The most revealing part of Tony Blair’s speech to the Labour party conference was when he said, ‘modern life is being perpetually stressed out. You can do more, travel more, consume more, live longer but nothing stops still. It’s always changing.’ Possibly some psychoanalyst could tell us that it is the cry of a leader wanting to be put out of his misery. At any rate, it is a symptom of a prime minister whose desire for a third term is tempered by exhaustion of mind and body.
To his credit, however, Tony Blair’s hour at the lectern was not entirely wasted, as it has been in previous years, with vague platitudes. His Sovietesque ‘ten-point plan’ openly forms the basis of the party’s next manifesto. We are grateful for this insight into a Labour third term even if it provides little in the way of comfort.
On close examination, the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan reads less like a bold statement of original political ideas than an attempt to mitigate some of the most glaring policy disasters of his first term. Take his promise to ‘design a pension system with the basic state pension at its core’. What about his much-f