LABOUR councillors from Kirklees witnessed Tony Blair deliver his resignation speech as he announced to the world he would be stepping down as Prime Minister.
Deighton ward member Clr Ken Smith and Crosland Moor councillor Molly Walton travelled to Mr Blair's constituency in Sedgefield, County Durham, yesterday, where he gave a speech at Trimdon Labour Club.
Hundreds of Labour party members, mainly from the North East, packed out the small club as the Prime Minister announced he would be stepping down at the end of June.
He had travelled to his constituency, with wife Cherie, straight after informing his Cabinet colleagues of his resignation at 10 Downing Street.
Clr Smith and Clr Walton were accompanied by the family of Kirklees Labour group leader, Clr Mehboob Khan.
Clr Khan could not be at the event because of commitments in London, but his wife Samina, son Bilal and daughter Maryam attended on his behalf.
Clr Smith said the gathering at Sedgefield marked the end of an era. He said: "It was packed to the rafters. As it was mainly local people, it was quite an honour for us to have been invited from Kirklees.
"He gave a speech for about 20 minutes and both he and Cherie were quite emotional at the end."
Clr Smith said he felt Mr Blair had been a good leader since his election in 1997.
He said: "I have never been a Blairite, but one has to admire the man for what he's managed to do in terms of achievements for this country.
"It will be a massive sea change in our politics and it is the end of an era."
"I think his achievements have been massive. They are still going on – for example, the Building Schools For The Future programme and the refurbishment of council homes across the country.
"We have seen, at the council, a flow of money into improving lives on the ground over the last 10 years, compared to the very difficult times we had before that.
"Every year Government grants to the local authority were cut back We are getting more and more money from central Government to do things on the ground."
Many have said that the Prime Minister will be most remembered for committing Britain to the Iraq war.
But Clr Smith said this one issue should not invalidate all Mr Blair's achievements over the past decade.
He said: "It is the one shadow one his 10 years and I don't think we are yet in a position to judge it.
"It has to be put in context. I think the Iraq war is something we will probably have to judge many years from now."
Chancellor Gordon Brown is likely to take over from Mr Blair as Prime Minister.
Clr Smith said if this was the case, he predicted Labour could continue to make progress with its policies.
He said: "One of the keys to managing all this is maintaining a strong economy and considering the likely candidate for the leadership of the party, I think it would continue."
Although he has announced his resignation, Mr Blair officially remains Prime Minister until he hands in his seals of office to the Queen.
He will also remain Labour leader until a successor is formally elected at a special party conference.
Labour's National Executive Committee will meet within 72 hours to agree the exact timetable for an election to replace both Mr Blair and his deputy John Prescott.