No wonder less and less people are going to university and signing up for the dole instead. The NHS is in tatters and transport? What transport? More crime, children being attacked in the street and mugged for their pocket money or mobile phone and then when they go to school they are attacked with knives...it's been a long five years, put it that way.
Josie, Cheltenham UK

I must congratulate Tony Blair and his cronies for reviving my interest in politics. Never have I been so keen to see a PM voted out of office! "Things can only get better?" It still applies.
Chris L, London

Whilst I may only be one humble voter, I believe that Labour are no better than the Tories and they have let down every person who voted for them, including myself. The only reason they got back in was because the Tories are just rubbish. The standard of education is now disgusting, our postal system is ruined and further education is now for the rich only, is this really the left wing party?
James, England


The thing that I respect most about Tony Blair is his awareness that countries that are in a position to help others should do so

Sat Philora, UK
The thing that I respect most about Tony Blair is his awareness that countries that are in a position to help others should do so, and have a moral responsibility to do so. His foreign policies should begin to put the UK back on the map as a global voice of reason, an international moderator. I have respect for this man, as he is genuinely trying to do what is right.
Sat Philora, UK

How has Tony Blair coped with various events within five years, or how have we coped with him within these five years? I believe he's trying to make Britain just another star in the US flag! Do I need to say more?
Arthur, England

To Jennifer Ethington, US: On the contrary I hear many condescending and cruel comments against the UK made by Americans when debating with them across the web. It works both ways.
Mark Cordell, England

To Arthur, England: So if Blair decides to integrate the UK fully into the EU, does that mean we Americans can expect an end to the condescending and even cruel comments we keep hearing from your side of the Atlantic?
Jennifer Ethington, US

We're told things are better, but it's not clear to me that they really are. And Britain viewed from outside presents a sad and sometimes embarrassing picture. Blair's baffling crush on the present incumbent of the White House mystifies most Americans, so goodness knows what my fellow Brits think about it at home.
Nigel Ings, US (British citizen)

Chris Ware, UK lists Labour "failures" which already applied to the 2001 general elections that returned a landslide majority for Labour. And may I remind him that apart from Labour and Tories, there's also the Liberal Democrats. Time to give them a chance?
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)


We'll be begging the Conservatives to save us from this pathetic lot!

Chris Ware, UK
I'm not sure what's more worrying - the mess Blair and co. have made in the last five years, or that they will continue in power for another four years! There's the Dome, Railtrack, Eccelestone, Hindujas' cash for passports, a transport system from the Third World, rises in violent crime, shortages in nurses, doctors and the teaching profession. Of course after five years we don't expect miracles, but we don't expect things to be getting worse. To the surprise of many British people we'll be begging the Conservatives to save us from this pathetic lot!
Chris Ware, UK

No modern PM has surely promised more and delivered less. To Blair and dominated Labour party I say never was so much owed by so few to so many.
Matthew R. Illsley, England

I think that the Labour government have been successful during the past five years. After 18 years of the Tories tearing the country apart, the Blair government had a huge job to do and too many people expected too much too soon. Key services - education, NHS and transport were left in such a state that they had to be brought to a satisfactory level before we can hope to reach the standards of our European friends. Obviously they have made their mistakes but people must be careful that they know the facts before they comment - i.e. the Millennium Dome - was it not the Conservative government that initiated this plan and came up with the visitor projection figures which were the crooks of the fall of the Dome?
Matt Callaghan, Peterborough, UK

Is it only five years? It feels a lot longer. Nothing Blair's government has done stands out as an enduring memory: incompetence has become routine and one shade of grey is much the same as another. The New Dawn is a long time coming...
Chris B, England

My strongest memory is of the PM on the Frost show saying that UK health spending would rise to the European average. I shouted up the stairs in joy to my wife - this was what doctors had been demanding for years. The next week, presumably after a dressing down from the Chancellor, he started backing off from the promise, downgrading it to an "aspiration". The penny dropped - "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."
Dr Stephen Hayes, England


Five years of New Labour has been a mixed bag

David Szondy, USA (British)
Five years of New Labour has been a mixed bag. I was immensely pleased with Blair at first. He purged Labour of its loony, dangerous elements and made it a party fit for government. He has also recognised that Britain cannot shirk its international responsibilities or its military commitments. He has, however, proven to be a man without serious convictions, anti-British, mesmerised by the shadow of modernism, a shameless opportunist and unable to tell the difference between a head of government and a head of state.
David Szondy, US (British)

To David Szondy,
Blair did NOT purge the Labour party of extreme hard left elements and make it electable. It was Neil Kinnock and John Smith who did that. Blair arguably has made at least the leadership of Labour centre-right in philosophy which many on the "soft left" of the party have a lot of reservations about.
Brian Delaney, US

How has it been? Infinitely better than the previous years of Major/Thatcher.
Matt, UK

What stands out in my mind is the lowering of disabled person's benefits. The day I really lost all respect for Tony Blair and his party. Spin wise it was a marvellous cover up as well. Does anyone remember it? His justification of it was despicable. It is not enough to live on.
Mel Smith, UK


I am scared about the future. Will there actually be a hospital to treat me?

Simon, England
I agree with Mel Smith, I live on benefits as well due to a disability. The application process has become degrading and intrusive; very hard and very long. And I wonder how much money this saves compared to the Dome or Blair's foriegn fantasy trips? I am scared about the future, will we have a welfare state at all, will I be able to get my medication? Will there actually be a hospital to treat me? Thanks to this government I have absolutely no faith in the future at all. Five years of hell.
Simon, England

After five years in power, there is more sleaze, lower standards of education and health care, more crime, less homes for the elderly and higher taxes and council tax - need I say more?
Caron, England

Lewis - there may well be an extra million jobs (I haven't counted), but how many of these are civil-service penpushers generating nothing for the economy? What did the Labour Government do to help the workers at the Luton Vauxhall plant? Nothing. As for pensioners all receiving the winter fuel allowance - why should others have to pay for Mr Rich Pensioner to heat his mansion? Blair has achieved nothing. The only decent thing this government has done is granting independence to the Bank of England. Labour and the LibDems keep going on about what a mess the Tories left the country in, but that was five years ago - I think we should expect at least some results by now. All I see is a bigger tax bill, more crime, worse roads and a government that seems incapable of action.
John, UK

Lewis, figures can be distorted to fit the required picture, I based my comments on what I see: classes of 35+ at my sons infant school, nearby homes for the elderly being shut, longer waiting lists for the NHS, pensioners worse off than 5 years ago...
Caron, England


There's more than 1.7 million benefiting from the minimum wage


Lewis Atkinson, UK
People have short memories - people like Caron forget that since 1997, there's a million extra jobs in the economy, 300,000 infants in smaller class sizes, more than 1.7 million benefiting from the minimum wage and all pensioners receiving winter fuel allowance. All of this whilst maintaing a strong economy with low interest rates and inflation - people should not underestimate what Blair has achieved, yes there's still much lacking but it is such a real start.
Lewis Atkinson, UK


In DepthIN DEPTH
BBC News Online's in-depth coverage of the English local elections taking place on 2 May.Vote 2002
Full coverage of the English local elections
See also:

13 Jan 99 | UK Politics
Blair faces own House of Cards
07 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Women give Blair hostile reception
09 Nov 00 | UK
'Ill-fated' Dome condemned
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Mandelson resigns
17 May 01 | Vote2001
Prescott 'regrets' blow
05 Jun 01 | Newsnight
Blair interview transcript
21 May 00 | UK
Cherie's joy at baby Leo
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