Britain Is on the Move, Says Upbeat Blair ; Labour Conference Prime Minister Rallies His Party in Face of Reviving Tory Threat with List of NHS and Education Successes
McSmith, Andy, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
Britain is winning, its economy is thriving, and its public services are betting better and better, Tony Blair declared yesterday. And anyone who says the country is going to the dogs is doing the Tories' dirty work.
Mr Blair's upbeat message to the Labour Party spring conference may have take some of his listeners by surprise, after he had opened his speech with a ringing condemnation of the Madrid bombings.
The Prime Minister promised that the war against terrorism "will be won and this menace driven from the lives of decent people the world over." In his next sentence he announced: "It is great to be back in Manchester." and added: "Britain is winning. Every day its prospects get better; its hopes better able to be fulfilled. We should be proud of our country, proud of its people, proud of what together we are achieving."
He accused the Tories of trying to spread the idea that Britain is failing in the hope of getting back into office. "National pessimism is not an accident," he claimed. "It is their strategy."
He said that he wants the school leaving age to be effectively raised from 16 to 18, with teenagers either staying on in the sixth form, or taking up a modern apprenticeship or job-related training.
Despite the Prime Minister's show of optimism, Labour activists at the conference are braced for a poor showing in the elections in June to local councils and to the European Parliament. …