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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Can Labour win back public trust?

Gordon Brown has told Labour delegates that the party needs to build a 'bond of trust' with the public by being honest about the challenges ahead.

Speaking at the party conference in Bournemouth, the chancellor said: "It is about taking the Labour road, often the hard road".

Labour are facing a tough week: there is disquiet among the party over Iraq, the NHS and foundation hospitals and student tuition fees.

Can the Labour conference win back public trust?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Labour have systematically destroyed the UK as we used to know it. That is why there is a lack of trust. Our national identity is being dissolved in favour of a multi-cultural Britain that not many people want. It is about time Labour was ousted from power, and someone who believes in keeping Britain "British" was put there. None of this Europe nonsense!
Martin, UK

It needs to win back popular support to save this country from the return of a Tory government
Ross, UK
Brown's speech was a welcome injection of passion and a much needed reassertion of Labour values from a government that desperately needs to win back popular support. It needs to win back popular support to save this country from the return of a Tory government which would have nothing but contempt for the NHS and no desire to promote the fairness and equality which, in spite of insinuations to the contrary, the Labour Party remains committed to.
Ross, UK

Half truths, misdirection, back room deals, it all requires a certain type of person. Couple this with the remoteness of the career politician from the real world and you can understand why very few people trust politicians of any party anymore.
Tony H, UK

On the subject of spin - spin has been around since the Romans. UK media employs legions of highly paid political correspondents to report on Government policy. How is it that so few of these highly paid correspondents can differentiate between spin and reality? They are intelligent people, so if I can see through spin and tell truth from fiction, why can't they? The critics should stick to how this country is going to finance public services, and even question whether this country wants public services.

Public trust in Labour was lost long before the Iraq war. They have made promise, after promise, after promise, and nothing has ever come of these promises. We now find ourselves with sky-high council tax, increase petrol taxation coupled with lower-quality public transport. The NHS is in a terrible state, our students (the future of the UK), are being taxed to death with tuition fees. We have had to tolerate a war that the majority of the UK didn't want, but Mr. Blair did. What more is there to say? The sooner Labour leave the corridors of power, the better. It doesn't really matter who is there, because no-one can be much worse than the current administration!
Andy, UK

The damage is irreversible, I think. Sadly many of the people voting this time round will be too young to remember how bad the Conservatives were in power and will be misled into seeing them as some kind of new hope for the United Kingdom.
Simon, UK

Many seem to forget this is the fourth richest country in the world
Paul Edmonds, UK
Most correspondents seem to regurgitate the 'anti-government' media position almost verbatim. It's impossible to have sensible and healthy political debate in this climate. Most seem to blame the government for anything, including the weather. Many seem to forget this is the fourth richest country in the world. We are a success - not a failure as a nation. Sure, we are also an old country with many things to change, a growing working population with only 100% of the pie to go around, and demands for all sorts of improved public services. It strikes me that people want it every which way. And who else could you vote for realistically?
Paul Edmonds, UK

I've never been much into politics, so long as the country is run well and the government doesn't interfere with my life I'm not too bothered who's in power. Blair has managed to fail on both. The government is in a disgraceful state, I'm earning less now overall than I was three years ago because of taxation both petrol and council. So this year for the first time ever I will be voting, anything but labour! I would trust Blair or Brown about as much as I would Hitler! Now I'm off to go and investigate what other parties may be worth voting for.
Nedine O'Brien, UK

It's too late, there has been too many lies, I have no trust whatsoever in this government, they've taken a prosperous economy and flushed it all away. As well as sending off our men and women of the armed forces to fight and die for a war which now appears to be completely unjust.
Graham, Scotland

Just remember Brown's behaviour in front of the Select Committee: he does not deserve to be in office. For public trust, they would need to respond to public opinion: no more lies, sack the spin doctors, admit the errors and stop Gordon Brown's unsustainable spending plan.
David, England

Since Labour were elected I've watched the country I was so proud of, disintegrate before my very eyes, so much so that I am looking to emigrate.
John, UK

