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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 09/99: Conference 99  
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EDITIONS
Conference 99 Friday, 1 October, 1999, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Your view on Labour: The first comments we received
To read the latest comments click here

Labour is the party of high taxation. Every budget produced by this government has increased my overall tax bill by a significant amount. Particularly unfair are the extra taxes imposed on pensions and savings.

Labours policies are all aimed towards families - there are many single people out here who feel forgotten by the government.

From what we see on television, Labour are, quite rightly making a big issue out of child poverty, however MPs do appear to live like lords. Isnt it about time that politicians started to live less high on the hog at the taxpayers expense - savings could go towards reducing child poverty.
Mike Rose, Cambridgeshire, UK

Why doesn't Britain join NAFTA instead of the EU? You always have had more in common with us than with the Continentals. As an added benifit you wouldn't have to worry about the French and Germans, who dominate the EU, dictating policy in Britain.
Evan, Florida

Mr Blair is promising opportunites for all regardless of background etc.... Perhaps he might look around his own "cabinet" and see most including himself are from in some cases rather humble backgrounds. Opportunity already exists. His own wife is a clasic example.
Elizabeth Sexton, Cambs

Most of the the government's ideas relating to transport policy seem to be aimed at penalising people living in rural areas, notably fuel prices and silly speed limits. It should be possible to publish where and how road accidents have occurred to justify any new regulations. Most drivers are not stupid. Motoring morons will drive irresponsibily irrespective of the limits.

Most of the other problems are in urban areas, ie congestion. How does increasing fuel prices address that problem. What is the sense of increasing fuel prices for rural dwellers who don't normally contribute to congestion.
David Moore, Suffolk

As a human geographer, I find Blair's comments regarding social injustice both interesting and important. During his nostalgic and romantisied speech he did discuss British social injustice, but failed to give any indication to how he is going to cause the greatest revolution ever and abolish injustices and therefore inequality.

As a young student without parental or governmental support and debt beyond belief, I am dubious to Tony Blair's promises regarding this social revolution and belive that it will only lead to further poverty and suffering within the still existant class system.
Miss Ruth Purves, a university in London

Britain's constitution supports a democratic government, however, the current government is ruling like a dictatorship. Tony Blair is in charge of everyone and everthing it would seem - his own cabinet members are use as puppets by the great dictator. The Labour party are dictating to the countryside -

- You will not hunt foxes

- You will drive at 50 miles per hour

- Small farmers will not operate profitably in this country

- You will all pay higher road taxes and pay 80p in the £1 tax, for petrol to get around Townies should stick to the towns and stop dictating to people in the countryside. They do not appear to understand the countryside way of life.
Dawn Shaw, Berwickshire, Scotland

Gordon Brown's claims to be supportive of enterprise, small business, technology and reasearch are simply not compatible with the recently confirmed tax changes of IR35.

I run a small business offering consultancy in clinical research in the pharmaceutical industry. Under IR35, from next April my income will fall by 30%. I will be forced to close my business and re-enter the crowded employment market.

Many other businesses, especially in the research and technology sectors, will be similarly affected. These punative measures will destroy the livelihoods of many thousands of entrepreneurs.

Why is the government not listening to us, and how can their actions be compatible with their claims?
Ruth Whitehouse, Nottingham

My views on Labour are that they do not complete what they promise. When students in schools across the nation study history and politics, they will look back on Tony Blair's rain as Prime Minster and say what did he do for our country, from what I know and read he helped have student fees for uni be introduced, he hasn't done any thing to wipe out world dept, he says that students can't go on holiday during termtime but most people in England can't afford to the abdominally high prices to go on holiday anywhere, he also promised that NHS waiting lists would go down but that has never happened, he has said that schools can't be Grant Maintained which means that they have less money.

His son's school was Grant Maintained and now that it's extra money has gone the schools have been requesting certain amounts of money from parents some of whom can't afford it, unlike you. Is he going to pay the fees or is he going to stand by his descision. I know now that I should not have vote for him and I will never vote vote for him again or his party, I will not put into words what I think of him because that would not be polite.
Miss Alex Smith, Wirral

Question :

When is a business not a business ?

Answer :

a)When it is in arguably the fastest growing industry sector (IT)

b)When the Entrepreneurs are those who risked their 'comfortable' permanent jobs for the relative insecurity of running their own enterprise - and have made a huge success of it !

c)When these risk takers are seen by the Inland Revenue as 'disguised employees' and supposedly 'evade' (or is it avoid ?) tax.

d)When you (Government) can be influenced that such a small organisation can be a threat to a much larger Consultancy company who can then be exempt from the stifling rules applied to their smaller competitors.

The Prime Minister seems happy to embrace the 'E-world' of the 21st Century, whilst his Chancellor and Ministers seem intent on alienating the creative talent that could put Britain at the forefront of the next Industrial Revolution.

