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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Maturity, not militarism, please Tony
Scarlett MccGwire

By Scarlett MccGwire, writer and broadcaster

The spectre of impending war will stalk the Labour Party conference.

Not merely the obvious effects of a truncated week, mashed agenda and debilitating security: It will also infiltrate most speeches, however domestic the subject, and be present at every fringe meeting.

Scarlett MccGwire
Writer and broadcaster Scarlett MccGwire is a former media adviser to the Labour Party
There will be anti-war protesters outside and inside there will be much talk from the top about decisiveness and courage.

But the real courage is needed to not attack a country where five million people are starving and those that can are running to the border, or to send British soldiers to their deaths fighting a War against Terrorism that appears to have as much chance of succeeding as the War against Drugs.

The real courage is to show the difference between a Labour government and the knee-jerk militarism of the Conservatives.

Unemotional thinking required

We know that if they were in government the Tories would be shoulder to shoulder with George Bush against any chosen target.


It is not cowardice to caution against action, but courage

Tony Blair must show the unemotional strategic thinking that comes far easier to a country which has not been under direct attack.

No response can be carried out to satisfy a public wish for revenge or prove that if hit we can hit back harder.

This must be about long-term alliance building, about causes as much as effects. It is not cowardice to caution against action, but courage.

We have already endured decades of the consequences of short-term blinkered foreign policy from the industrialised nations.


The policy of my enemy's enemy is my friend has not only built up Osama Bin Laden, the Taleban and Saddam Hussein but also brought chaos to central America

The policy of my enemy's enemy is my friend has not only built up Osama Bin Laden, the Taleban and Saddam Hussein but also brought chaos to central America.

While Robin Cook's heralded ethical foreign policy became a hostage to fortune, it was the correct approach.

Blair must show maturity

The election of Iain Duncan Smith gives the government time to plan for the long term: we need to hear a maturity reflected in the prime minister's speech to conference.

However, the domination of foreign policy should leave no room for complacency on the home front. What has Labour done since winning the election in June?


It seems ironic that a government whose main raison d'Ítre from the day it took office was to win a second term now has little idea of what to do with it apart from stay there

The ensuing months have been a synthetic row about privatising public services which appears to be rooted in Tony Blair's prejudices rather than having any policy ramifications.

It seems ironic that a government whose main raison d'Ítre from the day it took office was to win a second term now has little idea of what to do with it apart from stay there.

Playing 'world leader'

This government has been given one more chance to improve public services, and by doing so prove that it respects the people who voted it into power.

Radical, centralised ideas may no longer work; perhaps the government has learnt that step-changes from a local level and building on best practice are better answers. We no longer want to hear about initiatives, only outcomes.

Tony Blair could have a tough conference if he chooses to play world leader rather than respecting the people who worked to give him his second term.

The assumption that the disaffected have nowhere else to go leads to arrogance.

In 1985 Neil Kinnock spoke over conference's heads to the wider television audience to assure them that he was changing the Labour Party.

It is now time for Tony Blair to take his party with him as he addresses the nation.

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