28/11/2003

Opposition parties dismiss Labour's 'Big Conversation'

The Opposition parties have slammed the government's 'Big Conversation' campaign, launched today, as a "very public admission of failure".

Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the campaign during a speech at Newport, south Wales, where he called for an "honest, serious debate about the future".

Labour also published a 77-page dossier on the big issues facing the country which, it said, was designed to open up government to voters in the biggest consultation of its type.

However, speaking in response to the launch, Co-chairman of the Conservative Party, Dr Liam Fox MP, said: “Tony Blair seems to want to be anywhere but Parliament at the present time, which is understandable as he is being beaten up by Michael Howard and set upon by his own backbenchers.

“Voters don’t want a conversation with Tony Blair they want an explanation from him – they want to know why their taxes have gone up and why they have not had the delivery on health, education, pensions or transport that they were promised.

“This is another example of the government trying to detract attention from their failures. This kind of spin and gimmick will not fool the voters any longer. The Prime Minister having been in government for six-and-a-half years has no solutions and does not even know what the problems are."

The Lib Dems were also dismissive of the plan, with Liberal Democrat Party Chair, Matthew Taylor, saying that the public's response to the campaign would have no impact whatsoever on government policy – irrespective of the scale of dissent.

He said: "Labour have been ignoring people for years now. This simply makes it official. Email your views, but everyone knows that from foundation hospitals to war in Iraq and tuition fees, Labour doesn’t listen.

"Tony Blair has already said there’s no reverse gear, so how can he respond to what he hears?"

(gmcg)

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