What on earth is going on ? Is this the reality behind New Labour - for the many and not the few ?

PS - Maybe it should be pointed out that the Minister responsible for this proposal was a poll tax defaulter in 1991 !

Maybe she could send us all some tips on tax avoidance !
Paul, London

I think Tony Blair's stance on Human Rights is hyporcritical to say the least. On the one hand he wants us to see him as a great humanitarian, on the other, his Government is selling arms to the violent Indonesian militia and his foreign secretary is visiting Iran in order to extend diplomatic and trade relations. Completely ignoring the fact that the Islamic Government has been responsible for widespread atrocities against innocent civilians, most of them young people under the age of 20.
Jane Williams, Berkshire

Why is it that politicians are spending so much time in dealing with fox hunting? It was a waste of time the last time it was brought up. There are people in this country who are also treated badly. I am not suggesting that the fox be forgotten, but an politicians time divided between fox and people would be nice.
Michael Davis, Cheltenham

Why is it that politicians are spending so much time in dealing with fox hunting? It was a waste of time the last time it was brought up. There are people in this country who are also treated badly. I am not suggesting that the fox be forgotten, but an politicians time divided between fox and people would be nice.
Michael Davis, Cheltenham

It was in July when Tony Blair said on Question Time that he 'would get the vote' to ban hunting with dogs.

Since that time there have been no further developments but plenty of rumours that the Government is reigning back on Mr Blair's commitment.

Why the delay? MPs and the public overwhelmingly support a ban. Why has no one in Government assumed responsibility for the issue and taken it forward? What is the problem?
Ivor Annetts, Tiverton, Devon

Mr. Blair gave an assurance that there would be no ban on shooting or fishing in the wake of his intention to ban fox hunting with hounds. Unless some commentators are correct with regard Mr. Blair's presidential ambition, he is not in a position to offer such a promise - it will be for the government or parliament to decide.

As the Labour Party intends to adopt the Animal Rights Agenda it must recognise that the iniquitous attack on fox hunting is the beginning of a road that leads to acceptance of their next claims - no shooting, no fishing, no stock farming and eventually no pets.

Mr Blair is wrong to believe that he can marginalise the foxhunting issue and buy off the countryside with a financial response. Fox hunting is central to the rural issues - to condemn it is to adopt a stance that says that the Labour Party cares not for the cultural fabric of a significant minority.
Nick Onslow, Canterbury, Kent

Labour obviously have no idea about transport policy. I work in Bournemouth and live about 7 miles away. My car is my only option,public transport would take me at least 1 and a half hours. Until there is provision to get people sensible distances in sensible periods of time nobody would consider using buses. One other point, Bournemouth has been gridlock this week, i can't imagine why!!!
Paul Martin, Bournemouth

Blair is gorbachov. He has started a revolution in Britain that he will be unable to finish. We must have a republican constitution with an elected Head of State and an elected Senate. Otherwise changes are superficial.
John Hardy, New York

The Labour Party is the best one on offer at the moment. I voted for them in 1997 and will do so again at the next general election.Why? Because I don't like extremist parties (right or left) The Labour party of the 1970's(to left) & the Tories of the 1980's (to right)both did this country great damage,both nationally and internationally. The modern New Labour party is just right with its economic policies which is creating the wealth which will deal with the many social problems this country is experiencing. The Conservatives are trying to modernise but you couldn't trust them not to lurch to the right.Hopefully the ship Tony Blair is sailing will remain steady and unsinkable,it should do he's a great captain.
Steve Wallis, Eastbourne, UK

The British people are gradually realising that Tony Blair talks a good game - but in most areas of principle and substance - has failed to deliver the goods. The time for blaming the Conservatives is long gone - especially as they left Labour with an excellent economic legacy. Blair stands for nothing approaching a coherent political philosophy except gaining and keeping power. That will eventually be his and Labour's undoing.
Rob James, Ealing, West London

I feel the Labour Party is betraying its core working class voters with things like tuition fees, no renationalisatiion, and failing to even try to claw back the £18 billion the Tories saved on squeezing benefits - do you?
Paul Heron, Nucleus Legal advice centre

On Frost on Sunday the Prime Minister stated that the House of Lords blocked the Foster Bill. He said this a second time after David Frost questioned this. This is an outright lie; the government refused to give the Bill time.

After being bought by the Animal Rights movement he now sees fit to try and ban hunting. Money and lies. Is Blair fit to rule this country?
Marc Dradge, Fife, Scotland

When I helped them into power at the last election, I was impressed at New Labours commitment to potentially controvertial & unpopular legislation in the interests of giving the consumer and small business a fairer deal.

Now, as a victim of their IR35 steamroller, I find myself deeply concerned at New Labour¿s willingness to discretely bypass the democratic process to put expedience before fairness. Small businesses have been effectively eliminated from any consultative process for IR35 by evasive and uncooperative contact with the Inland Revenue.

