TONY BLAIR will launch today the next phase of his plan to modernise Britain by warning that bad teachers and poor doctors will be rooted out to improve public services.
In his speech to the Labour conference in Blackpool, the Prime Minister will urge his party not to lose its nerve as the Government starts to confront "tough decisions" on the economy, welfare and the efficiency of the public sector.
He will place teachers and doctors in the front line of a Government move to tackle against what ministers privately call "the vested interests in the public sector".
Mr Blair will announce that heads whose schools perform badly will be sacked, but those who turn round bad schools will get extra pay.
"There is no greater injustice to a child than a poor education," he will tell the conference. "There will be rewards for good teachers but no room for bad teachers."
He will reveal that doctors in the NHS will face new checks over their performance and more rigorous selection procedures. Poor doctors may be forced to retrain.
Ministers claim the doctors are a "law unto themselves" and have too much say over treatment, their pay and bonuses and disciplinary procedure. They believe the baby deaths scandal in Bristol will persuade the public to support radical change.
Another "vested interest" on the target list is the police, although Mr Blair may not reveal his hand today. Ministers are worried that efficiency levels of different forces vary widely and believe chief constables have too much power.
Although Mr Blair will insist that the public sector "will be modernised according to our principles and values", one ally said last night: "There will have to be sacrifices, and there will be squeals of pain."
The speech marks an important change of gear by Mr Blair, who believes the Government is entering a critical mid-term phase after taking some of its easier decisions in its first 17 months in office.
"It's time to bite the bullet," one aide said.
Mr Blair will warn his party that the reforms will attract "opposition and controversy" but that "radical change never came without a struggle".
Admitting that his Government may become unpopular as a result, he will say it is better to be unpopular than wrong. We need to show the same resolution changing the country as we did in changing the Labour Party. …