Where did it go wrong for you?


Book Reviewer
As demonstrated by RFUK's recent post "Tony Blair - Read this.." opinion of our PM is at present not good...
Was this always the case among the forces? When did the penny drop and you think "this guys a wnaker!"
Was it the Iraq invasion and opening of a second front in AFG that did it? The burial of bad news? cutbacks in the forces? Spin?
Or has he always been a giant steaming turd?
He was still reasonably popular after Kosovo.
A mixture of civil liberties as per Sven, his lack of concern for environmental issues and, the icing on the turd, his lack of criticism of Israel's attack on Lebanon last summer.
I probably started to really hate him when he started dismantling centuries of "What constitutes Britishness" ... fair play, honesty and his utter ignorance of what make the military machine tick are supplementary issues.

As a man with so few honest principles, we should all expect him to give the military a bad time. But to dismantle the Nation's institutions, top to bottom, as if he was running ARRSE island playing with people with no feelings ... that makes me vomit.

My country was England ... now funding the Scots and the Welsh. England has lost more than you will wish to read ... all for the sake of his "vision". I did not leave England [a very nice part of it, BTW] for tax reasons. I left because Bliar had fu**ed up England, the United Kingdom and the people, and I could bear no more. I bet Her Majesty will sleep easier when he's gone, because I'm damned sure she's on the list somewhere.

Bliar ... take yourself away to another country where your megalomania will fit in better. Bid to succeed Mugabe ... no, that country's been f***ed up already. USA, then? Run against Hilary as the other utterly insincere candidate? Or Cuba? There's a vacancy coming up for a guy with white teeth!
The first time I heard the word 'Spin' and Alistair Campbell, when I heard of Feng Shui at 10 Downing Street, and Iraq, and funding, the WMD in 45 minutes, spin, Hutton, the IRA, Gays . . . etc, etc, etc.
Disbanding 5th Airborne (rid of the Pegasus) was one of the first major things he did to the Forces that I think caused a lot of unrest and dislike amongst some!!
Umm where to begin.......the suppresion of our history being taught in schools, the lack of control of our borders meaning we now have no idea who is entering our country , the massaging of asylum figures by just granting those here leave to remain even though some are war criminals from the Balkans/Rwanda/Afg or just plain spongers, the massive tax burden we now endure , the list just seems to go on & on
PartTimePongo said:
He was still reasonably popular after Kosovo.
Not in Serbia he wasn't. But then again, you could argue Serb opinion was unreasonable. I'd prefer this statement:

He was reasonably popular in Kosovo.

When he insisted on a live broadcast (on CNN at least) to make a speech on the death of King Hussein of Jordan, whereas former Presidents offices/political dignitaries(Kissinger, Thatcher, Kohl etc) who had dealt with Hussein over the years managed to express themselves with the traditional telegram/diplomatic message along with the White House, UN, Kremlin.....
I went from total disinterest to wondering who this jumped up toe-rag actually was and hating him within 30 seconds of seeing him on the screen.


Book Reviewer
I have to admit, i supported the Sierra Leone intervention whole heartedly. I was just irritated by allegations of mission creep from the tories and the like. I failed to see what was wrong with saving civilians from an utterly evil "force" such as the RUF/West Side boys.
When did the penny drop and you think "this guys a wnaker!"
When I read the 1997 manifesto: Just read this and if you haven't worked yourself up into a screaming frenzy by the end of it you must be a Liebour member:

Here are the top ten pledges from 1997, followed by the full manifesto:
1 Education will be our number one priority, and we will increase the share of national income spent on education as we decrease it on the bills of economic and social failure

2 There will be no increase in the basic or top rates of income tax

3 We will provide stable economic growth with low inflation, and promote dynamic and competitive business and industry at home and abroad

4 We will get 250,000 young unemployed off benefit and into work

5 We will rebuild the NHS, reducing spending on administration and increasing spending on patient care

6 We will be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, and halve the time it takes persistent juvenile offenders to come to court

7 We will help build strong families and strong communities, and lay the foundations of a modern welfare state in pensions and community care

8 We will safeguard our environment, and develop an integrated transport policy to fight congestion and pollution

9 We will clean up politics, decentralise political power throughout the United Kingdom and put the funding of political parties on a proper and accountable basis

10 We will give Britain the leadership in Europe which Britain and Europe need
new Labour because Britain deserves better
Britain will be better with new Labour

'Our case is simple: that Britain can and must be better'

'The vision is one of national renewal, a country with drive, purpose and energy'

'In each area of policy a new and distinctive approach has been mapped out, one that differs from the old left and the Conservative right. This is why new Labour is new'

'New Labour is a party of ideas and ideals but not of outdated ideology. What counts is what works. The objectives are radical. The means will be modern'

' This is our contract with the people'

I believe in Britain. It is a great country with a great history. The British people are a great people. But I believe Britain can and must be better: better schools, better hospitals, better ways of tackling crime, of building a modern welfare state, of equipping ourselves for a new world economy.

I want a Britain that is one nation, with shared values and purpose, where merit comes before privilege, run for the many not the few, strong and sure of itself at home and abroad.

I want a Britain that does not shuffle into the new millennium afraid of the future, but strides into it with confidence.

I want to renew our country's faith in the ability of its government and politics to deliver this new Britain. I want to do it by making a limited set of important promises and achieving them. This is the purpose of the bond of trust I set out at the end of this introduction, in which ten specific commitments are put before you. Hold us to them. They are our covenant with you.

I want to renew faith in politics by being honest about the last 18 years. Some things the Conservatives got right. We will not change them. It is where they got things wrong that we will make change. We have no intention or desire to replace one set of dogmas by another.

I want to renew faith in politics through a government that will govern in the interest of the many, the broad majority of people who work hard, play by the rules, pay their dues and feel let down by a political system that gives the breaks to the few, to an elite at the top increasingly out of touch with the rest of us.

And I want, above all, to govern in a way that brings our country together, that unites our nation in facing the tough and dangerous challenges of the new economy and changed society in which we must live. I want a Britain which we all feel part of, in whose future we all have a stake, in which what I want for my own children I want for yours.

A new politics
The reason for having created new Labour is to meet the challenges of a different world. The millennium symbolises a new era opening up for Britain. I am confident about our future prosperity, even optimistic, if we have the courage to change and use it to build a better Britain.

