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Getting welfare to work

After a political 'honeymoon' that looked as if it would go on and on, Tony Blair's authority over his government is facing its biggest challenge with the project to reform the welfare state.

Mr David Campanale

Predictably, the problems of dissent have been internal to the Labour Party. But with his popularity still at unprecedented levels and with an unassailable parliamentary majority, the Prime Minister knows the best time to take unpopular decisions is now, at the beginning of a five-year term of office. Reacting to his critics, Mr Blair admitted that 'change is always hard'. But he said: 'The system isn't working and we have got to reform it.'