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On 2nd May, 1997, the Tony Blair led the Labour Party to the first election victory over the Conservatives for 18 years. This was a landslide victory, the worst performance by the Conservatives for over 90 years, and a popular call for change by the people of the UK. The country was desperate for something different. There was such a feeling of relief, of new optimism, a belief that things would be better now.

History will judge whether the New Labour experiment was a missed opportunity. As time passes, ita€™s inevitable that more and more people become disillusioned with the status quo, with the fact that perhaps life isna€™t as different as theya€™d hoped for. The Blair government became side-tracked, embroiled in World affairs that with hindsight might best have been avoided, and yet in their finer hours I believe they did make changes that improved many peoplesa€™ lives.

My politics aside, however, I sense even greater hope and optimism in the United States. The people of this country are ready to cast aside the previous leader and look ahead to a change for the better. The inauguration of Barack Obama carries so much more significance than just a change of president, more than the change of administration from one party to another. 40 years after the civil rights movement, the dreams of many who never thought theya€™d live to see the day will come true. I still remember the feeling of a new beginning from that day back in 1997. There are millions of people for whom today must feel a thousand times more powerful.

Can we look forward to a new beginning both in the United States and throughout the World? I hope the answer is, a€oeYes, We Can.a€