To accomplish this means more than just a change of government. Our aim is no less than to set British political life on a new course for the future.

People are cynical about politics and distrustful of political promises. That is hardly surprising. There have been few more gross breaches of faith than when the Conservatives under Mr Major promised, before the election of 1992, that they would not raise taxes, but would cut them every year; and then went on to raise them by the largest amount in peacetime history starting in the first Budget after the election. The Exchange Rate Mechanism as the cornerstone of economic policy, Europe, health, crime, schools, sleaze - the broken promises are strewn across the country's memory.

The Conservatives' broken promises taint all politics. That is why we have made it our guiding rule not to promise what we cannot deliver; and to deliver what we promise. What follows is not the politics of a 100 days that dazzles for a time, then fizzles out. It is not the politics of a revolution, but of a fresh start, the patient rebuilding and renewing of this country - renewal that can take root and build over time.

That is one way in which politics in Britain will gain a new lease of life. But there is another. We aim to put behind us the bitter political struggles of left and right that have torn our country apart for too many decades. Many of these conflicts have no relevance whatsoever to the modern world - public versus private, bosses versus workers, middle class versus working class. It is time for this country to move on and move forward. We are proud of our history, proud of what we have achieved - but we must learn from our history, not be chained to it.

New Labour
The purpose of new Labour is to give Britain a different political choice: the choice between a failed Conservative government, exhausted and divided in everything other than its desire to cling on to power, and a new and revitalised Labour Party that has been resolute in transforming itself into a party of the future. We have rewritten our constitution, the new Clause IV, to put a commitment to enterprise alongside the commitment to justice. We have changed the way we make policy, and put our relations with the trade unions on a modern footing where they accept they can get fairness but no favours from a Labour government. Our MPs are all now selected by ordinary party members, not small committees or pressure groups. The membership itself has doubled, to over 400,000, with half the members having joined since the last election.

We submitted our draft manifesto, new Labour new life for Britain, to a ballot of all our members, 95 per cent of whom gave it their express endorsement.

We are a national party, supported today by people from all walks of life, from the successful businessman or woman to the pensioner on a council estate. Young people have flooded in to join us in what is the fastest growing youth section of any political party in the western world.

The vision
We are a broad-based movement for progress and justice. New Labour is the political arm of none other than the British people as a whole. Our values are the same: the equal worth of all, with no one cast aside; fairness and justice within strong communities.

But we have liberated these values from outdated dogma or doctrine, and we have applied these values to the modern world.

I want a country in which people get on, do well, make a success of their lives. I have no time for the politics of envy. We need more successful entrepreneurs, not fewer of them. But these life-chances should be for all the people. And I want a society in which ambition and compassion are seen as partners not opposites - where we value public service as well as material wealth.

New Labour believes in a society where we do not simply pursue our own individual aims but where we hold many aims in common and work together to achieve them. How we build the industry and employment opportunities of the future; how we tackle the division and inequality in our society; how we care for and enhance our environment and quality of life; how we develop modern education and health services; how we create communities that are safe, where mutual respect and tolerance are the order of the day. These are things we must achieve together as a country.

The vision is one of national renewal, a country with drive, purpose and energy. A Britain equipped to prosper in a global economy of technological change; with a modern welfare state; its politics more accountable; and confident of its place in the world.

Programme: a new centre and centre-left politics
In each area of policy a new and distinctive approach has been mapped out, one that differs both from the solutions of the old left and those of the Conservative right. This is why new Labour is new. We believe in the strength of our values, but we recognise also that the policies of 1997 cannot be those of 1947 or 1967. More detailed policy has been produced by us than by any opposition in history. Our direction and destination are clear.

The old left would have sought state control of industry. The Conservative right is content to leave all to the market. We reject both approaches. Government and industry must work together to achieve key objectives aimed at enhancing the dynamism of the market, not undermining it.

In industrial relations, we make it clear that there will be no return to flying pickets, secondary action, strikes with no ballots or the trade union law of the 1970s. There will instead be basic minimum rights for the individual at the workplace, where our aim is partnership not conflict between employers and employees.

In economic management, we accept the global economy as a reality and reject the isolationism and 'go-it-alone' policies of the extremes of right or left.

In education, we reject both the idea of a return to the 11-plus and the monolithic comprehensive schools that take no account of children's differing abilities. Instead we favour all-in schooling which identifies the distinct abilities of individual pupils and organises them in classes to maximise their progress in individual subjects. In this way we modernise the comprehensive principle, learning from the experience of its 30 years of application.

In health policy, we will safeguard the basic principles of the NHS, which we founded, but will not return to the top-down management of the 1970s. So we will keep the planning and provision of healthcare separate, but put planning on a longer-term, decentralised and more co-operative basis. The key is to root out unnecessary administrative cost, and to spend money on the right things - frontline care.

On crime, we believe in personal responsibility and in punishing crime, but also tackling its underlying causes - so, tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, different from the Labour approach of the past and the Tory policy of today.

Over-centralisation of government and lack of accountability was a problem in governments of both left and right. Labour is committed to the democratic renewal of our country through decentralisation and the elimination of excessive government secrecy.

In addition, we will face up to the new issues that confront us. We will be the party of welfare reform. In consultation and partnership with the people, we will design a modern welfare state based on rights and duties going together, fit for the modern world.

We will stand up for Britain's interests in Europe after the shambles of the last six years, but, more than that, we will lead a campaign for reform in Europe. Europe isn't working in the way this country and Europe need. But to lead means to be involved, to be constructive, to be capable of getting our own way.

We will put concern for the environment at the heart of policy-making, so that it is not an add-on extra, but informs the whole of government, from housing and energy policy through to global warming and international agreements.

We will search out at every turn new ways and new ideas to tackle the new issues: how to encourage more flexible working hours and practices to suit employees and employers alike; how to harness the huge potential of the new information technology; how to simplify the processes of the government machine; how to put public and private sector together in partnership to give us the infrastructure and transport system we need.

We will be a radical government. But the definition of radicalism will not be that of doctrine, whether of left or right, but of achievement. New Labour is a party of ideas and ideals but not of outdated ideology. What counts is what works. The objectives are radical. The means will be modern.

