Jagland stays Labour's centrist course

Labour Party leader Thorbjørn Jagland opened his party's convention with an attack on rich Norwegians, especially those who have been involved in questionable stock transactions or complained of their tax burden.

But behind such rhetoric was a broad message to party supporters that Norway must keep pace with global capitalism. He showed no willingness to compromise on an initiative backed by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to partially privatise Statoil to make it more competitive internationally. Likewise, he steered a hard line supporting proposals to reopen Norway's debate on European Union membership and to transfer the administration of hospitals from local authorities to the state. All three issues - Statoil, the EU and hospitals - have divided the party this year.