The Sketch: We won't miss Tony. After all, he is going to 'own the future'

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The Independent Online

The magic has faded but the logic is there. It's probably enough in the short term, to carry him through to 1 May 2007 (the date they've agreed, surely?).Logic certainly isn't enough for the long term - the dutiful applause he got will only carry him through one more conference, no more than one.

Incidentally, Gordon has neither magic nor logic, just brute rhetorical force, so I'm going to miss our subtle and flexible friend when his time is up.

But first, for cynics, pessimists and reactionaries, you may care to add a few phrases to your Big Book of Blair. We have a new state or society every year. We're off the "big state" in favour of - not the "enabling state" or the "opportunity state" - but the "strategic state".

Don't ask me, how should I know? In addition, Britain is going to "lock horns with modernity", most often by going back to the 1950s. This is how "we" (are you part of that "we"?) will "own the future". Our Prime Minister does have the ability, in all his luciferian effulgence, to cast a chilling shadow, from time to time. His values are "universal human values", his party is the "political wing of the British people" and he wants to "own the future".

His shadowy side appeared more than once, particularly in his passage on the justice system. "A complete change of thinking," he promised, or demanded. That, too, was back to the 1950s - police will be given the power to take offenders round the back of the station for a clip round the ear. That's what a "radical extension of summary powers" means, isn't it? It won't be personal violence but an £80 fine issued and collected by a public servant without judge or jury

We are also to have very powerful social service with "lead professionals" holding budgets of £100,000 per family per year - I think this means each problem family will have its own commissar. There will be wraparound child care; perhaps we'll have enter into a leaseback deal to see our children. He says so much it's hard to know what he means. "I will never allow the NHS to charge for treatment." Is he abolishing charges for prescriptions, eye tests, and dentistry? Or does "I will never allow the NHS to charge for treatment" mean something else? The thing with Tony is each word is unreliable (it means whatever he wants it to), but the whole paragraph provides a guide to his intentions. He should keep away from one-sentence paragraphs like "I will never allow the NHS to charge for treatment."

But his logic won in the end; how, step by step, they would marginalise opponents, and his changes would become irreversible, how they'd "own the future". We won't miss him after all; he will be with us for ever.