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Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Blair's speech: Did the prime minister deliver?
There was a standing ovation at the Labour Party Conference after UK Prime Minister Tony Blair gave one of the most critical speeches of his career.
After weeks of pension rows, fuel protests and flagging opinion polls, Mr Blair told delegates in Brighton that he had a second-term vision "worth fighting for", and asked for the nation's trust.
"I'm listening, I'm here and I will act" he said. The prime minister went on to defend Labour's progress saying they were delivering on the economy, jobs, schools and hospitals.
He seemed to have no problem winning the hearts in the conference hall, but what do you make of Tony Blair's speech? Has he managed to get the nation on side? Send us your views.
Here's what you had to say:
Philip S. Hall, UK
I think Tony should listen to the people. If he doesn't Hague will be in power next year and he will only have himself to blame.
As a non-supporter of New Labour, I welcome the admission that the next election will be fought on tax and spend policies. Does Blair not remember that a big factor in his election last time was that he persuaded middle England that he was not a tax and spend man?
When will people see that pouring more money into failing public services is just the same as pouring it into the Dome? Both are ill conceived, incompetently managed and fail to deliver.
As a lifelong Labour supporter I have been
disappointed by the Blair administration. There
are many areas on which it could do better.
However, Blair has done considerably more harm
than good and there is no better alternative
on the horizon. He has to do more than listen
to the very real concerns over fuel prices, he
How can Tony Blair claim to be listening to the people when he cannot even listen to the members of the Labour party at their own conference? Does he not realise that it is the electorate that gave him the job as a voice for them?
I am a married man (no more tax allowance) with a mortgage (no more MIRAS) who has to drive to work (no public transport) who used to smoke (can't afford to) with no children (no families tax credit for me) who works for a company soon to be closed by new labour. Somehow I don't think Tony Blair is listening to me!
Look at the Government's score card: The lowest Unemployment in Europe. The lowest Inflation in Europe. Strong, consistent economic growth. Strengthened credibility in the world.
Toby Milward, England
Every time I get annoyed with Blair and the Labour party. I simply look at the options available and realise that there is no viable alternative. That is the biggest crime in contemporary politics, not the Dome of Fuel Tax.
Nice performance Tony. I'm
surprised Cherie didn't burst into
tears to complete the scene,
perhaps she's saving that for next
year's Brit awards.
Gerry O'Brien, Northern Ireland
Mr Blair was honest about his performance, and explained why he should not be re-elected.
"But what a dismal choice we face at the next election - Blair or Hague. "
rubbish. The only party worth voting for is neither New Labour nor Tory. It's the Liberal Democrats.
Chris Klein, UK
I believe in restoring the link for pensioners, but does anyone seriously think that the Conservatives will this if returned to power? They are the party that broke the link in the first place. The next Conservative government will see the end of the state pension. Voters beware.
I am now paying more tax and duty on fuel but I've just been told that I will have to wait 5-6 months for treatment for a heart condition on the NHS. New Labour is taking our money NOW but isn't working NOW and nothing in the speech makes me believe that it will be working in the future!
Give the Labour Party a chance. They have not had as much time in office as the Tories but have made a good start in trying to rebalance some of the inequalities that have existed for years. Tony Blair has said they are not perfect, but they are genuine in attempting to create a new NHS, schools etc. There has to be a price to pay for improving these facilities and if it has to be petrol rather than direct tax, so be it. Give the Labour Party another term so they can consolidate the improvements already made.
With every speech he makes Blair comes over as more arrogant, more condescending and more out of touch - so perhaps he is bringing honesty back into British politics after all!
My God, what a cynical lot we have become.
I found the PM's speech sincere and moving.
I respect him for his commitment not to make an electoral issue out of asylum seekers.
Give the guy a break and let's all resolve to be just a little less cynical about the good intentions of others.
Patrick Seurre, UK
The fuel tax is among the most regressive. It hits low income groups hard in that it affects the price of everything they buy - the wealthier section of society barely notices. What is needed is a more aggressive income tax scale aimed at the upper income brackets and business, a reduction in fuel tax and an increase in pension funding.
Why do people assume that more public spending equals better services?
People should stop whinging and whining. The truth of the matter is this; if you want better public services, higher pensions, a better NHS, you have to pay more tax. It's as simple as that. That's the choice! It's not a matter of politics it's a matter of logic. Politics is secondary. I'm not a traditional Labour voter but I know that much is true! We can't have our cake and eat it but many people in the UK want it just that way! We've become a nanny state where we seem to expect to be looked after. People need to do a lot of soul searching before they make decisions about the next election!
To those people who have been criticising Tony Blair, which bits don't you like? Is it the fact that Britain has the lowest inflation in Europe, unemployment has gone below 1 million for the first time in three decades, wealth has been redistributed from the richest to the poorest sections of society, or is it the simple fact that Labour not only dared to win an election but can govern rather well. Britain was becoming a nasty, selfish society during 18 long years of Conservative rule but I support this Labour government because they believe in hope over fear and reason over bigotry.
Tony Blair is like Nero playing the lyre whilst Rome burns.
Tony has stuck his fingers up at the motorist. Those of us on middle incomes will continue to pay some of the highest taxes in the world with precious little improvements visible on any public service. I say the Labour party has completely lost the plot with the normal working family, it's going to be a long winter!
