Blair launches policy drive to deflect focus from retirement

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair has pledged to launch a drive that will allay the public's fears about terrorism and immigration - in an attempt to show the Government has not lost sight of its priorities.

On the day he returned from his summer break in Barbados, the Prime Minister announced he would discuss with cabinet colleagues the new agenda he believes is uppermost in the voters' minds after this month's alleged terrorist plot and the publication of figures about immigration and population growth.

Mr Blair hopes his new focus will quell demands from inside the Labour Party for him to announce his planned departure date from Downing Street. He shows no sign of bowing to the pressure.

Instead, he will portray himself as having the energy and experience to address the new problems facing Britain. His spokesman said yesterday: "After nearly a decade in office, the Prime Minister is convinced his Government has the experience and authority to meet these challenges."

Mr Blair believes the events of this summer have seen the "challenges of globalisation" move to centre stage in the public's mind. "He recognises that this is now the dominant issue in British society and one that the Government will continue to respond to with renewed vigour," said the spokesman.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the public's top priorities were creating a stable economy and high levels of employment, Mr Blair believes. But now people want politicians to put their concerns about security, immigration and community cohesion at the top of their agenda.

The spokesman added: "The benefits of globalisation, driven by anything from improved international communications to digital technology have brought the UK increased prosperity, rising living standards and opportunities that previous generations could only dream of.

"However, unless we face up to the challenges that coincide with these changes, such as pockets of inequality, international organised crime and the growth of Islamic extremism, there is a danger the public will turn their backs on the very opportunities which have created so many of the benefits we now enjoy."

The Prime Minister also promised new policies on health, education and social exclusion over the next month. His speech to the TUC's annual conference on 12 September will address Britain's need to adapt to the challenges posed by globalisation to security and prosperity both at home and abroad.

He believes every modern Western economy faces the same threats and Britain needs to work with other countries to develop a broad international consensus on how to grapple with these issues.

"While this sense of insecurity at home is understandable Britain is very well placed to deal with this changing landscape," his spokesman said. "If we remain focused on facing up to these challenges Britain will thrive in this period of globalisation, just as it did in previous eras."