So the party is transformed. The vision is clear. And from that vision stems a modern programme of change and renewal for Britain. We understand that after 18 years of one-party rule, people want change, believe that it is necessary for the country and for democracy, but require faith to make the change.

We therefore set out in the manifesto that follows ten commitments, commitments that form our bond of trust with the people. They are specific. They are real. Judge us on them. Have trust in us and we will repay that trust.

Our mission in politics is to rebuild this bond of trust between government and the people. That is the only way democracy can flourish. I pledge to Britain a government which shares their hopes, which understands their fears, and which will work as partners with and for all our people, not just the privileged few. This is our contract with the people.
Over the five years of a Labour government:
1 Education will be our number one priority, and we will increase the share of national income spent on education as we decrease it on the bills of economic and social failure

2 There will be no increase in the basic or top rates of income tax

3 We will provide stable economic growth with low inflation, and promote dynamic and competitive business and industry at home and abroad

4 We will get 250,000 young unemployed off benefit and into work

5 We will rebuild the NHS, reducing spending on administration and increasing spending on patient care

6 We will be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, and halve the time it takes persistent juvenile offenders to come to court

7 We will help build strong families and strong communities, and lay the foundations of a modern welfare state in pensions and community care

8 We will safeguard our environment, and develop an integrated transport policy to fight congestion and pollution

9 We will clean up politics, decentralise political power throughout the United Kingdom and put the funding of political parties on a proper and accountable basis

10 We will give Britain the leadership in Europe which Britain and Europe need

We have modernised the Labour Party and we will modernise Britain. This means knowing where we want to go; being clear-headed about the country's future; telling the truth; making tough choices; insisting that all parts of the public sector live within their means; taking on vested interests that hold people back; standing up to unreasonable demands from any quarter; and being prepared to give a moral lead where government has responsibilities it should not avoid.

Britain does deserve better. And new Labour will be better for Britain.

Tony Blair
A copy of the manifesto is available in Braille and on cassette. Please phone 0171 277 3410

Visit Labour's general election website at www.labourwin97.org.uk (no longer available)
We will make education our number one priority

* Cut class sizes to 30 or under for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds
* Nursery places for all four year-olds
* Attack low standards in schools
* Access to computer technology
* Lifelong learning through a new University for Industry
* More spending on education as the cost of unemployment falls

Education has been the Tories' biggest failure. It is Labour's number one priority.

It is not just good for the individual. It is an economic necessity for the nation. We will compete successfully on the basis of quality or not at all. And quality comes from developing the potential of all our people. It is the people who are our greatest natural asset. We will ensure they can fulfil their potential.

Nearly half of 11 year-olds in England and Wales fail to reach expected standards in English and maths. Britain has a smaller share of 17 and 18 year-olds in full-time education than any major industrial nation. Nearly two thirds of the British workforce lack vocational qualifications.

There are excellent schools in Britain's state education system. But far too many children are denied the opportunity to succeed. Our task is to raise the standards of every school.

We will put behind us the old arguments that have bedevilled education in this country. We reject the Tories' obsession with school structures: all parents should be offered real choice through good quality schools, each with its own strengths and individual ethos. There should be no return to the 11-plus. It divides children into successes and failures at far too early an age.

We must modernise comprehensive schools. Children are not all of the same ability, nor do they learn at the same speed. That means 'setting' children in classes to maximise progress, for the benefit of high-fliers and slower learners alike. The focus must be on levelling up, not levelling down.

With Labour, the Department for Education and Employment will become a leading office of state. It will give a strong and consistent lead to help raise standards in every school. Standards, more than structures, are the key to success. Labour will never put dogma before children's education. Our approach will be to intervene where there are problems, not where schools are succeeding.

Labour will never force the abolition of good schools whether in the private or state sector. Any changes in the admissions policies of grammar schools will be decided by local parents. Church schools will retain their distinctive religious ethos.

We wish to build bridges wherever we can across education divides. The educational apartheid created by the public/private divide diminishes the whole education system.

Zero tolerance of underperformance
Every school has the capacity to succeed. All Local Education Authorities (LEAs) must demonstrate that every school is improving. For those failing schools unable to improve, ministers will order a 'fresh start' - close the school and start afresh on the same site. Where good schools and bad schools coexist side by side we will authorise LEAs to allow one school to take over the other to set the underperforming school on a new path.

Quality nursery education guaranteed for all four year-olds
Nursery vouchers have been proven not to work. They are costly and do not generate more quality nursery places. We will use the money saved by scrapping nursery vouchers to guarantee places for four year-olds. We will invite selected local authorities to pilot early excellence centres combining education and care for the under-fives. We will set targets for universal provision for three year-olds whose parents want it.

New focus on standards in primary schools
Primary schools are the key to mastering the basics and developing in every child an eagerness to learn.

Every school needs baseline assessment of pupils when they enter the school, and a year-on-year target for improvement.

We will reduce class sizes for five, six and seven year-olds to 30 or under, by phasing out the assisted places scheme, the cost of which is set to rise to £180 million per year.

We must recognise the three 'r's for what they are - building blocks of all learning that must be taught better. We will achieve this by improving the skills of the teaching force; ensuring a stronger focus on literacy in the curriculum; and piloting literacy summer schools to meet our new target that within a decade every child leaves primary school with a reading age of at least 11 (barely half do today).

Our numeracy taskforce will develop equally ambitious targets. We will encourage the use of the most effective teaching methods, including phonics for reading and whole class interactive teaching for maths.

Attacking educational disadvantage
No matter where a school is, Labour will not tolerate under-achievement.

Public/private partnerships will improve the condition of school buildings.

There will be education action zones to attack low standards by recruiting the best teachers and head teachers to under-achieving schools; by supporting voluntary mentoring schemes to provide one-to-one support for disadvantaged pupils; and by creating new opportunities for children, after the age of 14, to enhance their studies by acquiring knowledge and experience within industry and commerce.

To attack under-achievement in urban areas, we have developed a new scheme with the Premier League. In partnerships between central government, local government and football clubs, study support centres will be set up at Premier League grounds for the benefit of local children. The scheme will be launched on a pilot basis during the 1997/8 season.

We support the greatest possible integration into mainstream education of pupils with special educational needs, while recognising that specialist facilities are essential to meet particular needs.

