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Prime Minister, Tony Blair
"The Conservatives are promising things without any notion of how they properly pay for them"
 real 28k

Shadow Social Security Secretary, David Willets
"We do not believe that as the economy grows, the government should be taking a higher share in taxes"
 real 28k

Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy
"I think the public will take a healthily sceptical view of what Labour is saying"
 real 28k

The BBC's Gavin Hewitt
"First day of the bus tour and not a critical voice has been encountered"
 real 56k

Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 20:41 GMT
Labour agrees manifesto
Tony Blair and Gordon Brown
Tony Blair heads Labour's first election news conference
Labour's manifesto has been agreed at a joint meeting of cabinet minsters and the party's ruling national executive committee.

Ministers describe the document, to be published next week, as "radical and forward looking".


A radical and forward looking manifesto which will show the dividing lines between Labour and the Conservatives

John Reid
Northern Ireland Secretary

In contrast to the wrangling of previous years, the manifesto appears to have been approved without controversy.

The meeting, attended by Tony Blair, follows the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto on Thursday morning.

Dividing lines

After the meeting at Labour's London headquarters, Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said Labour had produced a radical and forward looking manifesto.

It would show the clear dividing lines between it and the Conservatives.

But he refused to say whether the manifesto would renew Labour's pledge at the last election not to raise the basic rate of income tax.

Dr Reid said that in contrast to the Tory plans, Labour's manifesto was believable.

Economic record

Earlier, Tony Blair had put the government's record on the economy at the heart of his pitch to the electorate.

Speaking at Labour's first morning news conference of the election campaign, he said that hard won economic stability under Labour underlined the "fundamental choice" faced by voters.

He insisted that Britain was far stronger than when Labour came to office.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown attacked Tory plans
And he gave short shrift to Tory plans to cut tax on fuel, saying the they were unaffordable without slashing public spending or raising debt.

Economic credibility was the single most important requirement for government, continued Mr Blair.

"In the past no-one doubted our compassion and our passion, indeed, for social justice.

"But some doubted our ability to run the economy, to be put in charge of peoples money, their jobs, their livelihoods.

"This has changed ... the Labour party enters this election as the party of economic stability and competence."

Hard choices

Mr Blair acknowledged that the first two years of tough spending plans had meant hard choices over public expenditure.

But he insisted that this had laid the foundations for current economic stability.

The lowest interest rates for 35 years had helped hard-working families with their mortgages.


If the Tories have the economy wrong, they can't get anything else right

Tony Blair

In the 1980s, the Tories thought they could rely on "some claim to economic stability", he argued.

"The last recession lost it for them.

"Nothing they have done since has got it back."

But shadow chancellor Michael Portillo attacked Labour's record in government, branding its spending plans as "unsustainable".

"Another Labour government would imply an unsustainable commitment to government spending which could only be matched by higher taxes," he said.

But Chancellor Gordon Brown retaliated - saying that Tory plans were "irresponsible" and would put Britain's economic stability at risk.

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