Max Hastings has written an overview of Tony Blair's ten years in office for today's Daily Mail. Five extracts are published below:
Education, education, education?
"For all the deceits peddled by examination authorities, our children are costing more to learn less. A third of secondary school pupils have some record of truancy. Most school-leavers are tossed exam certificates without achieving real skills in literacy and numeracy, never mind knowledge. Our great universities have fallen victim to class-war football, with Gordon Brown the foremost government striker. More and more unqualified teenagers from state schools are pushed towards Oxbridge, while private school pupils are deliberately excluded. Excellence drains away. Under-funded British universities, subject to relentless government meddling, slip ever further behind their American counterparts."
Fatter and fatter government
"In the workplace, the Government has promoted employee rights at the expense of a crippling impact on productivity, in which Britain slips ever further down on the global scale. Public sector workers have prospered. Indeed, thanks to nice Mr Alan Johnson (when he was Pensions Minister), they are almost the only ones left who can look forward to a decent pension. The economy is now frighteningly dependent on public sector jobs - non-productive ones, funded by the rest of us - to sustain employment."
Whiter than white?
"The Blair years have been a boom time for: Ann Summers sex shops (up from 13 to 134 since 1997); free Viagra; CCTV cameras; wind farms; John Prescott; Peter Mandelson; Cherie Blair's lecture income; the prison population; Alastair Campbell; private security guards; sales of illegal drugs; binge-drinking; City salaries; Ken Livingstone; childhood obesity; and grossly incompetent management of the rail system."
Nanny state Britain
"The past decade has been a woeful time for personal freedoms. Forget, for a moment, the excesses of government anti-terrorist legislation. There is something mad about any government which persecutes smokers to the point where they will shortly be banned even from private clubs, yet regards marijuana with far less hostility than cigarettes. Labour whipped many more MPs into the House of Commons to ban fox-hunting than ever turn out to debate child cruelty. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has become an enforcement arm of Blairism, intruding its meddling fingers into every corner of our lives."
"Some might forgive Tony Blair for the catastrophe of Iraq, but will never forgive his abject failure to control immigration. According to official figures - and these, of course, ignore the countless numbers of illegal immigrants - the population of Britain grew by 185,000 in 2005 because of immigration, a trend which means well over a million a decade. Many of the new arrivals not only do not speak our language, but actively reject our values and way of life. They want to come because Britain is famously the softest touch in the world for access, public money and housing. Nobody need agree to anything, least of all loyalty to Queen and country, before being waved through the door. Few Labour ministers care sixpence about the disastrous impact of this influx on social services, housing, race relations and the sense of British nationality."
Read the full article here.