Realising the potential of new technology
Labour is the pioneer of new thinking. We have agreed with British Telecom and the cable companies that they will wire up schools, libraries, colleges and hospitals to the information superhighway free of charge. We have also secured agreement to make access charges as low as possible.

For the Internet we plan a National Grid for Learning, franchised as a public/private partnership, which will bring to teachers up-to-date materials to enhance their skills, and to children high-quality educational materials. We will use lottery money to improve the skills of existing teachers in information technology.

In opposition, Labour set up the independent Stevenson Commission to promote access for children to new technology. Its recent report is a challenging programme for the future. We are urgently examining how to implement its plans, in particular the development of educational software through a grading system which will provide schools with guarantees of product quality; and the provision for every child of an individual email address. An independent standing committee will continue to advise us on the implementation of our plans in government.

The role of parents
We will increase the powers and responsibilities of parents.

There will be more parent governors and, for the first time, parent representatives on LEAs.

A major objective is to promote a culture of responsibility for learning within the family, through contracts between all schools and parents, defining the responsibilities of each. National guidelines will establish minimum periods for homework for primary and secondary school pupils.

Teachers will be entitled to positive support from parents to promote good attendance and sound discipline. Schools suffer from unruly and disruptive pupils. Exclusion or suspension may sometimes be necessary. We will, however, pilot new pupil referral units so that schools are protected but these pupils are not lost to education or the country.

New job description for LEAs
The judge and jury of LEA performance will be their contribution to raising standards.

LEAs are closer to schools than central government, and have the authority of being locally elected. But they will be required to devolve power, and more of their budgets, to heads and governors. LEA performance will be inspected by Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Where authorities are deemed to be failing, the secretary of state may suspend the relevant powers of the LEA and send in an improvement team.

Grant maintained schools
Schools that are now grant maintained will prosper with Labour's proposals, as will every school.

Tory claims that Labour will close these schools are false. The system of funding will not discriminate unfairly either between schools or between pupils. LEAs will be represented on governing bodies, but will not control them. We support guidelines for open and fair admissions, along the lines of those introduced in 1993; but we will also provide a right of appeal to an independent panel in disputed cases.

Teachers: pressure and support
Schools are critically dependent on the quality of all staff. The majority of teachers are skilful and dedicated, but some fall short. We will improve teacher training, and ensure that all teachers have an induction year when they first qualify, to ensure their suitability for teaching.

There will be a general teaching council to speak for and raise standards in the profession. We will create a new grade of teachers to recognise the best. There will, however, be speedy, but fair, procedures to remove teachers who cannot do the job.

The strength of a school is critically dependent on the quality of its head. We will establish mandatory qualifications for the post. A head teacher will be appointed to a position only when fully trained to accept the responsibility.

Higher education
The improvement and expansion needed cannot be funded out of general taxation. Our proposals for funding have been made to the Dearing Committee, in line with successful policies abroad.

The costs of student maintenance should be repaid by graduates on an income-related basis, from the career success to which higher education has contributed. The current system is badly administered and payback periods are too short. We will provide efficient administration, with fairness ensured by longer payback periods where required.

Lifelong learning
We must learn throughout life, to retain employment through new and improved skills. We will promote adult learning both at work and in the critical sector of further education.

In schools and colleges, we support broader A-levels and upgraded vocational qualifications, underpinned by rigorous standards and key skills.

Employers have the primary responsibility for training their workforces in job-related skills. But individuals should be given the power to invest in training. We will invest public money for training in Individual Learning Accounts which individuals - for example women returning to the labour force - can then use to gain the skills they want. We will kickstart the programme for up to a million people, using £150 million of TEC money which could be better used and which would provide a contribution of £150, alongside individuals making small investments of their own. Employers will be encouraged to make voluntary contributions to these funds. We will also promote the extension of the Investors in People initiative into many more small firms.

Our new University for Industry, collaborating with the Open University, will bring new opportunities to adults seeking to develop their potential. This will bring government, industry and education together to create a new resource whose remit will be to use new technology to enhance skills and education. The University for Industry will be a public/private partnership, commissioning software and developing the links to extend lifelong learning.

Government spending on education
The Conservatives have cut government spending on education as a share of national income by the equivalent of more than £3 billion as spending on the bills of economic and social failure has risen. We are committed to reversing this trend of spending. Over the course of a five-year Parliament, as we cut the costs of economic and social failure we will raise the proportion of national income spent on education.
We will promote personal prosperity for all

* Economic stability to promote investment
* Tough inflation target, mortgage rates as low as possible
* Stick for two years within existing spending limits
* Five-year pledge: no increase in income tax rates
* Long-term objective of ten pence starting rate of income tax
* Early Budget to get people off welfare and into work

The Conservatives have in 18 years created the two longest, deepest recessions this century.

We have experienced the slowest average growth rate of any similar period since the second world war. There has been a fundamental failure to tackle the underlying causes of inflation, of low growth and of unemployment. These are:

* too much economic instability, with wild swings from boom to bust
* too little investment in education and skills, and in the application of new technologies
* too few opportunities to find jobs, start new businesses or become self-employed
* too narrow an industrial base and too little sense of common purpose in the workplace or across the nation.

Britain can do better. We must build on the British qualities of inventiveness, creativity and adaptability. New Labour's objective is to improve living standards for the many, not just the few. Business can and must succeed in raising productivity. This requires a combination of a skilled and educated workforce with investment in the latest technological innovations, as the route to higher wages and employment.

An explicit objective of a Labour government will be to raise the trend rate of growth by strengthening our wealth-creating base. We will nurture investment in industry, skills, infrastructure and new technologies. And we will attack long-term unemployment, especially among young people. Our goal will be educational and employment opportunities for all.

Economic stability is the essential platform for sustained growth. In a global economy the route to growth is stability not inflation. The priority must be stable, low-inflation conditions for long-term growth. The root causes of inflation and low growth are the same - an economic and industrial base that remains weak. Government cannot solve all economic problems or end the economic cycle. But by spending wisely and taxing fairly, government can help tackle the problems. Our goals are low inflation, rising living standards and high and stable levels of employment.

Spending and tax: new Labour's approach
The myth that the solution to every problem is increased spending has been comprehensively dispelled under the Conservatives. Spending has risen. But more spending has brought neither greater fairness nor less poverty. Quite the reverse - our society is more divided than it has been for generations. The level of public spending is no longer the best measure of the effectiveness of government action in the public interest. It is what money is actually spent on that counts more than how much money is spent.

