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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 16:14 GMT
Who are the wreckers?
Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking in Cardiff
Tony Blair refused to name the wreckers
Nick Assinder

Tony Blair has branded people opposed to his public service reform as "wreckers", but has been reluctant to name names.

His spokesman has insisted he was talking about the Tories and anyone opposed to investment or reform in the services.

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith tops the hit list
Many union leaders are, however, infuriated that government spin doctors made it plain the prime minister was also talking about them.

And suggestions he was only talking about conservatives - both large and small c varieties - has not cooled their anger.

Thanks to his spin doctors and even some of his ministers, it is possible to get an idea of who exactly the government really believes is standing in its way.

Blacklist

Obviously the Tory party heads the list. Despite the fact that Iain Duncan Smith has insisted his top priority ahead of tax cuts would be improvement of the public services, the prime minister accuses him of planning to privatise them.

Next on the blacklist, according to Home Secretary David Blunkett, are the vested interests of the Metropolitan police federation and the prison officers' union.

GMB leader John Edmonds
Edmonds opposes private cash
Then, whatever Tony Blair says, comes certain unions and union leaders.

The prime minister has made it crystal clear he is furious with the RMT and its leader Vernon Hince for striking over pay.

And his deputy John Prescott was happy to attack GMB leader John Edmonds, who has been one of the most vocal critics of the proposals claiming they could become Labour's poll tax.

Hard left

Spin doctors have also targeted Unisons' Dave Prentis and even TUC general secretary John Monks.

The prime minister also referred to those on the "far left" who, he claimed, ended up agreeing with the Tories in their attacks on government policy.

This displayed a previously unnoticed concern that the old hard left activists were once again exerting an influence - although it is difficult to see where.

Finally, and inevitably, it is sections of the media which, according to the prime minister and his spokesmen, keep stirring up trouble by interpreting his remarks in a way he did not intend.


PM Tony Blair has attacked the wreckers, but who might they be?E-cyclopedia
Who, what and where are the "wreckers"?
See also:

04 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Union fury at Blair warning
03 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Blair speech: Key quotes
02 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Ringside view of union fightback
04 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Blunkett unveils prisons rethink
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