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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
It's Newslog, Nick Robinson's unique diary from the heart of the news. It's a two-way process though, so add your comments too.

Thursday 3 October

Your mail
posted by Nick | 1600BST | Add comment
It's time to open the Newslog Party Conference Inbox.

From Larry Lang, US
When Tony Blair's term of office is finished I wish he would consider moving to the US to run for President here!

Perhaps an ideal swap could be arranged. If America wants Tony Blair, I'm pretty sure Labour would be more than satisfied with "the patron saint of Blackpool", Bill Clinton. And how about George Bush taking over the Tories? They certainly wish they had his knack for beating Third Way opponents.

From Mark Seddon
Brown Ale? I think not...

Fair point, Mark. (Earlier in the week I speculated that the reason Mr Blair made what appeared to be an unguarded comment about President Clinton might have been down to his drinking one too many brown ales.) Actually, the last time I saw the PM with a drink in his hand it was in Trimdon Working Men's Club in his constituency, where he ordered a half. If those parts are anything like the area I grew up in, they say pretty rude things about men who order halves!

From Jaime, UK
Do we really believe that Blair is going to be more bold? How many times have we heard the man say that he and the Labour party are reforming and reforming quickly?

Funny you should say that. There was a split among the media watching Blair's speech on Tuesday between those who said "Wow! It's a landmark speech!" and those who said "We've heard it all before... Where's the beef?"

Let me attempt a synthesis. It's true that all the ideas Tony Blair set out have been previously set out elsewhere (though only paid political trainspotters like me may have noticed). However if he means what he says they could amount to a dramatic shake-up of the way the state does its business.

In short Tony Blair has lost faith in the centre (what we used to call the Man in Whitehall) to run our public services. For instance, Blair and Milburn want to break up what they call the monolith of the NHS so that private hospitals, charity hospitals, foundation hospitals and old-style NHS hospitals all operate on equal terms but with the state always picking up the bill.

From Simon Kerry, UK
Is the current CurrieGate scandal enough to warrant a new series of "Spitting Image"? The recent revelations have certainly brought the grey man to life again.

From DJ, UK
Monica and Edwina? Please tell me Edwina hasn't kept a dress in the fridge all these years!

You guys!

Now then, that was fun, let's do the same again next Thursday. So your comments please on the Conservative conference after the weekend.


Wednesday 2 October

Go large!
posted by Nick from Blackpool | 1250BST | Add comment
I have been coming to conferences in Blackpool for nigh on 20 years, but never before have I sensed an atmosphere like this. It's the Cannes Film Festival meets the country's favourite Kiss Me Quick resort. The cause of it all is Big Bill, former President Clinton of course, who's in town to cheer Labour troops, to support his friend Tony, but also as a somewhat uncomfortable reminder of what might have been.

Last night, Clinton spoke to Labour's gala dinner (10,000 a table for the likes of you and me) and inspired them with speech about the importance of international institutions. Surprisingly though, the president stayed just for the first course. So where would he get the supply of red meat which he so famously requires? Where else but under the Golden Arches!

Bill, actor friend Kevin Spacey, and Alastair Campbell and his wife Fiona, were spotted walking down Blackpool front and heading for the McDonald's. To the amazement of the staff, he then tucked into a steak premier, chips and a Coke.

The staff rushed out to buy a Polaroid camera to capture the moment which the world would otherwise have missed.

For afters, Bill reunited with Tony and headed to Labour's Northern Night. Whether it was a case of too many brown ales, or an assumption that no journalists were listening, I don't know. But Tony Blair revealed what he and so many in his party really think when he declared that if Bill Clinton were still in power, so many of the world's problems would be closer to being solved.

I wonder what George W makes of it all.

P.S. In light of Edwina's eruptions it's fascinating to compare the contrasting styles of Anglo-American adulterous leaders, though clearly they both like 'em brash. I suspect Monica and Edwina would get on like a house on fire.

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