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Monday, July 26, 1999 Published at 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK

UK Politics

Blair: Labour could do better

Tony Blair is promoting the annual report with a hospital visit

Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted ministers still have much to do to fulfil some of Labour's election promises.

John Sergeant:"No politician dare talk of a job well done"
Promoting the government's annual report, Mr Blair said health and education still required significant changes to meet his election pledges.

The report paints a glowing picture overall of the administration that produced it.

But the opposition dismissed it as a gimmick. Conservative leader William Hague dubbed the government a "mañana administration, full of promises for tomorrow, but failing to deliver them today".

The report claims 90 of the party's 177 manifesto commitments have been met and says another 85 are under way.

[ image:  ]
Only two still have to be put into the parliamentary timetable, the reports states.

But the prime minister expressed irritation with delays in reforms to the health service as he answered questions in an east London hospital on Monday morning.

Mr Blair said: "No-one is more frustrated than me, but I think to turn around a big public service is a 10-year project and it will take time to do it.

"I understand the frustration that things aren't happening quickly enough for people.

"There are still things where we have got to improve things and do better."

'On the right track'

[ image:  ]
In his introduction to the report, Mr Blair said his five basic pledges were all on course to be met.

Mr Blair writes: "In some areas, the government has made good progress but in other important fields, it will take more time to achieve our goals."

Striking an optimistic note, he said he believed Britain's influence in the world was growing and that the country was "on the right track".

"Our public services are steadily improving. Working people have more support, decent standards, paid holiday and more childcare," he writes.

"The economy has avoided lurching from boom to bust."

Political Correspondent John Pienaar: "Downing Street says the report is a more self-critical exercise than last year's"
He said one of the government's biggest achievements was that the nation was starting to look like "a society coming together, not torn apart".

Other success stories cited are falling unemployment and devolved government in Scotland and Wales.

On the downside, the prime minister said it would take years of hard work before the NHS reforms were in place. But he said the extra £21bn, which had been earmarked for health over three years, was "well under way".

Mr Blair also admitted "reforming the complicated web of social security benefits will take more time before its real impact will be felt".

The 88-page document, costing £2.99, will be on sale in "all good bookshops" and is "less glossy" than last year's report.

It features photographs taken by 40 randomly chosen workers, from nurses to coastguards.

The captions have been written by the workers and intend to show how far the government has delivered on its pledges.

Year of delivery 'a failure'

Before the report was published, it was dismissed by the Conservative Party as a publicity stunt.

[ image: The report is a
The report is a "gimmick", the opposition say
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Andrew Lansley said: "The point has come where Labour can no longer publish hyped up over-stylised material.

"The public's experience is that Labour is letting them down. Labour's year of delivery so far has been a failure.

"This annual report is necessarily understated for one simple reason - because Labour are under-performing."

The Conservatives have produced their own version of the document, entitled Labour's Real Annual Report. In it, they accuse Mr Blair of "fudge, failure or delay" on most of his pledges.

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