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Graham Watts Dear Friend/Tony/Prime Minister (please delete whichever Mr Campbell prefers)

You were kind enough to write to me recently to ask how I thought you were getting on after eleven months in the job.

You asked me to review your progress on New Labour's ten pledges by ticking some boxes to indicate 'excellent, good, adequate or not enough', but it seems to me that the perceptions of the electorate about how well a government is doing are infinitely more complex than can be judged by counting ten ticked boxes. My personal views on your performance to date are based on the build-up of many perceptions, some of which I will share with you in more than just a tick.

You have a unique opportunity to lead Britain into the Millennium and my gold star is awarded for simply having the courage to stay with the Millennium Dome in the face of the usual British reservations about such megadom. It would have been easy to kick it into touch and blame the Tories, but the Dome will be a remarkable showcase for the immense diversity of British talent, not only inside, but for the design and construction of the Dome itself. The Millennium without the Dome would have been a thousand times worse than Christmas without the tree.

The ten brief manifesto pledges have been followed by a helter-skelter of diverse activity which has created a mountain of consultation papers, green papers and reviews. It is all mighty stuff but perhaps the initiative overload alarm should be ringing in Whitehall. Governments can easily run of steam and if you are attempting the marathon better pacing would be appropriate.

Your economic measures have generally helped our industry, although I suspect the building sector will give you higher marks than civil engineers or any of those who earn their living abroad. Your colleagues deserve great credit for taking interest rate decisions out of the immediate political arena, breathing new life into the moribund Private Finance Initiative and releasing funds for long overdue school and housing repairs.

The New Deal is not going to get 250,000 young unemployed off benefit and into sustainable work and you will no doubt get a lot of criticism for this 'failure'. Personally, I don't care about the guestimates set in opposition since, if only 50,000 youngsters' lives are improved by the New Deal, it will have been worth it.

The Deputy Prime Minister is keen to improve the construction industry and he had asked Sir John Egan to show him how. The Egan task force is the construction industry's big review and the supply side is keen to enter into a dialogue with his team before their thinking is set in concrete.

You have downgraded the construction industry by not appointing a minister of state to sponsor the industry's interests. But what we have lost in quantity, is gained in quality through a combination of the DPM and the excellent Mr Raynsford.

Initial environmental work was a bit wayward and not all of your team were pulling in the same direction, but there are some excellent initiatives now, especially in your transport and energy efficiency portfolios.

Even if the last year has shown that sleaze has no political colour and there are growing reservations about your presidential style, overpowering courtiers, over-regulation and creeping constitutional change, it seems to me that construction has many reasons to be cheerful in its first year under New Labour. If there had been one for construction, I might even have ticked the 'good' box.

Graham Watts is the chief executive of the Construction Industry Council

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