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Wednesday, September 29, 1999 Published at 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK

UK Politics

Class war alive and kicking

Tony Booth: "Androids are planning world domination"

Tony Blair's father-in-law launched a fierce attack on New Labour at a conference fringe meeting on Tuesday night.

Tony Booth, the actor father of the prime minister's wife, Cherie, has only rarely publicly voiced his views on Labour policy since his son-in-law became the party's leader.

But in Bournemouth he attacked the "androids" who run Labour from its Millbank headquarters in London, and strongly backed class politics - in contrast to his son-in-law's insistence that it was dead.

Speaking at the regular conference rally organised by the left-wing paper Tribune, Mr Booth asked: "What is going on at Millbank?

Tony Booth: "Where do these androids come from?"
"Where do these androids come from?

"I think their master plan is to divert us with a spurious debate about old and New Labour so they can fulfil their master plan of world domination."

Tony Booth explains his comments
Mr Booth's other daughter, Lauren, who has established herself as a media pundit since Labour came to power, watched as the actor continued his theatrical protest.

Mr Booth went on to challenge the "assumption" Chancellor Gordon Brown would succeed Mr Blair as the next Labour leader.

"Where did the assumption that Gordon Brown would be the next leader of the Labour Party come from?" he said.

[ image: Tony and Cherie Blair after the prime minister's own speech to the Labour conference]
Tony and Cherie Blair after the prime minister's own speech to the Labour conference
"Hang on a minute, there is one small detail that has been overlooked. The leadership of our party is not in anyone's gift - not the prime minister, not the chancellor, not the prime minister's spin doctors and not even Millbank.

"In this party we have one member, one vote."

His final target was the House of Lords and particularly its hereditary peers.

But again he refused to spare the government his wrath, implying it might go soft in its plans for constitutional reform.

Mr Booth called for the government to back an elected second chamber with "no ifs, ands or buts".

"They have all got to go. Peers, life peers, the bishops and the lord chancellor," he said.

'Snouts in the trough'

He also warned against politicians getting too close to big business, and strongly criticised the suggestion that trade unions and bosses should work more closely together.

"The last thing we should be prepared to tolerate are political institutions made up of representatives with their snouts in the business trough.

"And that is why the whole idea of the trade unions cosying up to employers is either astonishingly naive or deeply cynical."

And in contrast to his son-in-law's insistence during his own speech earlier that day to the Labour conference, Mr Booth made clear that as far as he was concerned class politics was alive and kicking.

"Have we learnt nothing from history? We know that capitalism has no interest in protecting the rights of workers - there's no profit in that."

"How can we include the poor, the dispossessed, those feeling alienated - those we are sworn to protect - when our government prevaricates over root and branch reform of the House of Lords?

"When a Labour government can seriously suggest that the trade unions can benefit from close ties to business? Give us a break."

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