Probably the only thing to save the party will be the lack of credible opposition
Steve, Scotland
Even if Blair was to resign (a given if Labour are to have another term) the Party has a hard choice: Stay as New Labour and possibly lose their left-wing support or revert back to the 'old', employer-bashing tactics of the early 70s and lose the 'middle-Britain' vote. Probably the only thing to save the party will be the lack of credible opposition.
Steve, Scotland

My personal experience is that this government has failed. I was appalled to learn today that a hospital which my wife has been admitted to recently and whose service I found slack to the point of dangerous has been invited to apply for foundation status. If this hospital is one of the best I hate to think what the worst are like!
BW, England

The dilemma the Labour party has is whether to win back the trust of its own (dwindling) membership, or that of the public. If it succeeds in the former it will drift back to the petty politics of envy that condemned it to so many years in the wilderness. Let's hope they are successful.
Duncan, UK

No. Especially if they continue with university top up fees. How do you get teachers? They have to study at uni. My daughter will owe 12,000 now when she qualifies and that would rise to about 20,000 if they allowed these fees. Bye bye teachers. I thought they were trying to encourage them not lose them.
Lynn Smith, England

For those who remember the 70s, even a weak, corrupt, leaderless Tory administration is preferable to the nightmare of Old Labour. Keep going, Tony, because it's you alone that make New Labour supportable.

I weep for a once great party that has sold its soul to the free market economy
Tom, Belfast, N. Ireland
I work in a customer service job where the future does not hold much hope, because our jobs are being "outsourced" to India. I cried when Labour lost the 1992 election and now I weep for a once great party that has sold its soul to the free market economy.
Tom, Belfast, N. Ireland

The main issue with Tony is the illegal basis for the war on Iraq. That's not being discussed. He's sincere but misguided. Labour can only have another term if he goes soon.
Richard, UK

Apart from TB and GB, there is a distinct lack of decent political leaders in the UK (and they ain't that good either). It is probably because most of the ideal candidates for PM in this country are standing in a cold field somewhere protesting about either the state of the rural economy or a new airport/bypass! When these people start to club together and form proper multi-issue parties, then we might actually start to get people that are worthwhile voting for.
Liam, UK

Tax and spend, more tax and more spend. Far too many people are willing to vote for things as long as 'someone else' has to pay for it. Those who do pay are too few to outvote the 'hangers on' who will always want more. Next up is local regional assemblies that will cost yet more to run and increase Big Brother's tax take further.
Dave, England

Blair should go now and the party should force the issue
Terence Summers, England
The hypocrisy of Blair, Brown, Clark et al is incredible. They reap the rewards of a first class education funded by the state and yet deny my children the same privilege. They should be ashamed of themselves. Win back public trust...they'd have to win mine in the first instance. Blair should go now and the party should force the issue.
Terence Summers, England

Once trust is lost it is impossible to regain. I now am left with NO political party for which to vote
Jimmy Devlin, England

Blair must go and be replaced by the most popular man in Britain. Not Gordon Brown, but 'Dirty Den', as will be confirmed by tonight's audience ratings.
John Webb, UK

If the Tories get back in then all the good work done by this government will slowly be undone
Antony, England
All this talk of never voting Labour again because of Iraq is pure nonsense, I was and still am totally opposed to the illegal occupation that is taking place, but think for a minute that if the Tories get back in then all the good work done by this government will slowly be undone.
Antony, England

Let's be honest, there has never been 'a bond of trust', between the people and politicians. Surely it's what democracy is all about?
Steve, UK

So, Gordon Brown is appealing to Labour's soul? Unfortunately, he and Tony sold it years ago in return for power.
Andy, Wales

Before Tony Blair can regain the trust of the nation, he must first regain the trust of his own party
Dan Quantrell, UK

How arrogant for some Labour MP's to think that the public would support Labour more under Gordon Brown. All the government policies which I have disagreed with since 1997 (I'm old Labour, so this applies to most of the policies) have had Brown's backing. He'll never get my vote.
Iona, London

