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Thursday, 3 October, 2002, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Blair's speech: Your reaction
Prime Minister Tony Blair has delivered his speech to the Labour conference and pledged that radical reform of the public services will continue.
Bracing himself for a hostile reception from the unions and growing anger within the Labour movement, the prime minister pledged to speed up public sector reform and urged unions to work with him.
Mr Blair's address comes a day after he suffered an embarrassing defeat when the party voted overwhelmingly against using private finance initiatives to run public services.
Using private finance was not a betrayal of public services, but a renewal, he insisted today.
Mr Blair remained firm on his stance on Iraq, saying that military action must remain an option and failure to force Saddam Hussein to disarm will destroy the authority of the UN.
What do you think of Tony Blair's speech? Did he do enough to win over critics in his own party? How will the speech go down in the rest of the country?
This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Lindsey Edmunds, UK
When will some people realise that the old line of 'they're all the same' no longer holds water? The Tories would not have built more hospitals. This government has. It has improved education standards, created a stable economy, instituted a minimum wage, given more power to the nations of the UK, and reduced unemployment, and in particular youth unemployment. It's all too easy to slag off the PM, but things have improved and are improving - perhaps some people will only recognise this if a Tory government returns, privatising rather than using private help to provide free public services.
Reading some of the adverse comments in this column, I am again reminded why, after the results of the census have been released, we find that hundreds of thousands of people have left the country to pursue opportunities in supposedly optimistic new lands. Here is a powerful leader offering vision and optimism, and yet so many people are afraid even to contemplate the necessary changes that he has put forward. I think that we forget the definition of "leadership". Here is a man who is leading his country and his party and not pandering to opinion polls.
Goodness me, have we heard this type of speech before? Blair is full of hot air but short on practical policy. IDS has a real opportunity next week to show the country that he can provide practical solutions to present day problems because, on that ramble, Blair has lost the plot.
Blair was courageous in clearly saying what needs to be said, i.e. the U.K. is moving ahead into the 21st century, and all are welcome to join the parade; but, those who attempt to obstruct, or gain unfair
Tony Blair's comments are just spin. He does not try to answer questions about the value for money of PFI, he just says "if the old ways worked, they would have worked by now". What exactly does this mean? The public services have been sabotaged by many years of under investment. This issue is not mentioned. If they are run inefficiently, then why not just run them more efficiently? Why should PFI do this any better than plain good management? Why is he so scared of getting an independent enquiry to see if his much favoured PFI really is the most effective way to fund public services?
A typical Blair speech. Long on 'visions', 'strategies' and 'ideas' but short on fact, detail and timescales.
Trust you Tony? Again?? I think not. You have betrayed too many, patronised too often and meddled too much.
The problem is, everyone wants results and are not prepared to pay for it. If last election Labour pledged to increase income tax by, say, 7p to pay for better services, you can bet they wouldn't be sitting on a 170 majority now. They're trying to improve things within certain monetary conditions.
Blair is the consummate politician. Listening to the speech, it all sounds so convincing. Reading the text, however, it is all so vacuous.
Julian Moseley, UK
Blair may not be a Tory in name but he acts pretty much like one. This PFI appears to be an attempt to do what Thatcher could not successfully do: privatise the NHS, the schools and road and bridge work. She tried desperately to achieve all of those goals and she failed. Now Blair is doing the same thing but instead of coming out and saying we are going to privatise all of these institutions he is using the PFI as a means of privatisation. His stance on Iraq will not help him either. I've hardly ever seen a British Prime Minister lack so much backbone.
It is my vote that is destroying Iraqi civilians, it is my vote that helped Blair change from leader to follower, it is my vote that is oppressing others nations around the world, it my vote to ignore the Palestine issue, and this is what I have to show. I think Blair needs to wake up and shake up his acts. I thought I had voted for a leader who would lead, not to follow other oppressors, like Bush.
After years of weak minded conservatism, I am so glad that we have a man of conviction and purpose at our country's helm.
Peter M, UK
I utterly disagree with the PFI, it is just cheap labour. My husband works as a porter supervisor in the NHS and he has been offered a ridiculous pay rise of 1.4%. This is scandalous. What about the managers, I bet they'd get 14%. Get it right or decent staff will be lost. I don't think I'll bother voting as everyone is just as bad as each other, except the Anti Euro Party, they have my vote.
Andrew Cooper, UK
Another "Trust me" speech. He has already tried that line and the electorate gave him the benefit of the doubt. He abused that trust with unbelievable arrogance. He and his leadership trounce over democracy wherever they can. He taxes the middle classes ever higher and ignores the poor. His and his party's time are over.
His speech will be ignored by the electorate and covered glowingly by the press. We are not interested in Untruthful Tony, his time is over. Few of us will give any credence to anything he says again because when we wish to argue or debate the point, he's right, trust him... he knows he's right.
Bob Ferguson, UK
I am so glad our government doesn't turn just because old cronies and unions want him to. I am fed up with unions thinking they can force changes through - I voted for Tony, not them.
The poor have stopped listening and Blair's middle classes love it. His policy structures and governmental cloaking allow him to move seamlessly from issue to issue. This allows them to meddle with everything but solve nothing and at the same time give everyone a feeling of familiarity with a common cause.
Full special report
You asked John Reid
30 Sep 02 | Forum
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