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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Can Tony Blair rebuild voters' trust?
Prime Minister Tony Blair has said he will continue to tackle the possession of weapons of mass destruction by "repressive states" despite continuing controversy over the war in Iraq.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Blair justified his actions by saying that the security threats facing the world were completely different from those seen during the Cold War.

Delegates at the Labour Party Conference are due to discuss the situation in Iraq on Wednesday afternoon following a vote on foundation hospitals, one of the government's key NHS reforms.

In a speech to conference on Tuesday the Prime Minister said that there could be no compromise on public sector reform and student fees.

What did you think of Tony Blair's comments? Can the prime minister rebuild the voters' trust?

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


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

Two Points to make. 1) When was the last time we had a strong and committed leader? 2) Any country regardless of what weapons they might have, that kills in the thousands their own people and others, does not deserve to be in power and the civilised nations should put an end to it. As far foundation hospitals go? Sorry, I am glad Tony was defeated, beef up the NHS and pay the deserving staff who look after us more money, I don't mind paying more tax for that. BUT as far as my vote goes, Tony will get it all the time, he has vision, and drive, go for it Tony.
Peter Berry, UK

Tony Blair may have convinced his party to think his way, but he won't convince the country.
John Scott, UK

An accomplished speaker is not necessarily an honest one
Anne Newman, UK
So Tony made a fantastic speech, it was but it's also worth remembering that one of the greatest speakers/orators of the 20cent was Adolph Hitler. I cannot speak German but those who can say he was awesome to listen to. Now I am not suggesting Tony Blair should be likened to Hitler (he made the trains run on time) but an accomplished speaker is not necessarily an honest one.
Anne Newman, UK

Hearing some of these so called left wing delegates at the conference who think they are speaking for Joe Public is laughable. They seem to think the government has unlimited money trees to pay for the NHS and education. I think these delegates should learn basic arithmetic and economics before they voice their trumpets.
Richard Davie, Scotland

No, he is incompetent on domestic issues and a liar on Iraq. Coverage of the Labour Party conference would indicate substantial stage managing to keep embarrassing questions of the agenda. No body will dispute that Saddam had to go but to lie to the people, attempt to cloud the death of Dr. Kelly, not to mention the people on both sides. If he will not go to the country at least allow Brown to win his spurs.
Dave Craggs, UK

I agree Tony Blair has got a severe scratch from the Iraq issue. However, on domestic issues he is right, right, right. A return to conservative underfunding of public services or, equally bad, old Labour irresponsibility under Gordon Brown is simply unthinkable.
Havard, US (British)

Prime Minister Blair is a man I wish was running for office here
Barbara, USA
I think Prime Minister Blair is trying to do the best he can, in a horrible situation. I feel more safe now. My mother is English and she wanted to go back to visit her family so badly last year but was afraid to fly. She now has plans to do that next spring. We could not sit by and let terrorist continue to bomb, kill and destroy whatever they wanted to. Those people on those planes and in those tower had lives and plans for those lives now they are no more. To say it is not necessary to free a people oppressed is wrong. The Iraqis had to live under a tyrants rule... would you? Mass graves remind me of Hitler and WWII. My prayer is peace comes soon and that everyone stops the arguing over who is right and who is wrong and get the country of Iraq back to it's people... a free people... with an elected leader, not a dictator. Prime Minister Blair is a man I wish was running for office here.
Barbara, USA

No, he will not rebuild voters' trust for as long as there is talk about better explaining the government's case to the public. That's just a euphemism for spin.
JOHN, UK

Well is Blair even trying to rebuild the trust? In my opinion what he is arguing is that 'I am strong headed and when I come to a decision I will go through with it even if it is the wrong decision, and since these are perilous times this is a good thing.' Well what Blair forgets is that when the majority of the world things that at some extend you have made errors by not acknowledge them or by not investigating weather you made mistakes or not you are not strong headed but plain stubborn with no hope of improving yourself.
Minos Papaioanou, Greece