The national debt has doubled under John Major. The public finances remain weak. A new Labour government will give immediate high priority to seeing how public money can be better used.

New Labour will be wise spenders, not big spenders. We will work in partnership with the private sector to achieve our goals. We will ask about public spending the first question that a manager in any company would ask - can existing resources be used more effectively to meet our priorities? And because efficiency and value for money are central, ministers will be required to save before they spend.

Save to invest is our approach, not tax and spend.

The increase in taxes under the Conservatives is the most dramatic evidence of economic failure. Since 1992 the typical family has paid more than £2,000 in extra taxes - the biggest tax hike in peacetime history, breaking every promise made by John Major at the last election. The tragedy is that those hardest hit are least able to pay. That is why we strongly opposed the imposition of VAT on fuel: it was Labour that stopped the government from increasing VAT on fuel to 17. 5 per cent.

Taxation is not neutral in the way it raises revenue. How and what governments tax sends clear signals about the economic activities they believe should be encouraged or discouraged, and the values they wish to entrench in society. Just as, for example, work should be encouraged through the tax system, environmental pollution should be discouraged.

New Labour will establish a new trust on tax with the British people. The promises we make we will keep. The principles that will underpin our tax policy are clear:

* to encourage employment opportunities and work incentives for all
* to promote savings and investment
* and to be fair and be seen to be fair.

New Labour is not about high taxes on ordinary families. It is about social justice and a fair deal.

New Labour therefore makes the following economic pledges.

Fair taxes
There will be no return to the penal tax rates that existed under both Labour and Conservative governments in the 1970s.

To encourage work and reward effort, we are pledged not to raise the basic or top rates of income tax throughout the next Parliament.

Our long-term objective is a lower starting rate of income tax of ten pence in the pound. Reducing the high marginal rates at the bottom end of the earning scale - often 70 or 80 per cent - is not only fair but desirable to encourage employment.

This goal will benefit the many, not the few. It is in sharp contrast to the Tory goal of abolishing capital gains and inheritance tax, at least half the benefit of which will go to the richest 5,000 families in the country.

We will cut VAT on fuel to five per cent, the lowest level allowed.

We renew our pledge not to extend VAT to food, children's clothes, books and newspapers and public transport fares.

We will also examine the interaction of the tax and benefits systems so that they can be streamlined and modernised, so as to fulfil our objectives of promoting work incentives, reducing poverty and welfare dependency, and strengthening community and family life.

No risks with inflation
We will match the current target for low and stable inflation of 2. 5 per cent or less. We will reform the Bank of England to ensure that decision-making on monetary policy is more effective, open, accountable and free from short-term political manipulation.

Strict rules for government borrowing
We will enforce the 'golden rule' of public spending - over the economic cycle, we will only borrow to invest and not to fund current expenditure.

We will ensure that - over the economic cycle - public debt as a proportion of national income is at a stable and prudent level.

Stick to planned public spending allocations for the first two years of office
Our decisions have not been taken lightly. They are a recognition of Conservative mismanagement of the public finances. For the next two years Labour will work within the departmental ceilings for spending already announced. We will resist unreasonable demands on the public purse, including any unreasonable public sector pay demands.

Switch spending from economic failure to investment
We will conduct a central spending review and departmental reviews to assess how to use resources better, while rooting out waste and inefficiency in public spending.

Labour priorities in public spending are different from Tory priorities.

Tax reform to promote saving and investment
We will introduce a new individual savings account and extend the principle of TESSAs and PEPs to promote long-term saving. We will review the corporate and capital gains tax regimes to see how the tax system can promote greater long-term investment.

Labour's welfare-to-work Budget
We will introduce a Budget within two months after the election to begin the task of equipping the British economy and reforming the welfare state to get young people and the long-term unemployed back to work. This welfare-to-work programme will be funded by a windfall levy on the excess profits of the privatised utilities, introduced in this Budget after we have consulted the regulators.
We will help create successful and profitable businesses

* Backing business: skills, infrastructure, new markets
* Gains for consumers with tough competition law
* New measures to help small businesses
* National minimum wage to tackle low pay
* Boost local economic growth with Regional Development Agencies
* A strong and effective voice in Europe

New Labour offers business a new deal for the future. We will leave intact the main changes of the 1980s in industrial relations and enterprise. We see healthy profits as an essential motor of a dynamic market economy, and believe they depend on quality products, innovative entrepreneurs and skilled employees. We will build a new partnership with business to improve the competitiveness of British industry for the 21st century, leading to faster growth.

Many of the fundamentals of the British economy are still weak. Low pay and low skills go together: insecurity is the consequence of economic instability; the absence of quality jobs is a product of the weakness of our industrial base; we suffer from both high unemployment and skills shortages. There is no future for Britain as a low wage economy: we cannot compete on wages with countries paying a tenth or a hundredth of British wages.

We need to win on higher quality, skill, innovation and reliability. With Labour, British and inward investors will find this country an attractive and profitable place to do business.

New Labour believes in a flexible labour market that serves employers and employees alike. But flexibility alone is not enough. We need 'flexibility plus':

* plus higher skills and higher standards in our schools and colleges
* plus policies to ensure economic stability
* plus partnership with business to raise investment in infrastructure, science and research and to back small firms
* plus new leadership from Britain to reform Europe, in place of the current policy of drift and disengagement from our largest market
* plus guaranteeing Britain's membership of the single market - indeed opening up further markets inside and outside the EU - helping make Britain an attractive place to do business
* plus minimum standards of fair treatment, including a national minimum wage
* plus an imaginative welfare-to-work programme to put the long-term unemployed back to work and to cut social security costs.

A reformed and tougher competition law
Competitiveness abroad must begin with competition at home. Effective competition can bring value and quality to consumers. As an early priority we will reform Britain's competition law. We will adopt a tough 'prohibitive' approach to deter anti-competitive practices and abuses of market power.

In the utility industries we will promote competition wherever possible. Where competition is not an effective discipline, for example in the water industry which has a poor environmental record and has in most cases been a tax-free zone, we will pursue tough, efficient regulation in the interests of customers, and, in the case of water, in the interests of the environment as well. We recognise the need for open and predictable regulation which is fair both to consumers and to shareholders and at the same time provides incentives for managers to innovate and improve efficiency.