Blair's speech was great. He acknowledged mistakes such as the Dome and pensions, but didn't give in to the fuel protests bullies. We are a pluralist society and all competing interests should use the ballet box to acknowledge dissent. Personally I don't think petrol is high enough. Road users should pay more pollution tax
I have heard the same rhetoric for 40 years from Labour and even the Conservatives. It hasn't worked for forty years and it won't work now.
Until we get to grips with the fact that solutions are not in the hands of government but in the hands of individual citizens, nothing will change. The best any government - Labour or Conservative - can do is to reduce their interference in people's lives to an absolute minimum and let adults make their own decisions.
I think that the Prime Minister's speech was clear and honest. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on; right now, New Labour are miles ahead of the opposition. I didn't agree with everything that he said, but he delivered it in a no-nonsense way.
I want lower fuel duty, lower taxes, better public transport, improved hospitals and a world-class education system.
Oh and also, can I have the moon on a stick as well please?
Well of course Tony Blair got a standing ovation, after all it was the Labour Party Conference. This Government got elected on lies last term, so why not try the same tactics this time? He also talked about himself being a unifier. Not much evidence of that in Scottish parliament and Welsh assembly. We now have a chance to get President Blair out of office, so that we may look back in time with the same views of Labour as we have done before. Labour, new Labour lies!
Paul R, UK
Why has Mr Blair not taken up ballooning? With so much hot air he could become world champion. This man has proved himself to be out of touch, deceitful, inept and an utter joke.
The message from the speech is clear to me. Vote Labour for higher taxes, but better public services, or vote Tory for lower taxes, but poorer public services. It is up to us to decide!
When I chasten my children for doing something wrong they
talk to me in the way that Tony Blair does. I am sorry but I
listening now. As soon as your back is turned they go ahead and do the
same again. Tony has no intention of listening to his core voters because
New Labour is really Old Labour where they ignored the will of the people
and maybe he requires 19 more years in the political wilderness to
find out that the British electorate are fed up of being treated like idiots.
Jose Fernandez, Netherlands
'New Labour'. Ha. It's the same old Labour with a new mac and new cloth cap. They really haven't a clue as to what makes a nation tick.
Same old words, same old tactics. Divert the attention from the most pressing of problems, i.e. fuel tax, etc. and they will go away of their own accord. Raise the dust clouds.
Think again. Blair doesn't see his future as a political leader, but as an egotistical megalomaniac. He must be in charge, what he says is right and best we don't forget it!
"I'm listening, I'm here and I will act" T BLAIR
In other words 'I have no plan or vision for the future to offer, so please let me know what to do, answers on a postcard.'
Blair is a true man of the post-political times, devoid of any ideology, conviction and leadership. Instead there's only bumbling crisis management on a weekly basis, a government that is only good at squeaking sound bites and becoming less and less accountable for its actions and in-actions.
New Labour has increased taxes at a phenomenal rate yet nothing is getting better. Crime is at an all time high, the NHS is worse than ever and 100,000 more people have slipped into poverty. Tony Blair is no more than a waffler.
As a pensioner I have paid for my State pension since 1948. I don't want charity, TV licence, fuel allowance or any means testing. I just want what I paid for what I thought I had been promised.
Tony Blair has set out his vision for the next term.
He has rightly enforced the view of the Government that Boom and Bust are not options in a proper economy. He has admitted that Labour (New) has to listen and has equated, quite rightly, that knee jerk reactions to instant protest will not help the long term economy of the country.
Give the man a chance!
Our present Prime minister is a man of great sincerity.
He admits to mistakes but is prepared to re-affirm his principles and put his future in the hands of the British electorate.
Let us hope that the electorate are not foolishness enough to return a dubious Conservative government.
Those who moan should really stop and think back to that timeż a time when none of us could wait for the election to come, and the opportunity to tell the Conservatives what we thought of them. William Hague has certainly not reformed them in any meaningful respect .. only taken the party further to the right in the desperate attempt to win votes from nasty and selfish people.
Christine Burns, UK
Sound economy, strong leader, lowest unemployment for years. Anything wrong with this picture? Oh yes, lots of unhappy cabbies and fox hunters - ahhh didums. Blair is a capable PM with a strong team behind him, he's far and away the best leader we've had for years (from a pretty slim field admittedly - and that includes Maggie). Simply put, do you to see little Billy Hague trying to act tough on the world stage?
I seem to recall Tony Blair making the point that "confidence" and not "cynicism" is what is required. He DOES know best what is required to run this country effectively. Let us not forget just how bad things were under the previous government! So much has improved since three years ago. I agree that Blair wants a second term - of course he does - he has a very positive and encouraging vision for this nation in the 21st century and wants to be able to make it a reality. Personally I have every faith in his abilities.
T. Scaife, UK
There are lots of ways to say this and they all amount to the same thing, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. Through my entire life all I've ever seen is the screws turned tighter and tighter while various politicians promise that everything will be different if we just put them in power. Meanwhile they accept well paid jobs with big business and act just like the last lot. So will this piece of rhetoric be different from all the others? I seriously doubt it.
It is unlikely that anybody will listen to Blair because he is speaking the unpopular truth. If you want decent services in this country, you have to pay for them - and it may take years for the money to take effect. Those who whinge about fuel prices in this country should get their priorities straight.
A standing ovation? Never! Blair's speech was full of the usual warm words. He wants a second term for himself above all else - he'll probably get it too. But what a dismal choice we face at the next election - Blair or Hague.
I would sum up the speech as; "I am listening...but I still know best!!"
When a politician has a vision for how your life is to be led and requests that you trust him about it, steer well clear. That's my advice.
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