Blair ‘proud’ to have served ten years

Tony Blair today marked the tenth anniversary of the landslide election that returned a Labour government and made him prime minister.

While his critics used the anniversary to highlight Mr Blair’s waning popularity, the prime minister insisted it had been a “privilege” to lead the UK for ten years.

Speaking to GMTV, he said he felt “proud” every time he opened a new school or health centre as it shows government investment in public services.

“When you get things done… if you go and open a new health centre or school or just recently on Northern Ireland when it finally came together – those are great moments and then you have very difficult moments too,” he told viewers.

Later, following a brief detour to campaign in Scotland, he visited Labour party headquarters in London to focus on the achievements of ten years of Labour government.

Despite faltering poll ratings, he insisted Labour could win a historic fourth term providing it keeps its “core of steel” and “psychological strength”

While campaigning in Scotland, Mr Blair reiterated his plan to step down within weeks, and gave his strongest hint yet that Gordon Brown would succeed him.

“Within the next few weeks, I won’t be prime minister of this country,” he told party supporters in Edinburgh. “In all probability, a Scot will become prime minister of the United Kingdom.”

However, commentators note that the prime minister stopped short of fully endorsing Gordon Brown as his successor.

With Labour currently trailing behind the SNP in the polls for the Scottish parliament, his comments also appeared as an attempt to minimise the impact of his personal reputation in Thursday’s vote.

The chancellor spoke far more warmly of Mr Blair’s record in government describing him as his “oldest friend in politics” – although he acknowledged they had had their “inevitable ups and downs” over their two-decade relationship.

Writing in the Sun Mr Brown awarded the prime minister “ten out of ten”, and said he had led Britain through “some of the most memorable moments and achievements in our post-war history.”

Among his achievements he listed Mr Blair’s “tireless” work in Palestine and Northern Ireland, alongside social and economic achievements such as the minimum wage, a reduction in child and pensioner poverty and record numbers in work.