March 4, 1998
Blair: councils must modernise
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is warning councillors
and local government officials that if they fail to
modernise, some of their powers could be given to
businesses and voluntary organisations. Mr Blair says
too many local authorities are mediocre, and there is a
lack of coherence in some local services. Tony
Blair outlines his "deal" with local councils
(38" This message applies equally to
council's who pay little heed to Agenda 21 objectives.
says those councils which are prepared to change could
be given improved powers, but those who were not could
see their role diminished. Mr Blair took the unusual
step of outlining his ideas in a pamphlet for the centre-left
think tank the Institute of Public Policy Research.
He puts forward the idea of directly elected mayors and
referendums on important local issues.
There would also be a tough new code of
conduct for councillors. Local
authority leaders, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today
Programme, give their reaction to the proposals
Mr Blair warned: "If you accept this challenge, you
will not find us wanting. "You can look forward to
an enhanced role and new powers. Your contribution will
be recognised, your status enhanced. "If you
are unwilling or unable to work to the modern agenda
then the Government will have to look to other partners
to take on your role."
for Blair's plan
mayors and local referendums are ideas formerly rejected
by chairman of the local government Association, Sir
Jeremy Beecham. He said he was unhappy about the Prime
Minister's indication that he was willing to involve
business in local government.
do need a more open democracy at all levels in our
country," he said. "But we need people
who are accountable to the electorate and business, for
all its virtues, is not accountable to the public."
However, businesses operate to make a profit for their
investors, not pursue hidden agendas. The
ratepayer is the investor in this case. We are
sure investors would not want their money wasted
February 8, 1998
Blair: confident at Labour conference
The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, appeared happy, making
his first speech after his four-day stay with President
Clinton. Addressing the Labour faithful, he
ran through a list of his achievements, playing the
crowd alternately for laughs and applause.
beneath the jokey, relaxed style, Mr Blair's message to
the local government conference was clear -
modernisation remains essential. He warned those who
oppose reform of the health service and the benefits
system that failure do do so would leave these services
vulnerable to more drastic attack by future right-wing
purpose of reform and change is not to obliterate basic
value, it's to make them live again," he said.
"That's the choice - it's between reform and change
or obliteration of the basic values in which we
believe." The speech emphasised the Prime
Minister's promise to ensure corruption and malpractice
are stamped out of local
will publish proposals, based on Lord
Nolan's report on conduct in local government, for a
new framework on standards in local authorities. Tony
Blair: "One strike and you are out"
stamp out corruption
council will have to introduce its own code of conduct
on a national model. Every council in its code will need
to include provisions for the investigation of
malpractice. The investigations will be independent.
They will be swift, they will be searching and their
findings will be put into place.
know corruption is not widespread, we all know
that. That's precisely why one case is one too
many. For us in the Labour Party, it's one strike and
your'e out and that's how it should be." his
gained long applause but the clapping was loudest in
Scarborough when Mr Blair promised to "end the
absurd situation where you've got hereditary peers
sitting in the House of Lords."
the Prime Minister became more evangelical as he wound
up his speech and made his case for continued reform,
not just of the Labour party and councils but of the
whole country. He paid tribute to the
modernisation process begun by Neil Kinnock and
continued by John Smith's introduction of one member,
changed the Labour party but we have to change the
country," he said. "It's a far bigger thing to
do and its also far more important but I know it is
within our capacity to be great again. "This is a
country where in the minds of each of those young people
going through school today there is an enormous
potential to innovate and do good and be decent
responsible members of society.
task is take the enormous potential of people and
liberate it and we can do it. "I am in the
Labour party because in the end I believe there is such
a thing as society and we have an obligation to other
people as well as ourselves. I want to make that basic
principle live again today."
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