Tony Blair was sworn in as Prime Minister 10 years ago today after his party's landslide election victory. ANDREW BALDWIN examines how history will see him
AS Tony Blair prepares to leave Downing Street, critics are saying he is well past his sell-by date.
Reviewing his own legacy after a decade in office, he concentrated earlier this week on the NHS.
The Prime Minister claimed to have achieved lasting reform of the health service, while accepting there were still challenges ahead.
He predicted no future government would now turn the clock back and scrap changes giving patients more choice.
But voters saw his legacy rather differently in a poll on his time in power.
In one simple, four-letter word - Iraq.
The survey showed that 69% of voters believe that Mr Blair will be most remembered for the military intervention which brought down Saddam Hussein.
Just as Neville Chamberlain is noted as the man who brought the piece of paper back from Munich, Tony Blair will be known as the man who took us to war - and a legally dubious one at that, some believe.
According to Brendan Evans, professor of politics at Huddersfield University: "You will have to separate the short-term and the long-term in how history will judge Tony Blair.
"In the short-term it can been seen that his regime of 10 years began so promisingly - a new dawn as he called it - especially after the sleaze of the last years of the Tories.
"Yet it ended on the downbeat note of Iraq and sleaze reappearing over cash-for-honours.
"The feeling among voters, and I think it is not entirely fair, is that despite investment in the NHS and public services, things are no better.
"I think in the end he will be seen as a good, but not a great, prime minister.
"But there will never be complete agreement because historians never do agree."
Earlier this week, Mr Blair acknowledged the controversy over Iraq, saying: "Yes, the foreign policy decisions can be very difficult but I'm afraid I don't and never have regretted the part we played in removing dictatorships that were oppressing their people."
But Prof Evans believes it should be a matter of regret.
He says: "I think that had it not been for Iraq, he would have been thought more of.
"He had success in Bosnia, Kosovo and Sierra Leone but got carried away with that and took us into Iraq, despite being warned of the problems.
"Ignoring the advice has led us into the situation we are in today in Iraq."
Mr Blair is expected to announce the schedule for his stepping down after the resumption of devolved power in Northern Ireland next Tuesday.
Some commentators argue that Mr Blair has spent too long at No10.
It is a sentiment with which Prof Evans agrees.
"Ten years is too long for someone to be prime minister," he says.
"One of the things the Americans have got right is that their president cannot serve for longer than eight years.
"I believe, even with the best will in the world, that prime ministers get out of touch and live in a bubble.
"The longer they go on, the worse that gets and the more tired they get."
It's almost a certainty that Chancellor Gordon Brown will become the new prime minister when Mr Blair goes.
What is even more certain is that there will be no action on Tory leader David Cameron's demand for Mr Brown to call a snap general election.
Mr Cameron thinks an immediate poll is necessary to establish whether or not the new prime minister has a mandate from the electors.
Prof Evans says: "I think that's hypocritical rubbish.
"Every time a party has changed its leader, there has been no election - and most of those changes have been when the Conservatives have been in power."
* The General Election of 1997 brought a clutch of new women MPs known as Blair's Babes. They included Kali Mountford in Colne Valley and Christine McCafferty in Calder Valley.
* Another woman was also making her mark. Beryl Robinson became the first woman president in the 78-year history of Huddersfield's Society of Model Engineers.
* Other people in the news on the day Tony Blair was sworn in as prime minister included Status Quo star Rick Parfitt, who underwent life-saving quadruple heart surgery.
* Huddersfield's McAlpine Stadium - now the Galpharm - neared completion when the largest truss to be put up in Europe was winched into place for the north end stand.
* Experts from Yorkshire won a contract - putting Lancashire people to work. Aspley-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce was to run schemes in Bolton, Bury, Wigan and Leigh.