Statistics are no substitute for political vision

Share
Related Topics

The hyperbole that preceded the Prime Minister's speech in Chatham yesterday led us to believe that Mr Blair would deliver a bold blueprint for Labour's forthcoming manifesto. There was also a frisson of anticipation that he would take the opportunity afforded by the Chancellor's absence to undermine further his rival's claims to the leadership. But, in the end, Mr Blair did neither.

The hyperbole that preceded the Prime Minister's speech in Chatham yesterday led us to believe that Mr Blair would deliver a bold blueprint for Labour's forthcoming manifesto. There was also a frisson of anticipation that he would take the opportunity afforded by the Chancellor's absence to undermine further his rival's claims to the leadership. But, in the end, Mr Blair did neither.

The Prime Minister's speech was heavy in statistics (over which Mr Blair noticeably stumbled, and then joked about) but distinctly light on vision. There has been much talk of a "radical" Labour third term from Number 10, but Mr Blair provided precious little indication yesterday of how this will be achieved. His presentation of the need for public service reform was flat and unenthusiastic. What the speech demonstrated was that Mr Blair intends to fight the forthcoming election in the same way as he has fought the previous two - with caution. The theme he returned to more than any other yesterday was the economic stability that Labour has delivered.

This is a shrewd political tactic, because stressing economic competence in a campaign alienates as few people as possible. But it does not bode well for the future of the NHS and our schools, which, despite constant tinkering, are still not performing adequately. And it raises questions about the route-map for Mr Blair's third term. He has said that he will not fight a fourth term, which means he will have to stand down at some point in the next four years. That does not leave much time to accomplish the wholesale reforms he has promised.

The phrase "unremittingly New Labour", which appeared more than once in the speech, is generally interpreted as a sideswipe at Gordon Brown and his "old Labour" appeal. But the effect of this barb was considerably reduced by Mr Blair's continued reference to the success of the economy, the credit for which belongs to the Chancellor.

The Prime Minister informed us yesterday, in his by now familiar way, that "there is much still to do". That is true, but Mr Blair is yet to make a convincing case that he can accomplish his aims in a third term.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent Uncapped Commission Structure: ...

Sales Executive, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting entertainment comp...

Retail Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Ecommerce/Retail/E...

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz