LABOUR'S Policy Forum, which met last weekend in Exeter, was entirely out of touch with the feeling in the party and in the unions. The forum's decisions form the basis for the discussion at the party's conference.
The leadership was forced by the mood of disillusion with New Labour to make some concessions. But Blair's coterie defeated almost all efforts to put more left wing policies on the agenda.
Some 140 delegates were present, with 35 votes needed to get a "minority position" advanced to the conference. The "core" left vote was 15 and most left motions gained between 15 and 28 votes. A motion against vouchers and dispersal for asylum seekers won 15 votes. The leadership accepted a motion from TGWU leader Bill Morris to "monitor" the voucher scheme.
Motions to rule out London tube privatisation and bring rail back into public ownership were overwhelmingly defeated. Union leaders at the forum frequently voted against the policies of their unions and in support of Blair.
NEW Labour's flagship job scheme, the New Deal, has been criticised by a government report. It says the 5.2 billion scheme needs independent scrutiny to check it is worth the money. The report also worried over the "precarious and unsustained jobs" available on the New Deal.
HUNDREDS of people protested outside the top secret radar base at Fylingdales in north Yorkshire on Saturday. The base is due to be part of the US's planned "Star Wars" anti-missile system, which threatens a new nuclear arms race. The system failed an important test last week, but US president Bill Clinton could still give the $60 billion scheme the go-ahead this summer.