William Green Political Correspondent TONY Blair was yesterday credited with helping curb terrorism by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who became famous for his leadership following the September 11 attacks.
Speaking in Yorkshire, Mr Giuliani said he had a lot of respect for the Prime Minister and US President George Bush for sticking to a tough line on terrorism – even when it became unpopular.
He said the world had allowed terrorists to "get out of control" by failing to take the problem seriously enough over 30 years, with those responsible allowed to get away.
Mr Giuliani said terrorists were too often released in the past by governments because they were afraid of them, comparing it to the mistakes made in the 1930s over Hitler.
But New York's ex-mayor, who was in charge when the city's Twin Towers were attacked in 2001, said that Mr Blair and Mr Bush were now leading an effective fight against the terrorists.
"I think their determined response to it, against public opinion very often, has helped keep us safe and I think if they had been more typical of some of our politicians, they would have shifted because of public opinion
which would have been disastrous."
He added: "I have great respect for their setting a very determined policy as regard to terrorism, sticking with it when it became unpopular and I credit the fact we have been able to reduce terrorism to what they have done."
Mr Giuliani spoke out about the battle against terrorism and his admiration for Mr Blair in a speech about leadership to UK councillors at the Local Government Association conference in Harrogate.
He said effective and optimistic leadership was vital to improving people's lives, saying: "If the captain of a ship doesn't have a direction, then it doesn't go anywhere."
But the US politician stressed that leadership had to be backed up by a clear set of ideas, a programme to deliver those goals and accountability via clear measurements of success.
Using the example of New York, Mr Giuliani told the conference that the city had been transformed under his leadership using these methods with crime being cut by 65 per cent, the economy growing and thousands being taken off welfare benefit.
But tackling smaller issues was also important to ensure more serious problems were contained, and he used the example of how he took so-called "squeegy" operators off his city's streets.
Those people cleaned car windscreens in the road and expected money in return, even if the motorist didn't want the service, and the problem was getting out of hand in New York.
Mr Giuliani tackled the problem by giving them summonses for jay-walking, and in the process discovered that half were wanted for other crimes.
Delegates at the conference responded warmly to Mr Giuliani's speech, giving him a standing ovation after he finished answering questions from the audience.