As the country comes to terms with another four or five years of Labour government, Neil Connor talked to new Defence Secretary John Reid about how the party can maintain its momentum...
Last week's General Election almost seemed like a mere distraction for the Government, such was the relative ease with which it secured an historic third term in power.
It was felt that much of the Labour campaign was about talking up the chances of a Tory victory to ensure that electoral complacency did not let the opposition in through the back door.
But after eight years in office, why did the British people back Labour for a third term?
Had Tony Blair's Government made that much of a positive impact on British society? Or was it just that the Conservative and Liberal Democrat alternatives were that unbearable?
And now that Labour has been given a mandate to carry on for another term, will the Government fill the time by finishing off a half-completed job, or is it just running out of steam?
According to Dr John Reid, the new Secretary of State for Defence, the Government is in search of perfection in its third term.
With the welfare state particularly, he said Labour had embarked on a massive programme of transforming opportunities and choice for people.
Standards of choice, he said, were changing. Previously, choice was determined by how much cash you had to spend. Now, the Government would use the next five years to ensure that choice was simply about being a citizen.
We were getting deep into Labour philosophy, and after being asked whether I was carrying out a politics PhD project, Dr Reid started to open up about the great New Labour challenge to carve its place in history.
In a nutshell, the Government creates economic stability; this stability ensures that social justice can take place as everyone has a job; full employment means the Government generates cash which can be pumped into public services.
According to Dr Reid, Labour is on the cusp of channelling these funds into public services over the next five years.
"I love talking about philosophy and I am passionate about explaining why another five years is so important to us," he said.
"We now have to focus on public services as we are four years through a ten-year strategy.
"Our philosophy is built around having a strong economy with low inflation and high employment.
"A stable economy is crucial because it means we are no longer paying off debts and we have more money to spend on public services.
"In this environment we can introduce reforms for social justice, such as a guaranteed minimum wage.
"But over the next five years it is the renewal of the welfare state which we have to focus on so that it becomes more relevant to people."
The Defence Secretary is obviously passionate about the welfare state, particularly given his last portfolio.
"The NHS is the greatest gift the British people have given to the British people," he said.
Dr Reid admits the party still has a long way to go with "embedding our improvements" in public services.
But, he said: "New Labour is a human organisation and we all make mistakes".
Not only human, but organic, according to the Defence Secretary, and this is what is driving the party through its long tenure in office.
"In order to change the country, we had to change ourselves," he said.
"We did that after the election defeat in 1983. We reappraised every single part of our policy and we became New Labour.
" That process has not stopped, even after we became the Government in 1997.
"People's expectations have increased and for this election manifesto we have 277 new ideas. If we do not put them into practice, I am sure we will be held to account."