He is putting his job on the line for a cause he believes in
Peter, San Diego, Ca, USA
On some level you have to respect Blair. All along he has continued to stand by his beliefs regarding British involvement in Iraq. Even with popular opinion against him, he continues to do what he knows is right for the war against terror. By now, most politicians in his position would just do what his constituency wanted in order to get re-elected. He is putting his job on the line for a cause he believes in.
Peter, San Diego, Ca, USA

Tony can rebuild voters trust if he re-focuses on the UK. There is still much work to be done to re-build the country from the nightmare of Conservative rule. Most of the population suffered during a Thatcher dynasty that saw negative equity and the destruction of the country's infra-structure. Tony needs to push for more radical reforms on education, social delinquency, immigration and the transport system to get the country back on track. The politics of the world stage should be kept in perspective. The "repressive states" will not have weapons of mass destruction if they are not sold to them by the US and UK. Let's get things right here before we dictate on how other countries should handle their affairs.
Kevin C, Aberdeen, UK

Tony Blair has lied and broken promises from before he became PM - but his supporters didn't mind because it wasn't them who suffered. Now it is and the hypocrites are squealing. What did they expect? Oh, and yes - I do want the Tories back.
Alex Swanson, UK

I think Blair's instincts on terrorism and the Middle East are correct
V Narayan, Sweden
Intelligence on WMD was never reliable. Leaders have to rely on unreliable information as the CIA is not omnipresent. Voter should realise that leaders are human. Don't put Blair on a pedestal, just focus on policy. I think Blair's instincts on terrorism and the Middle East are correct.
V Narayan, Sweden

Tony Blair can only regain voters trust by focusing back on the real issues that confront us in every day life and not those appealing to his worrying messianic zeal. Far from showing leadership over Iraq, Tony has shown a terrible disregard for the facts and for asking probing questions, preferring to trust his instincts, which were wrong, wrong, wrong. Worryingly it seems that his answer is to serve up more of the same.
Barry B, UK

I respect Tony Blair, he is pro active in his approach to some extremely difficult and controversial issues, leaving him open to criticism. We don't like Blair, as he is the only politician prepared to do what he feels is best, and not simply obey public opinion, which is often relatively uninformed and naive. I respect Tony Blair.
Sam Brown, UK

It's about time New Labour recognized that they need a leader who is more than just a good PR guy
Glenn Barker, Canada (Ex-UK)
I'm no left-wing critic. In fact I'm (ex-UK) because of Margaret Thatcher, and I have no wish to see Britain return to such appalling conservative government. However, it's about time New Labour recognized that they need a leader who is more than just a good PR guy now. Get Gordon Brown in quickly before Blair loses a large part of the New Labour vote in the next election would be my two cents (ex pennies).
Glenn Barker, Canada (Ex-UK)

The main advantage for Tony Blair is that there is no alternative.
Gareth Crawshaw, England

I wouldn't believe him if he told me my name was Barrie!
Barrie, UK

Tony Blair - hopelessly out of touch, totally out of control and out to lunch. Here's hoping he'll be out of here very soon. And no, I don't want the Tories back. The Lib-Dems are actually offering a viable alternative, if only they weren't so 'wibbly'. There's too much modesty along the lines of, 'erm, actually we're alright but it's thanks to Labour being rubbish.' Charles Kennedy would be a better leader than Blair.
Fiona, UK

"The trouble for the Tory party today is that there is an even better Tory Party currently in government."
Grace Harkins, UK
I think Tony Benn said it all when he opined: "The trouble for the Tory party today is that there is an even better Tory Party currently in government."
How true, Tony. How true.
Blair's speech was dishonest in content. Well written, yes, but look at the substance and it folds like a house of cards! A few jokes scripted by spin doctors and some rousing rhetoric won't cut it, Tony.
Grace Harkins, UK

I understand most of Mr Blair's arguments and policies - except for those on education. A country IS its children - why make them pay for their education: the only test of value for University Entrance is ability to profit from the course. Ability to pay for it excludes the poor and those who do want a lifelong debt. Raise course standards and entry standards but drop the fees - invest in people.
Tanith Haycocks, Spain

