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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 12:31 GMT
Morgan predicts end to New Labour
Rhodri Morgan and Venus de Milo statue composite
Mr Morgan compared New Labour to the Venus de Milo statue
First Minister Rhodri Morgan has predicted the end of New Labour in a speech in Swansea.

He praised New Labour as the most successful electoral project in Labour's history but warned it was now showing its age.

The comments indicated Mr Morgan believes New Labour may cease to exist once Tony Blair leaves office.

Mr Morgan also called for "21st Century socialism" to reconnect the party with voters.

In the speech, at the city's Brangwyn Hall, Mr Morgan said New Labour was a product of its time, 1994 to 2007 - Tony Blair's time as Labour leader.

New Labour strikes me a little bit like the Venus de Milo
Rhodri Morgan

He said: "New Labour has been, by some distance, the most successful electoral project in the history of the party.

"It has reached parts that other Labour programmes and projects and political leaders have not been able to reach, at least never on a sustained basis.

"But like any project, it was the product of its own time - 1994 to 2007 - that's the period, and the particular circumstances that caused it to come into being.

"Time moves on and circumstances change. So today, New Labour strikes me a little bit like the Venus de Milo - you have to gawp with admiration at its quality and brilliance, but it is indisputably incomplete and beginning to show more than a few signs of its age."

The speech comes six months before May's Welsh assembly elections.

Mr Morgan also insisted the assembly government is showing a new willingness to use 21st century technology, such as the internet and mobile phones to ensure people are "at the heart of decision-making".

'Anti-Labour sentiment'

Nick Bourne, leader of the assembly Conservatives, said: "Rhodri Morgan is trying to sail on clear red water in a rapidly-sinking Labour ship.

"He knows that it doesn't matter whether it's New Labour, Old Labour, or any other form of Labour - his party faces being submerged in a tide of anti-Labour sentiment next May."

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson added: "How can Rhodri Morgan say that New Labour's time is up when he is a cheerleader for one of the creators of New Labour - Gordon Brown?

"To claim New Labour is dead is as believable as a Labour election promise."

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Mike German said: "Rhodri Morgan's latest action in project 'cling to power' is a clear attempt to distance himself from the Labour Party and the Blair legacy.

"We have seen this tactic before. In Blaenau Gwent, Labour's candidates couldn't run far enough or fast enough away from London Labour policies."




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