“Press on with modernisation or fail” – Tony Blair’s message to his party’s annual conference. The British prime minister told Labour delegates in Brighton that they would need to continue to adapt to a rapidly changing world if the party was to prosper in the years ahead. His speech was steeped in the language of traditional Labour values such as commitment to social justice and equal opportunities.
But much of it emphasised the need to embrace globalisation and seize what it had to offer. As expected, there was a glowing tribute to his finance minister and favourite to succeed him – Gordon Brown. “There is only one government since the war that has cut unemployment, created 2 million more jobs, had eight years of growth without recession and halved interest rates from the previous government and cut waiting lists in hospitals, improved cancer and heart care, achieved the best ever school results, halved the number of failing schools, seen a fivefold increase in the best ones, achieved record numbers of police, and cut crime. Only one chancellor to have delivered that record – this one.” Blair made no reference to speculation about when he might step down to give Gordon Brown time to make his mark as leader before the next general election.