Reinvigorate the Private Finance Initiative
Britain's infrastructure is dangerously run down: parts of our road and rail network are seriously neglected, and all too often our urban environment has been allowed to deteriorate.

Labour pioneered the idea of public/private partnerships. It is Labour local authorities which have done most to create these partnerships at local level.

A Labour government will overcome the problems that have plagued the PFI at a national level. We will set priorities between projects, saving time and expense; we will seek a realistic allocation of risk between the partners to a project; and we will ensure that best practice is spread throughout government. We will aim to simplify and speed up the planning process for major infrastructure projects of vital national interest.

We will ensure that self-financing commercial organisations within the public sector - the Post Office is a prime example - are given greater commercial freedom to make the most of new opportunities.

Backing small business
The number of small employers has declined by half a million since 1990. Support for small businesses will have a major role in our plans for economic growth. We will cut unnecessary red tape; provide for statutory interest on late payment of debts; improve support for high-tech start-ups; improve the quality and relevance of advice and training through a reformed Business Links network and the University for Industry; and assist firms to enter overseas markets more effectively.

Local economic growth
Prosperity needs to be built from the bottom up. We will establish one-stop regional development agencies to co-ordinate regional economic development, help small business and encourage inward investment. Many regions are already taking informal steps to this end and they will be supported.

Strengthen our capability in science, technology and design
The UK must be positively committed to the global pursuit of new knowledge, with a strong science base in our universities and centres of excellence leading the world. The Dearing Committee represents a significant opportunity to promote high-quality standards in science teaching and research throughout UK higher education. We support a collaborative approach between researchers and business, spreading the use of new technology and good design, and exploiting our own inventions to boost business in the UK.

Promoting new green technologies and businesses
There is huge potential to develop Britain's environmental technology industries to create jobs, win exports and protect the environment.

Effective environmental management is an increasingly important component of modern business practice. We support a major push to promote energy conservation - particularly by the promotion of home energy efficiency schemes, linked to our environment taskforce for the under-25s. We are committed to an energy policy designed to promote cleaner, more efficient energy use and production, including a new and strong drive to develop renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy, and combined heat and power. We see no economic case for the building of any new nuclear power stations.

Key elements of the 1980s trade union reforms to stay
There must be minimum standards for the individual at work, including a minimum wage, within a flexible labour market. We need a sensible balance in industrial relations law - rights and duties go together.

The key elements of the trade union legislation of the 1980s will stay - on ballots, picketing and industrial action. People should be free to join or not to join a union. Where they do decide to join, and where a majority of the relevant workforce vote in a ballot for the union to represent them, the union should be recognised. This promotes stable and orderly industrial relations. There will be full consultation on the most effective means of implementing this proposal.

Partnership at work
The best companies recognise their employees as partners in the enterprise. Employees whose conditions are good are more committed to their companies and are more productive. Many unions and employers are embracing partnership in place of conflict. Government should welcome this.

We are keen to encourage a variety of forms of partnership and enterprise, spreading ownership and encouraging more employees to become owners through Employee Share Ownership Plans and co-operatives. We support too the Social Chapter of the EU, but will deploy our influence in Europe to ensure that it develops so as to promote employability and competitiveness, not inflexibility.

A sensibly set national minimum wage
There should be a statutory level beneath which pay should not fall - with the minimum wage decided not on the basis of a rigid formula but according to the economic circumstances of the time and with the advice of an independent low pay commission, whose membership will include representatives of employers, including small business, and employees.

Every modern industrial country has a minimum wage, including the US and Japan. Britain used to have minimum wages through the Wages Councils. Introduced sensibly, the minimum wage will remove the worst excesses of low pay (and be of particular benefit to women), while cutting some of the massive £4 billion benefits bill by which the taxpayer subsidises companies that pay very low wages.
We will get the unemployed from welfare to work

* Stop the growth of an 'underclass' in Britain
* 250,000 young unemployed off benefit and into work
* Tax cuts for employers who create new jobs for the long-term unemployed
* Effective help for lone parents

There are over one million fewer jobs in Britain than in 1990. One in five families has no one working. One million single mothers are trapped on benefits. There is a wider gap between rich and poor than for generations.

We are determined not to continue down the road of a permanent have-not class, unemployed and disaffected from society. Our long-term objective is high and stable levels of employment. This is the true meaning of a stakeholder economy - where everyone has a stake in society and owes responsibilities to it.

The best way to tackle poverty is to help people into jobs - real jobs. The unemployed have a responsibility to take up the opportunity of training places or work, but these must be real opportunities. The government's workfare proposals - with a success rate of one in ten - fail this test.

Labour's welfare-to-work programme will attack unemployment and break the spiral of escalating spending on social security. A one-off windfall levy on the excess profits of the privatised utilities will fund our ambitious programme.

Every young person unemployed for more than six months in a job or training
We will give 250,000 under-25s opportunities for work, education and training. Four options will be on offer, each involving day-release education or training leading to a qualification: private-sector job: employers will be offered a 60 pound-a-week rebate for six months work with a non-profit voluntary sector employer, paying a weekly wage, equivalent to benefit plus a fixed sum for six months full-time study for young people without qualifications on an approved course a job with the environment taskforce, linked to Labour's citizens' service programme. Rights and responsibilities must go hand in hand, without a fifth option of life on full benefit.

Every 16 and 17 year-old on the road to a proper qualification by the year 2000
Nearly a third of young people do not achieve an NVQ level two qualification by age 19. All young people will be offered part-time or full-time education after the age of 16. Any under-18 year-old in a job will have the right to study on an approved course for qualifications at college. We will replace the failed Youth Training scheme with our new Target 2000 programme, offering young people high-quality education and training.

Action on long-term unemployment
New partnerships between government and business, fully involving local authorities and the voluntary sector, will attack long-term joblessness. We will encourage employers to take on those who have suffered unemployment for more than two years with a 75 pound-a-week tax rebate paid for six months, financed by the windfall levy. Our programme for the phased release of past receipts from council house sales will provide new jobs in the construction industry.

