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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 September 2006, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Blair unveils tribute to Wilson
Tony Blair with the statue of Harold Wilson
Tony Blair paid tribute to Harold Wilson's legacy
Tony Blair has unveiled a statue of his predecessor Harold Wilson in his former Merseyside constituency.

The bronze figure of Mr Wilson sat down, leaning back on his hands, was unveiled by Mr Blair and his wife Cherie, at a civic building in Huyton.

Mr Wilson's widow, Lady Mary Wilson and their son, Robin, were at the event.

Speaking at the event, Mr Blair said: "He was there at the top of politics for many years and I think of him as the first modern prime minister."

He added: "The young kids here, you have grown up with me as prime minister but I grew up with Harold Wilson as prime minister and he was woven into my life as a youngster.

Harold Wilson
He made the country very, very different
Tony Blair

"He was the first prime minister that people thought they might wander up to him in the street and say, 'Hello, Harold'."

Harold Wilson was prime minister from 1964 to 1976 and won four general elections.

Mr Blair paid tribute to Mr Wilson's legacy, including the Open University, which he helped set up.

Mr Blair also paid tribute to Lady Wilson, whom he described as "fabulous".

Family support

He added: "The one thing I have realised doing the job of prime minister is that the support of my family is the rock and foundation on which everything is built.

"There are very trying and stressful times sometimes and to have your family supporting you makes all the difference."

The prime minister and his wife later visited nearby Whiston Hospital.

He met patients and spoke to staff about NHS issues, including MRSA, before unveiling the foundation stone for a new 250m development at the hospital.

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