Follett brands Blair 'embarrassing'

PUBLISHED: 14:54 12 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:51 06 May 2010

Barbara Follett

Barbara Follett

A LEAKED document describing prime minister Tony Blair s plans for a stage-managed departure from Number 10 has been labelled as embarrassing by one MP. Barbara Follett, Labour MP for Stevenage, told The Comet her party had done itself immense damage follow

A LEAKED document describing prime minister Tony Blair's plans for a stage-managed departure from Number 10 has been labelled as embarrassing by one MP.

Barbara Follett, Labour MP for Stevenage, told The Comet her party had done itself "immense damage" following last week's in-fighting.

The publication of a leaked document which set out how Mr Blair would leave in a blaze of glory with a series of television appearances and a tour of the country was described by Mrs Follett as embarrassing.

She said people were too fed up with Mr Blair for him to expect a "farewell tour of Britain".

She said: "I don't know why it was leaked. I don't like leaking documents as a way of managing news."

The issue of leadership and when Mr Blair should step down dominated the news last week with allegations of plots to remove him.

Mr Blair bowed to pressure and said for the first time he would be gone within the year.

Mrs Follett said: "I feel very sad. All sides came out of it badly - Blair, Brown and the press.

"It became sensationalised. I share Tony Blair's distaste for it. I would like to apologise to the people of Stevenage.

"There are so many things happening in the world. This sort of thing happens in politics too much. I don't like this type of game.

"I didn't sign the 'get Blair out' letter but I didn't sign the keep Blair letter either. I think it turns the public off.

"I think he should go at a time of his choosing. But once he said he was going of course there is going to be speculation.

"He has said he will go by this time next year and that is good enough for me.

"I have spoken to Stevenage residents and their opinion varies from 'we want to keep Tony Blair' to 'get him out at once'. It is sad things have got this bad."

When asked who she would like to replace Mr Blair she replied without hesitation: "Gordon Brown, because I think he can carry on the good work that Tony Blair has started. I think he can inject a new future into the party which is something we need."

She said Blair's leadership had benefited the people of Stevenage. She said: "He will be remembered for two things in Stevenage - for helping to get our town more prosperous which we will see once the town is regenerated. The second thing is the improving school standards."

She said when she first arrived in Stevenage in 1995 only one third of primary school children could read at the level of an 11-year-old. That figure is now over two thirds.

She said there are problems in the health service at the moment with Lister Hospital "because more and more services are offered in GP surgeries and the hospital didn't cater for that".

Mrs Follett meets with hospital bosses regularly but said: "There are too many hospitals in this area and not enough people going through them. "They are meant to treat very sick people. Not minor conditions. Not even chemotherapy. It is expensive for people to go into hospital for the State. In a way I would like to see them de-centralised a little bit and get GP surgeries doing more.

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