Lone parents into work
Today the main connection between unemployed lone parents and the state is their benefits. Most lone parents want to work, but are given no help to find it. New Labour has a positive policy. Once the youngest child is in the second term of full-time school, lone parents will be offered advice by a proactive Employment Service to develop a package of job search, training and after-school care to help them off benefit.

Customised, personalised services
We favour initiatives with new combinations of available benefits to suit individual circumstances. In new and innovative 'Employment Zones', personal job accounts will combine money currently available for benefits and training, to offer the unemployed new options - leading to work and independence. We will co-ordinate benefits, employment and career services, and utilise new technology to improve their quality and efficiency.

Just as we owe it to the taxpayer to crack down on tax avoidance, so we must crack down on dishonesty in the benefit system. We will start with a clampdown on Housing Benefit fraud, estimated to cost £2 billion a year, and will maintain action against benefit fraud of all kinds.
We will save the NHS

* 100,000 people off waiting lists
* End the Tory internal market
* End waiting for cancer surgery
* Tough quality targets for hospitals
* Independent food standards agency
* New public health drive
* Raise spending in real terms every year - and spend the money on patients not bureaucracy

Labour created the NHS 50 years ago. It is under threat from the Conservatives. We want to save and modernise the NHS.

But if the Conservatives are elected again there may well not be an NHS in five years' time - neither national nor comprehensive. Labour commits itself anew to the historic principle: that if you are ill or injured there will be a national health service there to help; and access to it will be based on need and need alone - not on your ability to pay, or on who your GP happens to be or on where you live.

In 1990 the Conservatives imposed on the NHS a complex internal market of hospitals competing to win contracts from health authorities and fundholding GPs. The result is an NHS strangled by costly red tape, with every individual transaction the subject of a separate invoice. After six years, bureaucracy swallows an extra £1.5 billion per year; there are 20,000 more managers and 50,000 fewer nurses on the wards; and more than one million people are on waiting lists. The government has consistently failed to meet even its own health targets.

There can be no return to top-down management, but Labour will end the Conservatives' internal market in healthcare. The planning and provision of care are necessary and distinct functions, and will remain so. But under the Tories, the administrative costs of purchasing care have undermined provision and the market system has distorted clinical priorities. Labour will cut costs by removing the bureaucratic processes of the internal market.

The savings achieved will go on direct care for patients. As a start, the first £100 million saved will treat an extra 100,000 patients. We will end waiting for cancer surgery, thereby helping thousands of women waiting for breast cancer treatment.

Primary care will play a lead role
In recent years, GPs have gained power on behalf of their patients in a changed relationship with consultants, and we support this. But the development of GP fundholding has also brought disadvantages. Decision-making has been fragmented. Administrative costs have grown. And a two-tier service has resulted.

Labour will retain the lead role for primary care but remove the disadvantages that have come from the present system. GPs and nurses will take the lead in combining together locally to plan local health services more efficiently for all the patients in their area. This will enable all GPs in an area to bring their combined strength to bear upon individual hospitals to secure higher standards of patient provision. In making this change, we will build on the existing collaborative schemes which already serve 14 million people.

The current system of year-on-year contracts is costly and unstable. We will introduce three- to five-year agreements between the local primary care teams and hospitals. Hospitals will then be better able to plan work at full capacity and co-operate to enhance patient services.

Higher-quality services for patients
Hospitals will retain their autonomy over day-to-day administrative functions, but, as part of the NHS, they will be required to meet high-quality standards in the provision of care. Management will be held to account for performance levels. Boards will become more representative of the local communities they serve. A new patients' charter will concentrate on the quality and success of treatment. The Tories' so-called 'Efficiency Index' counts the number of patient 'episodes', not the quality or success of treatment. With Labour, the measure will be quality of outcome, itself an incentive for effectiveness. As part of our concern to ensure quality, we will work towards the elimination of mixed-sex wards.

Health authorities will become the guardians of high standards. They will monitor services, spread best practice and ensure rising standards of care.

The Tory attempt to use private money to build hospitals has failed to deliver. Labour will overcome the problems that have plagued the Private Finance Initiative, end the delays, sort out the confusion and develop new forms of public/private partnership that work better and protect the interests of the NHS. Labour is opposed to the privatisation of clinical services which is being actively promoted by the Conservatives.

Labour will promote new developments in telemedicine - bringing expert advice from regional centres of excellence to neighbourhood level using new technology.

Good health
A new minister for public health will attack the root causes of ill health, and so improve lives and save the NHS money. Labour will set new goals for improving the overall health of the nation which recognise the impact that poverty, poor housing, unemployment and a polluted environment have on health.

Smoking is the greatest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK. We will therefore ban tobacco advertising.

Labour will establish an independent food standards agency. The £3.5 billion BSE crisis and the E. coli outbreak which resulted in serious loss of life, have made unanswerable the case for the independent agency we have proposed.

NHS spending
The Conservatives have wasted spending on the NHS. We will do better. We will raise spending on the NHS in real terms every year and put the money towards patient care. And a greater proportion of every pound spent will go on patient care not bureaucracy.

An NHS for the future
The NHS requires continuity as well as change, or the system cannot cope. There must be pilots to ensure that change works. And there must be flexibility, not rigid prescription, if innovation is to flourish.

Our fundamental purpose is simple but hugely important: to restore the NHS as a public service working co-operatively for patients, not a commercial business driven by competition.
We will be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime

* Fast-track punishment for persistent young offenders
* Reform Crown Prosecution Service to convict more criminals
* Police on the beat not pushing paper
* Crackdown on petty crimes and neighbourhood disorder
* Fresh parliamentary vote to ban all handguns

Under the Conservatives, crime has doubled and many more criminals get away with their crimes: the number of people convicted has fallen by a third, with only one crime in 50 leading to a conviction. This is the worst record of any government since the Second World War - and for England and Wales the worst record of any major industrialised country. Last year alone violent crime rose 11 per cent.

We propose a new approach to law and order: tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. We insist on individual responsibility for crime, and will attack the causes of crime by our measures to relieve social deprivation.

The police have our strong support. They are in the front line of the fight against crime and disorder. The Conservatives have broken their 1992 general election pledge to provide an extra 1,000 police officers. We will relieve the police of unnecessary bureaucratic burdens to get more officers back on the beat.

Youth crime
Youth crime and disorder have risen sharply, but very few young offenders end up in court, and when they do half are let off with another warning. Young offenders account for seven million crimes a year.

