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Wednesday, September 29, 1999 Published at 20:25 GMT 21:25 UK

UK Politics

Blair guilty of arrogance say Tories

Tony Blair: His speech was applauded by the unions but criticised by Tories

The Conservatives have accused the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of displaying "hypocrisy" in his keynote speech to the Labour Party conference.

Conservative Party Chairman, Michael Ancram, said Mr Blair was guilty of overwhelming arrogance.

[ image: Michael Ancram:
Michael Ancram: "A classic example of Labour hypocrisy"
Mr Ancram said: "Tony Blair's speech was a classic example of Labour hypocrisy.

"It was the speech of a man whose guiding principle in politics is to say one thing and do another."

Mr Ancram continued: "In his speech last year, Tony Blair promised that 1999 would be the year when Labour delivered.

"Today, Tony Blair confessed that Labour are 'nothing like halfway towards our goals'.

"His arrogance is so overwhelming that he even uses the fact of his government's failure to deliver so far as his pitch for a second term.

"No wonder people feel let down. So much for Tony Blair's solemn pledges, his contracts and his vows."

But John Edmonds, the leader of the GMB union, described the prime minister's address as "a most extraordinary speech".

The prime minister had achieved "the treble" by reaching out to the country, embracing the party and demolishing the Tories.

Missionary zeal

Mr Edmonds said: "There was real missionary zeal there. It was about what needs to be done rather than what has already been achieved.

"I thought I heard a hint of socialism as well as a commitment to equality of opportunity and ending of the class war.

"It was an antidote to apathy and was the sort of speech that will encourage people to make things happen."

[ image: Roger Lyons:
Roger Lyons: "A radical speech"
Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, said it was one of the best speeches Mr Blair had made and would silence any critics of the government.

Roger Lyons, general secretary of the Manufacturing Science and Finance union, said the prime minister was "oozing with confidence".

Radical call to arms

Mr Lyons said: "It was a radical speech and a call to arms for the next general election.

"The prime minister had clearly identified goals for the future. We can now go on united to defeat the Tories and win a historic second term for Labour."

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, said Mr Blair's speech was more positive towards public service.

"There was more praise than blame for teachers, which I warmly welcome, and a firm commitment that, if the economy continues doing well, there will be more money to spend on schools and the health service."

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