What Blair's speech means for Britain... and for Gordon Brown

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Indy Politics

The Prime Minister's speech contained fewer headline-grabbing announcements than at previous Labour Party conferences and avoided grandiose claims about creating a new world order. His main message to his own party was that it must continue to change to keep pace with a fast-changing global economy -and could lose power if it fails to do so.

Mr Blair said: "We have to change again. Not step back from New Labour but step up to a new mark a changing world is setting for us. The pace of change can either overwhelm us, or make our lives better and our country stronger. What we can't do is pretend it is not happening.

"In the era of rapid globalisation, there is no mystery about what works: an open, liberal economy, prepared constantly to change to remain competitive."

Analysis: Mr Blair believes that Labour can still become the natural party of government - but only if sticks with his "permanent revolution" strategy.

The message also reflects the private fears of the Blairite supporters that Gordon Brown would not be as bold on reform as the party leader, even though he signed up to the New Labour brand in his conference speech on Monday.

BLAIR'S FUTURE

By listing the challenges ahead, Mr Blair made it clear that he wanted to remain Prime Minister for another three years. Portraying himself as older and wiser after eight years in power, he said: "Nations aren't built by dreamers. They rise by the patient courage of the change-maker. That's what we have been in New Labour. The change-makers."

Analysis: A barely coded message that Gordon Brown, the prime minister-in-waiting, would have to keep waiting for quite a while longer. This threatens a new outbreak of war between their rival camps if Mr Blair does not give a clear timetable for his departure at next year's Labour conference.

REFORM

"Every time I've ever introduced a reform in government, I wish in retrospect I had gone further."

Analysis: A reminder that he thinks he still has a lot to do - and a hint that he will be more ruthless in forcing through more reforms before he departs.

CRIME

"We are trying to fight 21st-century crime - anti-social behaviour, drug-dealing, binge-drinking, organised crime - with 19th-century methods. The whole of our system starts from the proposition that its duty is to protect the innocent from being wrongly convicted ...

"But surely our primary duty should be to allow law-abiding people to live in safety. It means a complete change of thinking. It doesn't mean abandoning human rights. It means deciding who comes first."

Analysis: Another piece of unfinished business. Mr Blair is frustrated that the criminal justice system remains largely unreformed after eight years of trying and wants to tilt the balance away from the criminal before he leaves office.

LONDON BOMBINGS

"These terrorists do not, never have and never will represent the decent, humane and principled faith of Islam ... But we need to make it clear. When people come to our country, they have and should have the full rights we believe in.

"There should be no second-class citizens in Britain. But citizenship comes with a duty: to give loyalty to our nation, its values and our way of life. If people have a grievance, politics is the answer. Not terror."

Analysis: An acknowledgement that one of the biggest challenges facing the present Government - and one of its failures to date - is to draw disaffected young Muslims into mainstream British society.

IRAQ

"The way to stop the innocent dying is not to retreat, to withdraw, to hand these people over to the religious fanatics or relics of Saddam, but to stand up for their right to decide their government in the democratic way the British people do."

Analysis: Mr Blair rebuffed calls for British troops to pull out from Iraq. They will stay until the Iraqi security forces are strong enough to take over.

EDUCATION

"The greatest injustice is when good education is the preserve of the privileged. We are changing that ... but we haven't decisively altered the balance of advantage away from background to merit. The wealth of your parents is still the biggest decider of your future."

Analysis: Mr Blair is still motivated by his desire to leave behind a first-class-education system for all. He will push hard for more city academy schools despite criticism that their benefits are not yet proven.

PENSIONS

The Government will publish plans for reform next year after considering the Turner Commission's report in December. "There will be a proper basic state pension and alongside it, because in the modern world the state cannot provide it all, a simple and easy way for people to save and to reap the rewards of their savings."

Analysis: Mr Blair wants to resolve one of the thorniest issues in his in-tray before he leaves Number 10. Mr Brown wants to play it long.

Buzzwords

Change 24

Britain 24

Future 19

Values 13

Terrorism/ terrorists 11

Labour 11

Reform 9

New Labour 8

Families 8

Choice 7

Iraq 7

Leadership 4

Education 4

Europe 3

Binge-drinking 2

Global warming 2

United 2

iPod 1

Chancellor 1

Rift 0

Resign 0

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