Blair regrets 'slow reforms', says Lord Falconer

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Tony Blair will regret the slow reforms made to public services after the 1997 landslide election, Lord Falconer has told the Guardian.

Lord Falconer, one of Mr Blair's closest cabinet colleagues, told the newspaper that the first three years following the success of 1997 was incredibly difficult for policy-makers and the prime minister, describing the period as like "pushing water up hills".

The interview comes as the resignation of the prime minister looms and the ten-year anniversary of his ascent to Number Ten is due to be marked tomorrow, amid predictions of a worse-than-poor performance at the local elections on May 3rd.

"One of Tony's big regrets, I think, would be that we didn't realise quick enough that if you genuinely wanted to change the way the public service delivered for the public you needed to embark upon a process of cultural change," said Lord Falconer, looking back on the past decade of a Labour-dominated government.

"I think it is 99-2000 that he begins to realise that something more profound is required."

Other political figures close to the prime minister have also reflected on the past ten years to the newspaper including former Labour leader Lord Kinnock and the former home secretary David Blunkett.

However Lord Falconer believes Mr Blair's main regret will be the failure to recognise the need for cultural change.

"The cultural change…is you transform from it being a set process in which the public service deliverer is in the dominant position to it being much more driven by the particular needs of the person to whom you're providing the public service," he said.

"I don't think we even really clocked that agenda until four or five years on."

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