21 August 2000
Oskar Lafontaine, the former German finance minister dubbed "the most dangerous man in Europe" by The Sun newspaper, has launched a scathing attack on Tony Blair and New Labour.
In a book to be published next month, Mr Lafontaine claims Mr Blair misled British voters at the last general election and increased taxes on the poor.
The former leader of Germany's Social Democratic Party has also attacked the state of the NHS and the UK's record on rail safety and child poverty.
Mr Lafontaine's attack on all things Blairite, including Labour's "media-driven" style, comes in a new English language version of his book The Heart Beats on the Left.
The book, which has a specially written preface for British readers, attacks Mr Blair's leadership and claims he has failed to meet pledges offered when in opposition.
Mr Lafontaine, ousted by Gerhard Schröder as leader of the SPD, resigned from the German government after clashing with the Chancellor in March 1999.
In his book, he accuses Labour of failing to live up to its pre-election promises and offers a withering assessment of Mr Blair's attempts to modernise his party. He writes: "Whatever the Blair administration does is labelled 'New This' and 'Modern That' and is then ready to be packaged and sold ... maybe this sort of politics is inevitable in our media-driven society but it is a sort of politics to which I can find no access nor do I wish to do so.
"What policies will Tony Blair's government adopt? Will they continue to call it 'modernisation' when considerations of profitability are allowed to take precedence over a commitment to human values and solidarity?
"A policy of tax-dumping which always leaves the workers worse off cannot seriously be reconciled with the policies of a government which calls itself social-democratic."
Mr Lafontaine also points to a study showing that more than four million children in Britain live in poverty and 20 per cent of youngsters live in households without a regular income.