Sunday, December 30, 2007


Gordon Brown has used his New Year message to say 2008 will be a year of "real and serious changes" in the UK.
The prime minister said combating the threat posed by terrorism was crucial and there would be "measurable changes in public services" over the next year.
The government would see through reforms in "vital areas" such as secure energy, pensions and health, he said.
In his message, Tory leader David Cameron said the Conservatives were an alternative to "hopeless" Labour.

Meanwhile, Jack Straw, one of Mr Brown's closest cabinet colleagues, has warned that the Conservative's campaign is "resonating" with the public and the government must "adapt" and show "clear progress" if it is to hold on to power.
The justice secretary told the Sunday Times that he accepted that the prime minister had faced difficulties in recent months that had to be put right.

New Year message in full

Giving his first New Year message since becoming prime minister, Mr Brown said: "With important legislation making long-term changes in energy, climate change, health, pensions, planning, housing, education and transport, 2008 will be a year of measurable changes in public services.
"A year for stepping up major long-term reform to meet challenges ranging from globalisation and global warming to the great unfinished business of social reform in our country."
Mr Brown, who became prime minister in June after Tony Blair stepped down, also said tackling the global credit problem was an "immediate priority" and a challenge for every economy.
The prime minister said the government would "continue to work with our international partners to counter the ongoing threat of global terrorism".
"We will not shirk but see through changes and reforms in the vital areas for our future - secure energy, pensions, transport, welfare, education, health and national security," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron used his New Year's message to commit himself to working as if there would be a general election in 2008, even though he believed there would not be one.
He said his party now offered a "clear and credible alternative" to what he described as a "hopeless and incompetent Labour government".
"I want 2008 to be the year in which we offer the people of this country the hope of real change, by setting out a clear and inspiring vision of what Britain will look like with a Conservative government," he said.
The Tories would offer safer communities through police reform and more prison places, as well as "the hope of a decent education for every child" with radical reforms of the school system, he said.

Mr Straw, who ran the prime minister's leadership campaign, told the Sunday Times that these Conservative messages "have been resonating" with voters and that the key for Labour was showing the public that it was making "decisions that are relevant to their futures and not just resting on our laurels".
"All periods are crucial in government - and up to two-and-a-half years before the next election, which is a long time - but for sure we have got to make clear progress in the next year and everybody understands that," he added.
Since taking over as prime minister, Mr Brown's fortunes have fluctuated.
He enjoyed initial success in the opinion polls after dealing with a number of high-profile issues, ranging from a foot-and-mouth outbreak to an attempted terror attack. But his popularity has faltered in recent months.
He was widely criticised for appearing indecisive about calling a general election and his government has been hit in recent months by revelations of alleged impropriety in Labour party funding, as well as the loss of discs containing the personal details of 25 million people.



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