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Thursday, 13 April, 2000, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
Blair launches Labour election campaign
Tony Blair
Tony Blair: "Much yet to be done"
Labour has launched its campaign for next month's local elections by attacking Tory policy for the health service.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the Conservatives would force patients to go outside the NHS for treatment.

And he said that could leave a pensioner couple facing a bill of up to 87 a week for private medical insurance.

Speaking in Milton Keynes, Mr Blair said the Tory plans would force people outside the NHS because "their irresponsible position on tax and spending gives them no alternative".

He said it was also something favoured by the Conservative Party's right-wing, adding: "And their leadership is too weak to resist right wing pressure."

'Trojan horse'

Mr Blair said a Tory government would mean people needing treatment would have to choose between costly medical insurance or significant one-off payments for private operations.

He accused the Conservatives of developing a health policy which amounted to a "Trojan horse for privatisation".

He said: "These elections are about who people trust to deliver the policies that will deliver a stronger economy and better public services."

Mr Blair argued that New Labour had achieved much in government, but said there was much yet to be done - and "a lot to lose from voting Tory".

'Totally false'

He said: "The dividing lines are clear; economic stability or Tory boom and bust, more money for hospitals or a Tory tax on the elderly, more jobs or more Tory unemployment, a pay rise for the low paid or a Tory pay cut, local councils delivering for hard working families or Tory councils helping the privileged few."

Conservative leader William Hague said Labour's accusation that the Tories planned to force patients to look outside the NHS for treatment were "totally false".

He said: "It is Tony Blair and his mismanagement of the health service who is forcing some people to have private operations due to delays and long waiting lists.

"I think it will do the Labour Party great damage in the run-up to these elections if they think they can fight it on fiction rather than what is actually happening in the country.

""These wild accusations will not succeed in covering up Mr Blair's abysmal failure."

See also:

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