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Published on Nov 2, 2007
"Ask me my three main priorities for government and I tell you education, education, and education." Tony Blair's rallying cries in bringing New Labour to power were promises to transform public services. "Twenty-four hours to save our National Health Service." His vision, an end to the struggle of nationalization versus privatization. Instead, what mattered was what works. Targets and league tables arrived; citizens became consumers; the watchword was choice as public and private became blurred.
But it quickly became clear that reform was to be far more difficult than he'd envisaged. "You try getting change, you know, in the public sector and public services, and, you know, I bear the scars on my back after two years in government." Spending on education and particularly health accelerated. A second election landslide showed the public still backed him. But Tony Blair was haunted by the D-word, delivery. He declared all out war on those who would thwart his reforms. "Reformers versus wreckers. That is the battle for this parliament and it is one that we must win."