Do they honestly believe they are doing a good job?
Nathan, England
The sycophantic behaviour at the Labour conference confirms how far 'New Labour' is from reality. Do they honestly believe they are doing a good job? Like many I am now taxed to the hilt and see no improvements in my quality of life. The 'middle classes' are the enemy of 'New Labour'. Their taxing regime only acts to stifle those who wish to better their lives.
Nathan, England

So Mr Blair will 'continue to tackle the possession of weapons of mass destruction by "repressive states"'. And of course the sale of the same to any such state that hasn't got round to buying them yet. You wait; it won't be long before we're selling arms to Iraq once more.
Matt, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (ex. UK)

Blair talks about getting away from "top down" politics. Then vows to ignore the conference vote on foundation hospitals and continue with his agenda. Just as he ignored the majority of opinion on Iraq and now on student top up fees. He has consistently enforced policy that the country obviously doesn't want. Does he know the meaning of phrase "top down"?
Lucy, Birmingham, UK

He will not be able to rebuild the trust of the people unless he changes his approach
Alice, UK
Would you trust someone who says he's listening but in reality cares little about what you say? People have a perception that Blair will act on policies that affect us all irrespective of what we think or say. He will not be able to rebuild the trust of the people unless he changes his approach and demonstrates respect for democracy, parliament, and his own party.
Alice, UK

All politicians have to realise that they are not trusted by the public. Most of them are career politicians and want to keep their jobs. Therefore they will say and do anything to keep there. History has shown us the best way for a PM to get re-elected is to have a good war. Unfortunately Blair's desperate attempt has blown up in his face.
Keith, England

Like almost all politicians Tony Blair believes that introducing more laws, taxing companies and individuals heavily and telling us that things are getting better is all they need to do when they are in power. When politicians put their efforts into making the existing laws, systems and organisations work the country will finally see some benefit from politics. Until then Tony Blair should be ashamed to be called a politician.
Mark, UK

Do you really want the Tories back again?
Evan Parsons, Australia
What is wrong with most of you people? Do you really want the Tories back again? Blair may have made some mistakes, especially over Iraq, but he is far superior to the alternative.
Evan Parsons, Australia

The main problem with Tony Blair is that Gordon Brown is the alternative.
Mike Grimes, UK

Well presented, good use of gestures, pauses, vocal modulation, eye contact. Try to avoid the forehead sweat. The content? No idea. Brain has learned to switch off when Blair speaks so as not to listen to his lies.
Helen, Hong Kong (ex UK)

A speech remarkable for its statements of the blindingly obvious and its intellectual dishonesty. So Blair will give us fairness, banish poverty and give opportunity to all. Quite how is seemingly irrelevant, as is the fact he has so far failed to achieve any improvement in our public services.
John McNeil, Scotland

A true leader would have a reverse gear. A true leader admits when they are wrong and knows how to undo the damage. Having no reverse gear means there is no flexibility, no different perspective, no get out, just throttle down revving into a brick wall. How short-sighted and pathetic could he possibly get? The man doesn't even realise what a stupid thing it was to say that he has no reverse gear. Utterly blind and utterly weak.
Patricia, UK

Would you buy a car with no reverse gear? It would make getting out of tight spaces pretty destructive.
Martin, UK

I look back at Margaret Thatcher and think actually, she wasn't that bad
Hilary W., UK
Congratulations to the delegate who attempted to make a citizen's arrest against Tony Blair. I would like to know on what grounds the police prevented him from making such a legal action and arrested him. He hadn't done a thing wrong. But then this is our country all over now isn't it: arrest anyone who speaks out, trample of freedom of speech, block demonstrations. I'm a conservative with a small c, I don't demonstrate usually, but even I am totally disgusted with Tony Blair. I look back at Margaret Thatcher and think actually, she wasn't that bad now.
Hilary W., UK

