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Tuesday, 5 February, 2002, 12:13 GMT
Number 10 denies 'wreckers' apology
Tony Blair
Blair's public services attack target remains disputed
Downing Street has denied apologising to TUC general secretary John Monks over Tony Blair's speech on public services.

The rebuttal follow reports that Lady Morgan, director of political and government relations at Number 10, rang Mr Monks on Monday as the row over the speech continued.


The wreckers are the Railtracks, the Enrons and those who believe that September 11 was a good day to bury bad news

Bill Morris
TGWU leader
Tony Blair's official spokesman said it would not be surprising if Lady Morgan had spoken to Mr Monks, who has described the prime minister's words as "juvenile".

But the spokesman continued: "There was no apology".

The Guardian newspaper reported that the Labour peer had told Mr Monks the "wreckers" tag was not aimed at the trade unions.

'Speech over shorthand'

Mr Blair's spokesman said he would not go into the details of conversations held by Lady Morgan, who he said often spoke to senior politicians and unions.

But he urged people to look at what was said in Mr Blair's speech rather than how it had been "shorthanded".

TUC general secretary John Monks
Monks is said to have received an apology from Downing Street
Opposition politicians have blamed government spin doctors for indicating the "wreckers" accusation was directed at trade unions, as well as the Conservatives.

The term "wreckers" was first used at last weekend's spring Labour conference by Transport Secretary Stephen Byers.

More union anger has apparently been sparked by reports that his controversial spin doctor, Jo Moore, allegedly indicated the trade unions were among the "wreckers".

The prime minister's spokesman did not comment when asked whether that claim was true.

'Real wreckers'

But Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union has made a veiled reference to Ms Moore's possible involvement in the dispute.

"The wreckers are the Railtracks, the Enrons and those who believe that 11 September was a good day to bury bad news," said Mr Morris.

As the row begun last weekend rolls on, one of Britain's biggest unions, the GMB, is attacking the prime minister in a newspaper advertisements.

The GMB advert depicts a nurse holding a baby and asks: "Is she one of the 'wreckers', Tony?"

A recent survey for the GMB showed 89% of public service workers opposed the government's policy "to hand control of public services to the private sector".

Downing Street said on Monday the "wreckers" were those who opposed to investment and reform.

Dividing lines

Labour Party chairman Charles Clarke also moved to calm the row, saying the Conservatives were the real target of the accusation.

In a statement, Mr Clarke said: "When the prime minister spoke of wreckers at the weekend, he was setting out those dividing lines between a Labour party committed to investment and reform or a Tory party committed to massive cuts in public spending as part of their policy of reducing public spending to 35% of GDP."

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has rejected the claim that his party are opposed to investment or reform, saying the prime minister is making "puerile" accusations.

Mr Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme on Monday he was saddened by Mr Blair's speech, which had not helped the public services debate at all.

"He's been in power five years, it seems stupid to go down the road of the blame game when in reality it's the government's record that is in question," he continued.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nick Robinson
"Tony Blair always promised radical things for his second term"
Home Secretary David Blunkett
"If we are going to move forward we need to remember those early 80s"
TGWU's Bill Morris
"There are plenty of wreckers out there"

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05 Feb 02 | UK Politics
04 Feb 02 | UK Politics
04 Feb 02 | UK Politics
03 Feb 02 | UK Politics
03 Feb 02 | UK Politics
02 Feb 02 | UK Politics
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