Labour alarm over `lack of trust in Blair'

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A leaked internal Labour Party document warns that vagueness about Labour's policies and lack of trust in its leader, Tony Blair, were problems in spite of the massive lead over the Conservatives.

The document says that "the extent to which Tony is in control is beginning to worry the public".

It summarises its advice to the Labour leader as: "Tony in control, won't promise what we can't deliver; partnership with the people; trade unions, no favours...

"A problem for Labour is that of trust. This is Tony Blair's weakest rating and it seems to be more to do with a lack of clarity about what Labour will actually do rather than a real fear of Labour."

The findings from "focus group" polling by the party's advisers may have contributed to Mr Blair's determination to take a clear lead on Europe, in spite of the risk of losing votes to the Euro-sceptic approach by the Government.

The document, dated 6 March, also warned the Labour leadership against adopting a negative campaign to attack the Tories in the run-up to the election.

It said the feelings of hatred towards the Tories were declining and threats for a fifth term such as a privatised NHS and large class sizes had "no salience among floating voters - there are dangers in pursuing this line".

Too much negative imagery had the effect of depressing people when Labour's - and Mr Blair's - greatest strength was positive vision, according to the report leaked to the BBC Newsnight programme.