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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.



For once we've got a government that is doing exactly what it told us it would do

Lindsey Edmunds, UK
Half the comments here say nothing has changed and the other half don't like what has changed. They can't both be right. For once we've got a government that is doing exactly what it told us it would do. I am proud that this is my government. I was never able to say that before.
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.
David, UK


The Tories should take heart from this speech

Jeremy, UK
Tony Blair said "24 hrs to save the NHS" in 1997, and now says "we've made a good start". At this pace we will all have used undertakers before we get to use the new, improved health service! The speech reads like a pre-election address, full of bold generalisations about what he would like to do sometime in the future. I think it is slowly dawning on people that the high hopes that have been raised will never be fulfilled by this administration. The Tories were given a sharp lesson in 1997 and have struggled since then. It is not just they who can see the tide turning. They should take heart from this speech.
Jeremy, UK

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.
Will, Canada

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.
Antony Calvert, UK

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
Frederick Herzog, UK


It was passionate and visionary

Edward, UK
I have concerns about the PFI, but Blair is right - you can't just stop building the new schools/hospitals now, but they do need to work with the unions to get a better deal for workers. As for the rest of the speech, it was passionate and visionary, given by a man with a new found confidence. The Tories must be worried.
Edward, UK

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?
Paul Lockwood, UK

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.
Adrian M Lee, England


Blair has just alienated his ground troops, probably for the last time

Tom, UK
The people for whom Blair has the most contempt, Old Labour, are the ones he will be asking again to do the graft at the next election. This speech offers nothing to these people, not even an independent inquiry into how PFI works in practice. Elections are won by an efficient party organisation, backed by willing and eager workers. Blair has just alienated his ground troops, probably for the last time.
Tom, UK

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.
Glen, UK

Blair is the consummate politician. Listening to the speech, it all sounds so convincing. Reading the text, however, it is all so vacuous.
Malcolm Roxburgh, UK


A good consistent effort to drag this country up by its bootstraps

Julian Moseley, UK
A good consistent effort to drag this country up by its bootstraps. Unless people are continually shown the view from the top of the hill they will tumble back down into the carping mass of anarchy so beloved of the opportunist Tories. Well done Tony. You are the best Prime Minister I have ever seen.
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.
Scott, North Carolina, USA

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.
T Hussain, England

After years of weak minded conservatism, I am so glad that we have a man of conviction and purpose at our country's helm.
Darren Robinson, UK


No one is listening to you any more

Peter M, UK
It is unlikely that many people will truly care what Mr Blair says. He has, like so many politicians before him, waffled on about sincerity and commitment, but for what? We woke to a government full of promise five years ago. Nothing has changed. And that's the point, Mr Blair - nothing's changed. Less hot air, more action please. Believe me, no one is listening to you any more.
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.
Rachel, UK


He is willing to make the case for changes and actions which he deeply believes are necessary

Andrew Cooper, UK
Whatever we may think of Tony Blair, he's a leader. He is willing to make the case for changes and actions which he deeply believes are necessary, even though the unions and public opinion (in the cases of private sector participation and Iraq respectively) are against him.
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.
Edwin, UK

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.
Derek Davey, Barnstaple UK


In Blair's world, oppression is selectively considered

Bob Ferguson, UK
Mr Blair's speech is not yet over, and he speaks with much confidence and conviction. He notes that United Nations resolutions need to be obeyed. He says this includes Israel in relation to the Palestinians. Will he say, then, that if Israel is given a fixed time to implement UN resolutions, the UN should be asked to take whatever action is necessary to make Israel comply? In Mr Blair's new world of radical reform, oppression is something which is selectively considered. I am still listening to Mr Blair. But I know already that his assuredness is not based on a dispassionate morality, but a passionate politics of power. Sad.
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.
Paul Grimshaw, UK

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.
J Ford, UK


Key stories

Background

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 VOTE RESULTS
Did Blair's speech convince you?

Yes
 37.85% 

No
 62.15% 

3387 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion



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