LETTER: Labour's new-found sanity

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ALAN Watkins provides an excellent illustration of the conservatism of those opposing the emerging agenda of New Labour ("Labour's unswerving commitment to do not very much", 10 December). In his complaint that New Labour is not planning to turn the clock back he is absolutely correct: Tony Blair is constructing a post-Thatcherite agenda for a Britain about to enter the 21st century, not seeking to recreate a world that is long since past.

Mr Watkins criticises the Labour Party for being "too depressingly sane and cautious" because it has not made a specific promise to renationalise the railways. However, the new-found sanity of New Labour, brought about by the modernisation of the party, has produced not caution but a genuinely reformist programme relevant to the needs of ordinary people.

Much is made of the supposed "radical" agenda of the Liberal Democrats, but what does their renationalisation pledge really amount to? The British people are not interested in arcane arguments about the ownership of industries. What matters is serious investment in our transport network. New Labour recognises that dogmatically retaining the railways in the public sector will simply slow their decline. Sufficient funds for serious investment will only be found through Labour's proposed public-private initiatives.

The Labour Party is no longer content to be a pressure group able to indulge in petty, ideological point-scoring. It is a responsible political party ready to govern in the national interest. When the same can be said of the Liberal Democrats, then they too will deserve people's votes.

Spencer Livermore

London N4