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Friday, 7 June, 2002, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
MP berates Blair's leadership
Tam Dalyell
Mr Dalyell lamented the "presidential system"
Britain's longest serving MP has labelled Tony Blair the worst party leader and prime minister he has ever worked under.

The Linlithgow MP, who celebrates 40 years in the House of Commons next week, claimed Mr Blair had adopted a "presidential style" that ignored parliamentary democracy.

Harold Wilson, all right he weaved and ducked, but he kept Britain out of the Vietnam War

Tam Dalyell
He criticised the prime minister over his decision to commit British troops in Afghanistan and his apparent support for a future military strike on Iraq.

Mr Dalyell, who is Father of the House of Commons, also attacked the "entourage" of special advisers now used.

The veteran MP said he would put Mr Blair in last place out of the eight prime ministers and seven Labour leaders he seen since entering Parliament.

Redemption hopes

"It's about the bombing of Iraq, it's about what he did in relation to the bombing of Belgrade ... and indeed the bombing of Afghanistan, which was not the right way to go about the dreadful events of September 11," he said.

"It's a difference of opinion".

Mr Blair was not "irredeemable", the veteran MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He could raise his status by changing his mind on bombing of Iraq and by honouring his promise to rebuild the Balkans.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair's leadership style was criticised
Mr Dalyell also launched a strong critique of the row over a former transport special adviser's e-mail trying to discover the political sympathies of the Paddington Survivors' Group of rail crash victims.

"How is it that in a government these youngsters just toss off e-mails without proper thought," he said.

"Special advisers and all that entourage, I think, are a menace.

"I am a believer in the civil service and if you have special advisers, they should give specialist advice."

'Presidential' approach

Mr Dalyell did praise some of the achievements of the government as a whole, singling out Chancellor Gordon Brown as someone who had enjoyed "great success".

He also attacked Mr Blair's approach to Parliament.

In a separate interview for Grampian Television's Crossfire programme, he said: "I would be much happier if he realised that that we live in a parliamentary democracy and not a presidential system."

Mr Dalyell said he was an admirer of Wilson's leadership and that of former prime minister Jim Callaghan.

"Harold Wilson, alright he weaved and ducked, but he kept Britain out of the Vietnam War," he added.

Who do you think have been the best and worst prime ministers? Click on the Have your Say button to get to the postform to send your views. Have your say

Your comments

Best - Tony Blair; Second - Clem Atlee; Third - Harold Wilson; Worst - Margaret Thatcher; Second worst - Winston Churchill (Peacetime Govt) Your earlier correspondent demonstrates a lack of knowledge of UK parliamentary history - Churchill won a peacetime election in 1951.
Chris Rogers, UK

Best: Early Margaret Thatcher Worst: Alec Douglas-Home Best who didn't make it: John Smith Luckiest escape : Michael Foot
Ian Robertson, Scotland

The best PM was Harold Macmillan for his brand of compassionate conservatism, and the worst was the neo-liberal Thatcher who destroyed the reputation that the Tories once had for looking after those less fortunate in society
James Turgoose, Britain

Probably the best prime minister of the last century was Winston Churchill, but I'm glad he wasn't PM during peacetime, as he would probably have been dreadful.
Alistair, USA (British citizen)

The Best PM was Margaret Thatcher, she and her government established the foundations for the economy which Blair (the Worst PM) has been able to milk.
Mike Slade, England

Attlee's number one: NHS, Welfare State, Indian independence, post-war restructuring, a real Cabinet chairman. Worst of them all is Thatcher: 3 million unemployed, recession, privatisation.
J Dhesi, England

Thatcher must be ranked the best. Last place is a tie between Heath and Major, two totally inadequate PMs who were just out of their depth.
Stephen C, UK

Best - Baroness Thatcher, Worst - Tony Blair
Father Richard Seabrook SSC, United Kingdom

Undoubtedly the best Prime Minister of the last century was Clement Attlee, a real primus inter pares, a socialist and a patriot and a founder of the welfare state. The worst, with even less doubt:Margaret Thatcher. At no point during the 1980s did the majority of the country actually want her, it just was split amongst her varied opponents.
Peter Morton, Scotland

I think Blair is the worst Prime Minister I can remember. It worries me that he is more concerned with his future in Europe than doing the correct thing for Britain.
H Skinner, UK

The Best PM was Margaret Thatcher in her 2 first terms. The worst is a tie between the devious Harold Wilson and the self-regarding Edward Heath.
Clifford Tucker, England

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Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Labour MP Tam Dalyell
"I'm entitled to my opinion"
See also:

02 Mar 02 | Politics
01 Mar 02 | Politics
29 Dec 01 | Scotland
22 Nov 01 | Scotland
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