Modernise or die, Blair tells partners

Socialist congress: Prime Minister to call for labour flexibility

Tony Blair will today stake out a powerful claim to lead a European revival calling on Socialist leaders across Europe to "modernise or die".

Speaking at the Congress of European Socialists, in the Swedish city of Malmo, Mr Blair will challenge his partners to abandon the "statist" policies of the old left or risk losing the trust of European citizens.

He will tell other leaders: "Our task is not to go on fighting old battles but to show that there is a third way. A way of labour market flexibility and security in a world of change."

He will warn: "We have no more divine right to govern than the parties we oppose."

The Prime Minister will also speak bluntly to fellow Europeans about his deep disillusionment with European policy-making after just one month in office. In an attack which will shake several of the architects of the European Union still in power, Mr Blair will tell them institutions they were constructing were "impossibly remote from the people".

The criticism comes as EU heads of state finalise details for a new treaty on EU reform, to be signed in under two weeks in Amsterdam.

Wim Kok, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, which holds the EU presidency, held out hope yesterday that consensus on the shape of the new treaty was now within reach. But Mr Blair will tell the Socialists today: "We must stop talking about European theology and start doing things from which real people see real benefits.

"Am I satisfied with Europe? Frankly, no."

The Prime Minister's address will be viewed in some quarters of Continental Europe as an unwarranted piece of lecturing by one of the Union's newest leaders. However, riding high on a wave of popularity after his landslide victory, Mr Blair's credentials as "a winner" have won him seemingly boundless goodwill.

Mr Blair clearly chose the Socialist Congress as the moment to try to take the reins in Europe at a time when a Socialist revival is being widely predicted. Lionel Jospin was swept to power as the new French Socialist Prime Minister this week.

Wary of much of the old Labour thinking still present in Mr Jospin's discourse, Mr Blair will take the chance to reject what he believes are "rigidities" and "inflexibilities" in favour of a Europe geared to "employability and job flexibility".

Much of the agenda matches New Labour economic policy at home. Mr Blair believes he is now in a position to sell his modernising message abroad, and will attempt to persuade other Europeans that their own countries are already moving towards his radical approach.

"Parties which seize this opportunity will be the parties of the future," will be his message.

The Prime Minister is also expected to admit that the previous Conservative government were correct in advocating labour market flexibility and an end to employment red tape. He will tell the conference: "The right got a lot wrong, but they were right about the need for flexible labour markets. What they got wrong was the failure to equip people with skills to adapt to change and they refused to see the need for minimum standards in the workforce."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Recruitment Genius: Provisioning Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum