Political leaders deliver new year messages

Leaders set out priorities for 2008
Leaders set out priorities for 2008

Both the main political parties have promised "change" in 2008, although there is little chance of voters being given a say on the major issues facing the country.

Gordon Brown has promised a year of "real and serious change" as he continues to set out his "vision" - the need for which was used to excuse this autumn's cancelled election.

In the coming months, the government is scheduled to introduce legislation on energy, climate change, health, pensions, planning, housing, education and transport, containing policies Mr Brown claims will bring about long-term change.

As the prime minister urges voters not to judge him on an autumn beset by scandals and blunders and instead on his ability to take the decisions needed for the long-term, he vowed his government "will not shirk but instead see through changes and reforms in the vital areas for our future".

As the party leaders deliver the new year messages, David Cameron has also said the coming year will offer people the hope of real change.

Setting out the Conservatives agenda, he said the next Tory government would reform the health service to end top-down centralised bureaucracy, end the state's monopoly over new schools places, strengthen families, reform welfare and make British poverty history.

With the Conservatives consistently leading in the polls, the Tory leader said Britain feels like it is time for a change.

He told party activists: "2007 was the year that Gordon Brown was finally found out. There has been no fresh start, no big vision, nothing but serial incompetence and a series of political calculations culminating in a cancelled general election."

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have set themselves the ambitious target of derailing the government's identity card scheme in 2008.

New leader Nick Clegg vowed he would work "tirelessly" throughout 2008 against the government's "expensive, invasive" ID cards.

He said the recent slew of data loss scandals have undermined public confidence in the government's ability to manage data.

Mr Clegg said the coming months also pose the "unparalled opportunity" to break the "stale" two-party system, promising the Liberal Democrats would reach out to the "millions" of Britons that share their values.

He also attacked the Conservatives' recent attempts to hijack the progressive agenda, rubbishing their claims to support equality of opportunity.

The Lib Dem leader said: "They talk about social justice, but want to return to a Victorian-style voluntary system.

"They talk about families, but only want to help married couples. They talk about tax cuts, but don't say where they'll find the money."


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