BLACKPOOL, England -- Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock presented himself to British voters yesterday as prime-minister-in-waiting, eager for power at home and influence abroad.
"The day is coming," said Mr. Kinnock, whose party has held a consistent lead in the polls throughout this year. "We are fit and ready not just to win but to govern."
His hourlong speech -- a performance that put program above passion -- received a thunderous reception.
It was targeted beyond his immediate audience, attending the party's annual conference here, to the nation and world at large, promising that a Labor government would create a country both caring and capable and would be a reliable partner in the "new world order."
He denounced Iraq's Saddam Hussein in language that could have been borrowed straight from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
"The pressure must be sustained," he said. "It must be made clear to the Iraqi dictator that not only does he not have any friend anywhere now, but that he can look forward to no accommodation from any part of the world unless and until he withdraws unconditionally from Kuwait." Mr. Kinnock urged that sanctions be given "the longest possible time" to work.
And in an unusual and significant trans-Atlantic gesture from a Labor leader, he endorsed President Bush's vision of a "new world struggling to be born."
"No one should found all their hopes -- still less their policies -- upon it," he said. "It could yet be a house built on sand. But what everyone should do is open their minds to the possibility that it can be a firmly based and enduring global security structure and that it is worth striving for."
He pledged, "We shall work for those new security structures and that new world order because it is natural to us and necessary for our country and our world."
On domestic issues, he charged Mrs. Thatcher's Conservative government with overseeing the deterioration of the economy, the education system, the welfare society and the environment.
He said the Thatcher government, during its 11 years in office, had increased inflation from 7.4 percent to 10.6 percent and interest rates from 14 percent to 15 percent and had turned the balance of payments from a balance in 1979 to a $32 billion deficit.
"In terms of inflation, unemployment, balance of payments, growth, interest rates, investment, housing starts, savings, tax burden, world trade share, home market share and so many other performance indicators, the Tories are not even back to square one after 11 years," he said.
To the business community, he promised reduced interest rates, credit controls and restrictions on bank borrowing, and negotiated entry of the pound into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.