What is it with the chattering class, Iraq was a just cause. Saddam would still be in power now if action was not swift. I have not talked to anyone who doesn't agree that this action was not justified.
Baz, UK

Blair's inner circle never made much effort to gain public trust since they placed little value on it
Ken, UK
The New Labour project was founded on deceit by promising all things to all people. The British public, tired of worn out party politics, bought into the spin and gave their trust freely to New Labour. Blair's inner circle never made much effort to gain public trust since they placed little value on it.
They do not deserve to win it back.
Ken, UK

I always watched the conference being a lifelong Labour fan and supporter. Enough is enough. After so much hope that Blair would lead us into all things good and fair, he and his party have deceived all of us, in particular about Iraq. A Prime Minister who feels proud that he was responsible for the death of thousands of innocent civilians and our soldiers who fought gallantly, based on the fact that Saddam was an imminent threat to us in the UK, has no right to be our leader. No, the conference will not bring back my trust. As he deliberately lied to us on Iraq, he is quite capable of lying to us on a whole lot more.
Alex Wilson, Scotland

Tony Blair has for over 6 years run a Presidential style Government rather than the Cabinet Government more typically associated with this country. This style of Government is a double-edged sword, if things go well he can take all of the glory, if things do not go well he must also take full responsibility. For Labour to have any chance of regaining the trust of the British people Tony Blair must realise that he has now become a liability to the Labour Party and stand down as Prime Minister.
Jon S, UK

Admit that the Iraq war was a dreadful mistake. Stop pandering to right-wing employers, and work with the European Union to enhance rights for working people. Either show how foundation hospitals and tuition fees will help those on the lowest incomes, or drop them. Treat asylum seekers with humanity and respect while continuing to remove the fraudulent minority. The performance of Blair in the last year has made me less keen on the Labour government than at any time before in 40 years as a party member.
Robert, Reading, UK

Trust in New Labour depends less on what is said at the conference and more on the effectiveness of the Government in fulfilling its pledges on health, education, crime and the economy. Focusing on the personalities of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown is a distraction from the practical need to revamp public sector services. Outsourcing core services from these services may be trendy, but the public experience is one of frustration and disappointment. Unless the Blair/Brown partnership changes this there is as much hope for New Labour as there would have been for the First Officer taking over the Titanic.
Boyd Rodger, Oxfordshire, UK

When it comes to local issues, Labour is all talk. This party conference is just going to about saying what people want to hear, but they will never even try to achieve these promises.
Luke, London

I don't believe they have lost everyone's trust - the media is overplaying this point, as the media has become effectively the opposition to government. I and many friends still broadly support this Labour government
Martin, UK

Not more slogans, buzzwords, think tanks, etc. Society has become hyper-aware of facade and gloss thanks to 20 years of consumerism
Matt, Amsterdam,
Please, no more marketing gimmicks. The Tories started this vile practice during the late Thatcher years and "New" Labour (nice brand) have taken it to a new level. We want real honest politics, people who put their hands up and say "I screwed up", people who tell it how it is. Not more slogans, buzzwords, think tanks, etc. Society has become hyper-aware of facade and gloss thanks to 20 years of consumerism. It doesn't work anymore.
Matt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (ex. UK)

It is certainly still possible for the Labour Party to again build trust but, sadly, not with Blair at the helm. I know that I and many friends [lifelong Labour supporters and card-carrying members] will not vote Labour again until Blair is gone.
Patrick, UK

I think the party can win back confidence and I think Gordon Brown is going to have to be the man to do it.
Paul, Wales

Coming from Gordon Brown, that is a bit rich, no "bond" of his can be trusted.
It is he who has devised dozens of ways to get round the 1997 election pledge not to raise the basis rate of income taxes, which was sold on the false assumption that it meant that taxes would not rise.
Brian W, UK

This government has lost the great tide of goodwill that brought them to power 6 years ago. They have insulted the intelligence of everyone in this country with the attitude of "They'll swallow whatever we tell them". We aren't stupid.
Philip Meyer, UK

How can the Labour party win back something it never had in the first place?
Simon Ward, UK

How can we trust a party that has so blatantly misled the country, not only on Iraq but also on taxation? Until they admit what they've done is wrong rather than their "so what are you going to do about it" attitude, then the public at large will continue to turn their back on them.
Nigel, Cardiff, Wales

To regain my trust the Labour party needs to ditch the "New" and turn a little to the left
Dan, UK
When people voted Labour in 1997, it was because they had become disaffected with 20 years of Tory policies. They wanted Britain to change course toward a more socialist ideal, with investment in public services as, contrary to Thatcherism, we live in a society, and are not just a collection of individuals. Instead, disappointingly, we seem to be receiving more of the same. Creeping privatization of health and education, road building instead of investment in public transport, ludicrous amounts of property building in the South East, with little investment in manufacturing to boost the north of the country. And unequivocal support for a dubiously motivated unilateral American war in Iraq - from the socialist party of "peace".
To regain my trust the Labour party needs to ditch the "New" and turn a little to the left.
Dan, UK

Although the Labour government has had a tough time over Iraq and the Kelly affair, when it comes to the next general election which will probably be in the Spring of 2005 the people will judge Labour on the traditional big issues such as the state of the economy, health, education and crime. Labour can be quietly confident that they have done relatively well in these areas as the economy seems to be strong with unemployment low. Investment in schools and hospitals seems to be ever increasing as a result of a strong economy. Furthermore, with the Conservatives virtually anonymous in opposition to the government it will be interesting to see if the Liberals can win enough seats of Labour and Conservatives to become the opposition.
Labour will win the next election but how much trust will play a major part in that victory I am not sure rather Labour will win a third term not so much on trust but on the fact there is no serious alternative to replace them.
Peter, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Labour, as with the Tories just before them, have shown themselves to be masters of spin and deception. Didn't they say that they were not going to tax and spend? Look what's happened. Massive tax rises and very little, if any, improvements in services.
Bring back Maggie Thatcher. Whether you agreed with her or not, at least she said what she meant, always.
David, England

Too little too late I'm afraid. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and vote for them twice in the general elections. However as a party they have proven to be incompetent and unwilling to listen to public opinion (suicide in a democracy) so I will be exercising my right as a voter and voting for the Lib Dem's who seem to be the only party with a definite plan on how get England out of it's current hole.
Steve Mortimer, UK

New Labour! Old labour with a toothier grin. Still the same - tax the people hard and try to convince us it will all be right one day...who ever believed them in the first place!
Rod. B, England

Labour promised much but has delivered very little - that is bad enough. Iraq, and the terrible aftermath, where the principal reason for going to war, was clearly a pack of lies, has made me lose all trust in Labour. We are dealing with politicians who are so naive, that they believed that we were at risk, when any sensible member of the British public could have told them we were not. Either way, their time is now up. Trouble is, where is a sensible alternative for the British people?
Alan, UK

Labour can regain public trust, but it will take radical action. Namely the replacement of Tony Blair with a leader the public does not associate with arrogance, spin and unpopular war making. Gordon Brown then I suppose...
John Franklin, UK

Only delivery of genuine public sector reform and a resultant improvement in public services will make mainstream voters trust Labour again. Iraq is only a key issue for the media and the left, just as Europe is for the media and the right. Most voters look to their pockets and their pensions and find them emptier than they were at the last election. It is that the government will be punished for, not for a questionably planned overseas adventure.
Jon, England

Actions rather than words are demanded, we've heard enough. Lets see the proof!
Ben, UK

In my view, the government has never lost trust. I trust Tony Blair implicitly. The only people complaining about trust are the Tories and the anti-labour press. Roll on the election.
Keith, London

As a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party I will find it very difficult to trust a prime minister who has allied himself (and us) with the most right wing American administration in living memory. It is a disgraceful state of affairs and they have certainly lost my vote.
Alan Marcuson, England



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