You must love my Dome, orders Mandelson

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The Independent Online
THE Millennium Dome was being launched on a wave of superlatives last night as Peter Mandelson vied with the Prime Minister to promote interest in today's first-instalment announcement of contents.

"The Millennium is a meeting point in history," the Minister without Portfolio said in a press release, "a unifying opportunity for people to come together from all backgrounds and all parts of the United Kingdom. The point at which Britain, with its proud past, meets Britain, with new confidence in the future. The Dome will be a Dome of the Future -- a Dome of exploration, discovery and revelation. It will be our Dome - a shared experience, with people setting aside differences and divisions to unite in Britain's celebration, unique in the world, of the new Millennium.

"The Dome will be like a giant mirror for the nation. The reflection I want to see is of a nation intensely proud of its past and its achievements, its ingenuity and creativity, its bravery and its sense of justice and fair play. But more than that, I want the Dome to capture the spirit of modern Britain - a nation that is confident, excited, impatient for the future. A nation that wants to move forward together, gathering up our past to address our future, in common purpose."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that Mr Blair would be saying this morning - when he unveils the contents list for the first seven "modules" of the Dome, that once people saw what it would contain, there would be a "huge bandwagon" of support for it.

Mr Blair was planning to say that Britain was a place of daring and striving for excellence, leading the world in its creativity, and it should, therefore, "shout about it".

The Dome would be a celebration of the "best of British"; good for business and good for tourism and Britain's standing in the world, with people from around the world visiting the Dome and having "the time of their lives".

The Prime Minister and Mr Mandelson were also at pains to dispel three "myths" at present surrounding the Dome Project. "First, the Millennium Experience is not using pounds 750 million of taxpayers' money," Mr Mandelson's press release said. "It is a public-private partnership. pounds 399m of lottery money invested by the Millennium Commission will be balanced by well over pounds 300m in private sector sponsorship and commercial income.