I thought it was a remarkable effort to disguise his shortcomings.
Matthew, UK

Words are words upon words.
It takes more to regain my trust than some well crafted speech. I'm surprised people are so easily silenced and satisfied. If this is the Labour Party, with members that fall so easily in line, than it has no future for me personally.
Ralf, UK

Fantastic speech! The greatest prime minister this country has had. I can't think of one thing that has become worse under his prime ministership and I think most people would agree even those who use Tory spin. God help this country if the Tories ever get back into power.
Gary, UK

This government really made a difference for the people: for the worse of course! Nobody thought that anybody could be a worse prime minister for the common man than Mrs Thatcher, but yes, indeed, Tony is worse. He's so right wing, the Conservative party must love him!
Midrac, Belgium

I'm afraid that yet another attempt to appear sincere and in touch with the nation has failed. The real problem for Mr Blair is that his determination to control all things and spin every situation to show himself and the Government in the best possible light has finally delivered a nation which simply does not believe a word he says. What is more worrying is the fact that his continued arrogance and disregard for the will of the people to prevail will simply result in a collapse in confidence in the mechanisms of government.
Paul, UK

He is the man of leadership, and today he has proved his true statesmanship by putting forth his programmes for your country. He has passed on economic front line but so far failed to contain terrorism. He has still to do his home work properly on containing terrorism. Wish him luck.
Cyrus S. Saiwalla, India

If the Prime Minister listened to his voters instead of his American advisers then we should never have gone to war with Iraq. The aftermath of Iraq will be with us for years and a terrible drain on the British economy and its armed forces.
RS, UK

Well done Tony! Some people will always moan - don't worry, they never vote anyway!
Jay, UK

You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.
M. Galbraith, Scotland

I feel that Tony Blair is a sincere and warm personality and that he means what he says in today's Party Conference Speech. Even if he has moved beyond socialism into a more intuitional, populist politics I still trust his judgement. And for me, this counts for a lot.
A, Scotland

Same old Blair, Same old spin, same old Labour.
Nick, UK

Goodbye, Tony, you are the weakest link
Malcolm, England
Well the guy was a Barrister wasn't he? Of course he's eloquent, but who can believe a word he says? Except for the bit about abolishing hereditary peers of course, to be replaced with his cronies mind you, not anyone democratically elected. Goodbye, Tony, you are the weakest link.
Malcolm, England

There is a bizarre and growing difference between what this government says and the reality of what it has inflicted on us. There is, after all, a parallel universe.
Adrian, UK

Going to war wasn't to protect us - it was a decision made last year and every event after was determined to ensure that whatever else - the US and Britain would invade Iraq. Blair is not sincere, but he does a good impression of sincerity. To think that he really cares about anything but retaining power is to be disingenuous at the least. Name one real achievement during the past seven years. Apart from four wars during his tenure, what has Blair done? Building the dome, dismantling the Lords and dividing Britain into three separately governed entities, does not count as achievements.
Crystal Dowell, UK

I now realise that the whole party has lost touch with the people
Sam Blakeman, UK
I thought that the PM had lost touch with the people. After the standing ovation at the end of his speech, I now realise that the whole party has lost touch with the people. Today is a sad day.
Sam Blakeman, UK

A 'rough patch' Tony? Seven thousand dead Iraqi civilians, no WMDs, foundation hospitals, massive waiting lists, tuition fees and a disappearing manufacturing workforce? A 'rough patch'? Let us know when things get really bad then.
Mark Butterfield, UK

Great speech. He always delivers in the face of criticism and that is what true leadership is about. I don't agree with every policy but I am in no doubt that Tony Blair remains the best person to lead this country.
Claire McCarthy, UK

Tony Blair is a leader. The speech was excellent, he pointed out the achievements, and there are many, that is what you do in conference. HE showed again why he was right about Iraq. Religious fanaticism, terrorism and extremism has to be stopped. Read your news everyday, and wake up everyone, he is standing up for you!
Shiv Kumar, London

There was a lot of soothing words but whenever he said anything with a possible impact I felt I disagreed. I will still support him with my vote because I don't want the Tories messing up Northern Ireland but I really think he is making a mess of everything else.
David McQuillan, England

Blair strongly leads the country he lives in. Trouble is he is living in cloud cuckoo land.
Stephen Curtis, UK

People talk of trust any Mr Blair telling lies. All Prime Ministers have always told lies, that's part of their job. They couldn't possibly tell the people the truth. Do people think Churchill always told us the truth during the Second World War, of course not? If any Prime Minister started telling the truth he or she wouldn't be in office for long. Stop being so naive.
Paul, UK

Blair has spent so much time strutting around the world stage that he has forgotten who elected him. Domestic issues matter most of all and no amount of deceit and spin can fool the voters.
Rob, UK

The road to better public services and more equitable access to them is clear and well defined. New Labour has defined that road. We cannot continue our journey down that road without outstanding political leadership. Tony Blair embodies the spiritual, intellectual and physical toughness required to get us to our destination. The United Kingdom has a great leader and a PM who does our great country proud!
Philip Leone, UK

What's the purpose of us giving our views. It goes nowhere. Just an example of the masses having no say in what happens in our country. However, there is no real alternative to Labour. Conservatives are archaic and lost in pre-historic era. Lib Dems - well, say no more. Blair is and will always be a lecturer in rhetoric.
Winston, UK

Mr Blair's charm may go down well with our cross Atlantic neighbours who seem to be able to judge a person's honesty after a half hour speech on TV. Here in the UK we judge a leader by what we actually see rather than what they say. Mr Blair has shown us nothing and has talked hot air. The Labour Party is a joke now especially it's notion that it represents the working class and aims for fairness when those are the conference are easily on 60k plus. Maybe they need to be taxed more!
James, UK

I think it was a brilliant speech by Tony
Joe Wilson, UK
There are a lot of sour grapes from the disenchanted Tories on this page, but from a Labour voter I think it was a brilliant speech by Tony. Here's to another term in power.
Joe Wilson, UK

Gren in Belgium, asks, "Where are the opposition? There is supposed to be an opposition ..." If you figure out how to get a half-decent opposition party please let us Americans know. We could use one here too!
Peter Nelson, USA

Where are the opposition? There is supposed to be an opposition ... isn't there?
Gren, Belgium

Mr Blair gave an honest and moving speech. I am in awe of his strength and determination. He has restored my faith in good honest Christian values, values which are all too lacking in this world. I will be voting for Labour and I have no doubt that Mr Blair is the best leader this country has had for many years.
Justin, Lancashire

When Blair said; "I can only go one way, I have not got a reverse gear." I was reminded of Margaret Thatcher, who Labour chided when she said "U turn if you want to but the Lady's not for turning". Blair's seems to be saying; "I can't admit to being wrong and retracing my steps as a pragmatic, listening leader might".
John Wilson, UK

Blair is a very good orator, but when it comes to substance he is sadly lacking. Why should I be inclined to believe him when nothing has seemingly changed since '97? As a new postgraduate all I see is a massive student debt, rising taxes, and an overly bureaucratic NHS. Trust you Mr Blair? Not likely!
Dave Pennington, Lincolnshire

Blair's legacy will be lies, spin and our alienation in international affairs
Andrew Geldart, UK
Atlee's legacy was the NHS, the welfare state, millions of new homes, the end to doctor's fees, and a better education for all - not just the elite. Blair's legacy will be lies, spin and our alienation in international affairs. Strong words - soft action. Time for someone new!
Andrew Geldart, UK

As a gay man I am thrilled I voted for Tony Blair. He has given us an equal age of consent, he has gotten rid of the evil Section 28 and he is proposing partnership rights for gay couples. Through Tony Blair's government I have started to feel valued as a full citizen of this country for the first time in my life and I will be eternally grateful to him for that.
Matt, London, UK

