Scottish sceptics won over by Blair

Tony Blair appealed to a suspicious Scottish Labour Party Conference yesterday to "have faith in New Labour" and work for a government that would "make a difference" to the lives of everyone.

Delegates to the party conference in Inverness largely gave him the benefit of the doubt after a wide-ranging keynote speech in which he denounced John Major's administration as "a government in a state of decay".

A senior Westminster party insider said after a standing ovation for the Labour leader: "This is the toughest Labour audience you can find - and he won them over." The Scottish party has been notoriously most resistant to the Blair modernisation programme.

But the Labour leader tugged delegates' emotions in his opening paragraph, saying: "Next week will be the first anniversary of the killings in Dunblane. The horror of what happened still stops me in my tracks whenever I think about it. I will never forget standing in that gym. I will never forget the parents of those children, their bravery, their dignity and their terrible loss.

"We took action in Parliament to limit handguns. But not enough. And after the 1st of May, if elected, we will return to this issue. And this time there will be a free vote to ban all handguns."

Recalling that in 1964 Harold Wilson launched his general- election campaign in Inverness with an historic declaration that Labour set up a Highlands and Islands Development Board, he added: "Labour fulfilled that promise.

"This time I make a larger promise. We will legislate for a Scottish Parliament in the first year of a new Labour government. To deliver that promise, to ensure there is no doubt about our mandate from the Scottish people, we will hold a referendum as soon as possible after coming to office."

The Labour leader pledged: "I will be here campaigning for a yes vote in that referendum. There will be two questions. I will be campaigning for two yes answers.

"That Scottish Parliament can deliver better services for the people of Scotland. We will be turning back the tide of the centralised state and sharing power with the people."

The Labour leader also addressed the SNP and the Tories, arguing: "You both say there are only two options: status quo or separation; no change or destruction of the United Kingdom. I say that is an affront to our wit, intelligence and history. There is a better way. It is devolution and we will take it."

Mr Blair's main message to doubting delegates was: "There is nothing that makes me more angry than when people say there's no difference between the parties. That we're all the same. In Scotland this charge is especially absurd."

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Data Analyst - London - £38,000

£30000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Data Analyst - Lon...

Norwegian Speaking Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive OTE: SThree: Progressive in Manchester...

IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

£20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

Learning Support Assistants-Nantwich area

£8 - £9 per hour: Randstad Education Chester: We are currently recruiting for ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London