Far too often young criminals offend again and again while waiting months for a court hearing. We will halve the time it takes to get persistent young offenders from arrest to sentencing; replace widespread repeat cautions with a single final warning; bring together Youth Offender Teams in every area; and streamline the system of youth courts to make it far more effective.

New parental responsibility orders will make parents face up to their responsibility for their children's misbehaviour.

Conviction and sentencing
The job of the Crown Prosecution Service is to prosecute criminals effectively. There is strong evidence that the CPS is over-centralised, bureaucratic and inefficient, with cases too often dropped, delayed, or downgraded to lesser offences.

Labour will decentralise the CPS, with local crown prosecutors co-operating more effectively with local police forces.

We will implement an effective sentencing system for all the main offences to ensure greater consistency and stricter punishment for serious repeat offenders. The courts will have to spell out what each sentence really means in practice. The Court of Appeal will have a duty to lay down sentencing guidelines for all the main offences. The attorney general's power to appeal unduly lenient sentences will be extended.

The prison service now faces serious financial problems. We will audit the resources available, take proper ministerial responsibility for the service, and seek to ensure that prison regimes are constructive and require inmates to face up to their offending behaviour.

The Conservatives have forgotten the 'order' part of 'law and order'. We will tackle the unacceptable level of anti-social behaviour and crime on our streets. Our 'zero tolerance' approach will ensure that petty criminality among young offenders is seriously addressed.

Community safety orders will deal with threatening and disruptive criminal neighbours. Labour has taken the lead in proposing action to tackle the problems of stalking and domestic violence.

Child protection orders will deal with young children suffering neglect by parents because they are left out on their own far too late at night.

Britain is a multiracial and multicultural society. All its members must have the protection of the law. We will create a new offence of racial harassment and a new crime of racially motivated violence to protect ethnic minorities from intimidation.

The vicious circle of drugs and crime wrecks lives and threatens communities. Labour will appoint an anti-drugs supremo to co-ordinate our battle against drugs across all government departments. The 'drug czar' will be a symbol of our commitment to tackle the modern menace of drugs in our communities.

We will pilot the use of compulsory drug testing and treatment orders for offenders to ensure that the link between drug addiction and crime is broken. This will be paid for by bringing remand delays down to the national targets.

We will attack the drug problem in prisons. In addition to random drug testing of all prisoners we will aim for a voluntary testing unit in every prison for prisoners ready to prove they are drug-free.

Victims of crime are too often neglected by the criminal justice system. We will ensure that victims are kept fully informed of the progress of their case, and why charges may have been downgraded or dropped.

Greater protection will be provided for victims in rape and serious sexual offence trials and for those subject to intimidation, including witnesses.

We will place a new responsibility on local authorities to develop statutory partnerships to help prevent crime. Local councils will then be required to set targets for the reduction of crime and disorder in their area.

Gun control
In the wake of Dunblane and Hungerford, it is clear that only the strictest firearms laws can provide maximum safety. The Conservatives failed to offer the protection required. Labour led the call for an outright ban on all handguns in general civilian use. There will be legislation to allow individual MPs a free vote for a complete ban on handguns.

Labour is the party of law and order in Britain today.
We will strengthen family life

* Help parents balance work and family
* Security in housing and help for homeowners
* Tackle homelessness using receipts from council house sales
* Dignity and security in retirement
* Protect the basic state pension and promote secure second pensions

We will uphold family life as the most secure means of bringing up our children. Families are the core of our society. They should teach right from wrong. They should be the first defence against anti-social behaviour. The breakdown of family life damages the fabric of our society.

Labour does not see families and the state as rival providers for the needs of our citizens. Families should provide the day-to-day support for children to be brought up in a stable and loving environment. But families cannot flourish unless government plays its distinctive role: in education; where necessary, in caring for the young; in making adequate provision for illness and old age; in supporting good parenting; and in protecting families from lawlessness and abuse of power. Society, through government, must assist families to achieve collectively what no family can achieve alone.

Yet families in Britain today are under strain as never before. The security once offered by the health service has been undermined. Streets are not safe. Housing insecurity grows. One in five non-pensioner families has no one working; and British men work the longest hours in Europe.

The clock should not be turned back. As many women who want to work should be able to do so. More equal relationships between men and women have transformed our lives. Equally, our attitudes to race, sex and sexuality have changed fundamentally. Our task is to combine change and social stability.

Work and family
Families without work are without independence. This is why we give so much emphasis to our welfare-to-work policies.

Labour's national childcare strategy will plan provision to match the requirements of the modern labour market and help parents, especially women, to balance family and working life.

There must be a sound balance between support for family life and the protection of business from undue burdens - a balance which some of the most successful businesses already strike. The current government has shown itself wholly insensitive to the need to help develop family-friendly working practices. While recognising the need for flexibility in implementation and for certain exemptions, we support the right of employees not to be forced to work more than 48 hours a week; to an annual holiday entitlement; and to limited unpaid parental leave. These measures will provide a valuable underpinning to family life.

The rights of part-time workers have been clarified by recent court judgements which we welcome.

We will keep under continuous review all aspects of the tax and benefits systems to ensure that they are supportive of families and children. We are committed to retain universal Child Benefit where it is universal today - from birth to age 16 - and to uprate it at least in line with prices. We are reviewing educational finance and maintenance for those older than 16 to ensure higher staying-on rates at school and college, and that resources are used to support those in most need. This review will continue in government on the guidelines we have already laid down.

Run out of space - read more of these lies here:


I hope that was cut and paste, or get yourself down to the mo for rsi!
When he realised that the only way him and his mob could get elected was to become a conservative - more fools the conservatives for letting him.
ugly said:
I hope that was cut and paste, or get yourself down to the mo for rsi!
I've got RSI just from scrolling past the lies!
I'm not a Labour supporter but I'd have to say Blair wasn't too much of an annoyance during his first term. However, he and his lot have become progressively worse particularly with regard to their nanny state mentality, mishandling of immigration, undermining our military, amongst other things already mentioned in this thread.
With the exception of a few [and I use the word advisedly] honourable Labourites like Field and Hoey, I despise the whole damn lot! Realised this many years ago and Bliar in particular as soon as the grinning fool became PM.

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