The reduction in unemployment has been achieved by all the non-jobs he and Brown have created. The money creating jobs have been and are continuing to be lost due to all the regulations and red tape inflicted on us all. As for pensioners' credit - a smoke screen. All savers are being penalised despite all Blair's and Brown's rhetoric.
K S Smith, Scotland

Tony Blair is the best leader we've had in a long time
John Hufferdine, UK
You don't know what you've got till it's gone ...... Tony Blair is the best leader we've had in a long time. Just look back to Margaret Thatcher if you want a real example of not listening.
John Hufferdine, UK

What a waste. The man that finally drove the Labour Party into office will now lead it back into the wilderness. He has lost the trust of the people and no amount of rousing rhetoric will save him.
Hamzah Dadabhai, UK

I'd like to believe in him, but how can I when he continues to stand by the war in Iraq after all substantial justifications have melted away? He talks of his worry about the trade in WMD, but that didn't stop the government from subsidising Europe's largest arms fair this month. And a leader of the Labour party should definitely not be counting a man like George W Bush among his friends.
Kirk Jackson, UK

This is surely unfair for the future
Bob
I think it is laughable that Tony Blair can say the number one priority for a fair future is education after the talk of top up fees. This is surely unfair for the future.
Bob

Stand up Mr Brown. Your country needs you!!
Nigel, UK

I'm watching the speech LIVE from New York. Blair is sincere. He is committed and convincing. He is doing his best to seek understanding and building faith and trust. Just for a moment place yourself in his shoes and see you could do better.
Patrick Gaines, NY, USA

I'm very dizzy, must be the spin.
Neil Small, Scotland

Good presentation, nice jokes, but what about the content? What do you REALLY believe in, Tony?
Anonymous, Kent, UK

This speech installs even more confidence into me about Tony Blair's quality
John Walker, UK
What a speaker! I feel proud to have him as a leader of my country. He is doing a good job whilst people are hounding him for a decision he made about war to protect them. This speech installs even more confidence into me about Tony Blair's quality.
John Walker, UK

The speech was just what one would expect from a mid-term PM. But ACTION and not rhetoric is still required to re-establish the faith of the electorate.
Andy, England

All I see is Tony Blair expecting to be applauded for systematically destroying everything that makes Britain a unique culture. And we, the British people, are supposed to be pleased about the destruction of our institutions, ancient culture, and political autonomy.
NK, UK

Get back to true values
Brian Jones, England
Same old story. What about the hidden unemployed, so-called students, and early retirees. Get back to true values and get manufacturing back in the UK. We cannot just be a country of service support companies, think of the youth.
Brian Jones, England

The real tragedy is that this Government will remain in power because of a lack of alternative, not because of any real support. The country needs a new party which is awake to the real concerns today. Immigration, public transport, congestion, tax, health, culture.
RP, Paris, France

Passion and eloquence mean nothing when facts and evidence do not back it up.
Cliff, England

No, the situation is irretrievable. The concept of "trust" isn't something that a politician can win back. It's like burning something and then thinking you can then unburn it. Politicians stand or fall on whether the public trusts them. In Tony Blair's case the answer is no.
Anonymous, London, UK

At least Tony Blair is accountable to the people, unlike the BBC.
Alan, UK

Say what you like Tony, the country is no longer listening
KJ, UK
Sorry? Does anyone actually feel obliged to spend even 5 minutes of their day listening to this man? In any other job such inadequacy would lead to instant dismissal. Say what you like Tony, the country is no longer listening.
KJ, UK

Absolutely full of no useful comments at all. I personally feel that I have been given no answers at all and feel no more satisfied with the leadership of our government than as I was before.
Alex, UK

I believe that Tony Blair attacks every issue with the same amount of sincerity/insincerity and it is impossible to tell the difference. I personally have no faith in him whatsoever.
Henryk Sadzik, England

Blair celebrated the end of hereditary peers and said that never again will people be allowed to make laws just because of their parents - so we can see a promise to end the Monarchy in the next manifesto? I might even think about voting for them if they did that.
Robert Steadman, Matlock, UK




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