Election '97: Did I really say that?

No politician admits to a U-turn, but sometimes they have to ask
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The Independent Online
They are the poll promises Labour politicians would prefer not to have made, writes Randeep Ramesh.

Drawn from election manifestos over the past two decades, and obscured by the mists of time, they advocate withdrawal from the European community, higher taxes and unilateral nuclear disarmament. Candidates would today be facing expulsion from the party if they were to dare utter such thoughts. Yet these are comments by Tony Blair and some of his closest colleagues. It is little wonder that Mr Blair grew testy when reminded by David Dimbleby on Monday's Panorama about his support for CND and his previous passionate defence of trade union rights.

Tony Blair told electors in Sedgefield in 1983:

We must "negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs".

We need "a more sane defence policy ... We don't need dangerous and costly Trident and Cruise missiles, which just escalate the nuclear arms race".

David Blunkett, 26, in Sheffield in 1974:

Wanted to "begin to restore the sanity and harmony in industrial relations by repealing the provocative Industrial Relations Act ... restore the savage cuts in education and the social services ... take development land into public ownership and stop speculation in property".

Paul Boateng in 1987 told voters in Brent:

"The solution [to the Irish situation] must be a political one based on a united Ireland as an immediate political goal and a phased withdrawal of troops within the lifetime of the next Labour parliament."

Gordon Brown in 1983, as an editor on Scottish Television's What's Your Problem:

Promised "more help for those in need ... Families better off as child benefit rises ... Pensioners better off as the link with rising earnings is restored and our old people are paid the money that Mrs Thatcher stole from them."

Gordon Brown in 1992:

Wanted to "Raise tax level for only the very rich, a national minimum wage of pounds 3.40 an hour, raise child benefit to pounds 9.95 back to its value in 1987 when the Tories froze it."

Frank Dobson, 39, in 1979:

Campaigned against British membership of the Common Market. He still believes we should come out.

Jack Cunningham in 1974:

Wanted "mortgages held at 11 per cent, a massive boost in coal industry investments and gift and wealth taxes".

Chris Smith, 31, in 1983:

Supports CND, believes "The Tories' union-bashing laws have made it impossible for trade unions to do their job and represent the interests of working people. Labour will restore their rights. Labour is proud to be a socialist party. We must build a society that is based on people's needs and not on the blind pursuit of profit."

John Prescott in 1966:

The Prices and Incomes Board will be reconstituted to ensure the real value of the salary cheque and wage packet.

Harriet Harman in 1983:

Promised "where the Tories gamble with our future by vast spending on nuclear weapons, Labour will safeguard the country with a non-nuclear defence programme".

Margaret Jackson (later Beckett) in 1979:

Warned that the Tories would sell off the United Kingdom's stake in British Petroleum and that "Labour will keep our control over our greatest national asset and use it to help you."

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