We are left with an IR35 implementation that will bias knowledge-based sectors towards large foreign corporations at the expense of our home-grown small businesses, thus slashing profits. Ironically, IR35 also prevents those small businesses from using more than a small fraction of their profits to expand. The rest must be processed as salary, with Income Tax and National Insurance deducted at source.

I fear that as New Labour hones its stealth skills, this may just be the tip of the iceberg.
Tim Barker, Barnsley

I keep hearing about all this money being out into education. As Chair of Governors of a Primary School on the Isle of Dogs could someone explain to me why, in real terms, we are receiving less money now than we were three years ago? Also where is the money coming from to pay these 'star teachers' bearing in mind that all our teachers are stars?
Patricia Gibbs, Isle of Dogs

The Treasury and the Inland Revenue claim that the driving force of the so-called IR35 regulations for personal service companies is fairness. What is fair about making all my business's income subject to PAYE after expenses when large American consultancies are exempt. These measure s will drive members of the fledgling knowledge based economy overseas.
Douglas Coulter, Berkshire

Labour promises to make the UK a world leader in E-commerce and the Internet.

IR35 (Inland Revenue's tax avoidance through personal service companies press release) means that small consultancy firms that are usually involved at many stages of Internet related development (we need to be - our skills are very rare in a corporation) will be unable to compete with the large IT consultancies. Nearly all Internet companies have started small, and grown. We could be about to prevent one of the most important steps in forming a successful Internet company - the one-man/woman consultancy.

Large consultancies whose workers are not shareholders will be able to retain any net profits they make. Smaller consultancies (like mine) will only be able to retain 5% of "related" profit from IR35able income, the rest must be paid to the consultant as salary. I (and many of my collegues) are not in this just for personal gain, I want my companies to be successful and enable my staff and I to retire early! How do I pay my other staff, set aside capital for bad cashflow months and start up new businesses without any bank loans - when I only have 5% of my profits to reinvest into my company?

New Labour needs to see that we must promote our (rare) Internet skills, keep them here and make the UK a truly "wired" country. Not force them abroad to tax friendly competitors, where we can compete on more equal terms.

I will be part of the new "geek-leak" if this legislation becomes law - taking my corporation tax, VAT, NIC and income tax with me.
Andy Crane, Bristol

We hear Labours promise for a fairer future, it's promises about equal educational and employment oppertunities for all children of all back grounds.

I am an a' level student currently considering, along with my peers, whether or not to apply for university. A pattern is becoming blatently clear in my college - those whose parents are well off and can afford to support them are applying for university. Those whose parents do not have several thousands of pounds to spare, those who have seen the poverty in which working class students have to live, those who are aware that they will choose between living on the bread line or failing in their studies because of the amount of time they have to spend at work, those are the people who are not even bothering to send off their UCAS forms.

When my mother went to university she was given a few pounds from her parents to help her decorate her bedroom. For her generation your parent's income did not dictate whether or not you had to right to continue your education to the highest level. No one can live off a current student loan, no one can expect to perform to their best at university while trying to earn a living wage. This is not a fairer futre, this is a step backwards to the days when the rich were educated and the poor didn't have the oppertunity.

I support the governments attack on child poverty, perhaps they should remember though that poverty does not just effect five year olds and education does not end at sixteen.
Claire Langdon, Cornwall

The government promise full consultation on a wide range of issues, including fox hunting, the transport industry, Europe, Sterling, IR35, to name but a few.

But, after promising this consultation, they then proceed to steamroller their flawed views into law without ANY of the promised consulation.

When will this Government cease their undemocratic behaviour, and actually find out what the people REALLY want?
Adrian Vickers, London/Liverpool

Robin Cook's planned visit to Iran makes a mockery of all it's promises of 'ethical foreign policy'. Does Robin Cook realise more than 800 students in Iran are currently facing death now? Does he realise 4 have already been sentenced to death?

Is this the right signal to send to the medieval priests ruling Iran?.
Shahnaz Assadi, Birmingham

Why is it that the Labour Government is not opposed to the shutting down of the grammar school system? Tony Blairs policy of ' Education, Education, Education' seems intent on letting a few people with the wrong idea about grammar schools try and shut the lot down. People at comprehensive schools who are above the normal standard recive special lessons any way, so why shouldn't grammar schools exist for the sole purpose of providing a system where everyone can be taught at the same level? People who are more intelligent than the norm at comprehensive schools are often shut out by their peers, at least at grammar schools people feel comfortable with their intelligence.
Samantha Fitton, Birmingham

I would like to ask the Labour party why they have decided to remove GM status from schools allowing the LEA to take as much as 20% of the money given for schools away as expenses. This is completely unfair, and as we have seen even the Prime Minister is now being asked to Contribute to his sons education, as are my parents.
James Courtenay, Sixthform Student, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex

Why don't you come clean on the Euro now and have a referendum on wether the people want the euro or not at least it would settle the issue once and for all, instead of the fudge the government keeps sprouting.
Mr Butler, Rochdale

How can Tony Blair say that he supports small businesses and entrepreneurs when his government brings in legislation (IR35) which makes us uncompetative with the rest of Europe.

