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Wrestling blancmange

Tony Blair has chosen to speak out on the moral crisis of the welfare state but he may have raised expectations that he cannot fulfil. Roderick Nye considers the trouble ahead

By Roderick Nye   July 1997

When Tony Blair chose welfare reform as the subject for his first big speech as prime minister-outlining his “will to win” for single parents and the longterm unemployed-he was signalling a decisive break with the recent past both of his party and his country.

Labour has chosen welfare reform as its first big idea because it appeals to those who, in the words of Blair borrowed from Bill Clinton, “work hard and play by the rules.” Stating that you cannot take out what you do not put in is aimed as much at taxpayers as at clai-mants, because Blair knows…

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