Twenty years ago this summer Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party and New Labour was born. Three years later Labour was elected and stayed in power for 13 years winning three consecutive elections. On this anniversary it’s a good time to reflect on the achievements of the last Labour Government.
‘New’ Labour introduced a wide range of measures to make our country a better place in which to live. Creating a fairer society ‘for the many not just the few.’ Labour introduced a minimum wage and family tax credits to help the working poor. Sustained growth made possible substantial increases in spending on health and education as well as other public services. In the NHS there were 44,000 more doctors, 89,000 more nurses as well as 100 new hospitals. Waiting times were cut from 18 months to a maximum of 18 weeks. The Sure Start programme was introduced for under-threes with 3,380 children’s centres set up. In education 4,200 more teachers were employed with nearly 4,000 schools built, rebuilt or refurbished. Education standards rose: 80 per cent of 11-year olds reached the expected standard in English and 79 per cent in maths compared with 63 per cent and 62 per cent respectively before Labour came to power in 1997. Free nursery places were provided for all three and four year olds while more young people attended university than ever before.
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown presided over the fastest and longest economic advance for three hundred years. This only ending with the world’s financial crash brought about by the banking collapse in the USA. We should not forget that Gordon Brown saved the country from a banking collapse and led the international fight against global recession. It’s also worth noting that today under the Tory led government debt is higher than when Labour left office in 2010.
Labour has a proud record in government and we look forward to making our case for government in 2015.