Perhaps what he really means is the he supports small businesses and entrepreneurs from outside of the UK. New Labour bangs another nail in the coffin of British business.
Andrew Stansbury, Portsmouth

I was disgusted at Labour's blatant propaganda tactic of implying that the Countryside Alliance has been infiltrated by the BNP. As far as I am concerned any moral advantage held by the government over country sports has been completely lost.

Do they assume that we , "the people" are complete idiot's? and are unable to see their propaganda for what it is ? A blatant attempt to divide opinion by dirty tricks and lies!

Is it any wonder that those of us who care about the countryside feel that this government is not listening to our valid concerns.
Chris Davis, Herefordshire

Ignoring local activists is about as daft as leaving a house plant (rose) in a window and forgeting to water it - you get the same result both ways.
John Vincent, Reigate

I feel labour do not stick to policy's they have promised the electorate. Tony Blair constantly seems to say one thing and do another.
Rachel Oldham, St Helens

With the Daily Telegraph's recent claims that Labour will "massage" its party membership figures, there has consequently been rising sceptism about the future of political parties. Why and with what political consequences are political parties in decline?
Lucy Crystal, Manchester

In Scotland New Labour is alienating Old Labour's traditional support. Many now vote for the socialist SSP and the social democratic SNP. However many more will not even bother to turn out to vote for a party who they believe has turned it's back on them. That's the message of Hamilton South by-election.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

I feel as if the government has abandoned people like myself who are disabled and have problems in getting a job. The problem is that I am not well enough to get a full time job but I feel as if I am being bullied into this position because I will not be able to claim DWA or tax allowances because I have a partner working which makes it difficult for me to try to get into work. Also the people who are supposed to be helping me are not. I am at my wits end because there is no help for me.
Tanya Headley, Manchester

All the surveys point the same way. Many British people, especially young British people like to use drugs recreationally. The vast majority of these people do not have a "drug problem" and do not engage in anti social behaviour.

While drug use certainly can be dangerous for both mental and physical health, the current USA led dogma of prohibition serves only the interests of organised crime. Further more it serves to alienate hundreds of thousands if not millions of other wise law abiding young people. From an early age kids see the police not as the protectors of their community but as the "fascists who take your hash away".

Rather than jumping on this age old band wagon, that has long since been dicredited the government should have the courage to face the reality that drugs are a part of life and a part of British culture. What is needed is education not dogma.

The link between crime and drugs stems largely from the fact that these things are illegal, it is a farcical self fulfilling prophecy.

Finally has the government not a moral responsibility to stop branding millions of British citizens as criminals when their only crime is to prefer to relax with illegal rather than legal drugs. Some like to wind down with a scotch, for others a joint is preferable. Some like to snort cocaine at parties, while others are content with champagne.

Is it not time to grow up about drugs and stop this ineffective prohibitional nonsense?

Is this not yet another example of the Labour government trying there hardest to out Tory the Tories rather than really facing and tackling the issues and problems of contemporary Britain?

What a disappointment they have turned out to be for the millions of us who were hoping for a new start and a fresh approach back in May of 1997
Imran Durrani, Taiwan

I am confident the future lies with Labour/Liberals/progressives. One mill-stone remains- monarchy. This has to be faced. I don't believe the people want Charles 3. Only a small step to a republic?
Stephen Archer, Harlow

Why don't you give it a rest and give the job to a young and up and coming labour politician, to take us into the next election and beyond,we might win a few more seats, only joking.
Amarjit Johal, Labour member, Birmingham

Why doesn't the government argue the case for us joining NAFTA instead of the Euro? As a member of NAFTA we would keep control of our economy, keep our democracy , and be able to keep the unemployment level down, while retaining the right to leave if we needed.

With the unemployment levels within the Eurozone at 11% against our level of 6% surely no-one can be arguing the Euro will be good for employment? Also why do both Norway and Switzerland (both outside the E.U) have lower unemployment at 4% than ours while still exporting a larger percentage than we do to E.U members, surely the whole concept of the E.U is flawed?
Stephen Hanwell, England, UK

When this government came into power, Tony Blair promised that a Regulatory Impact Analysis would be carried out for all legislation. Why was this not done for the forthcoming IR35 legislation?
Tim Almond, Swindon

When will the government introduce a proper Freedom of Information bill, instead of the watered down bill that Jack Straw has proposed?
Steven Gavrilovic, Cannock, Staffordshire

Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

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