The themes of Tony Blair's speech to the Labour Party conference yesterday had been widely disseminated in advance to the media by Downing Street, so there were no surprises as to content when he spoke. But such briefing cannot convey the feeling and passion that will be behind the words. These qualities were in abudant evidence when Mr Blair spoke to the Labour Party members; he showed total conviction in the correctness of the course that Britain is taking with her allies against the terrorist threat and he conveyed in powerful language how a better world can be built on the ruins of September 11. His vision of a community of nations with a common purpose is, of course, an idealistic one – but we should not complain that after six tough years in office Tony Blair retains his idealism. The problem of creating such a community is twofold. First, an unlikely consortium of countries has been brought together in the wake of appalling acts of terrorism; it is natural for nations, as for people, to find strength and safety in numbers in the face of a crisis, but when the immediate danger appears to be over they tend to drift apart.

Second, the binding together of a community in the sense envisaged by Mr Blair is a long process and the task of transition to a permanent grouping with common aims and commitment to their implementation is an even longer one. I do not for a moment suppose that the prime minister has not taken these difficulties into account but I cannot help thinking that a little admixure of realism to his idealism would be wise when he talks about his vision for the future.

Ray Fleming
Giuliani at the UN
The autumn meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations usually lasts for three months and is a somnolent affair since each of the 189 member states of the UN is entitled to have its say at whatever length it likes. But on Monday afternoon no one nodded off because Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York, was on the podium delivering some brisk home truths to his audience.

The UN's relationship with New York City is an uneasy one and ”hizonner” Giuliani was the first mayor to be invited to appear at the General Assembly since Mayor Vincent Impellitteri spoke at the openng of the UN building in 1952.

It was an appropriate gesture to invite him and he did not waste the opportunity he had been given. Dispensing with diplomatic niceties he said that all nations had to make a choice between ”civilisation and the terrorists” and he went on to warn against the usuual UN reaction to a problem, to call for an investigation and report. There was no need for that, he said: ”The evidence of terrorism, brutality and inhumanity is lying beneath the rubble of the World Trade Centre less than two miles from where we meet today.” And in another passage Mr Giuliani warned againt appeasement, citing the case of Neville Chamberlain who thought that by negotiating with Adolph Hitler he had achieved peace in his time: ”At the cost of millions of lives,” said the mayor, ” we learnt that words alone are not enough to guarantee peace. It is action, alone, that counts.”