Published: 17/02/2005, Volume II5, No. 5943 Page 14

The media was out in force to witness what the Daily Telegraph described as Labour's 'razzamatazz' tour of marginal constituencies on Friday.

Prime minister Tony Blair outlined the party's six manifesto pledges, in effect opening a general election campaign expected to last almost 12 weeks. Broadcast and print media alike were braced for boredom.

Staff at Kettering General Hospital heard Mr Blair unveil the pledge on health: 'Your family treated faster and better'.

This was one of several phrases which election supremo and former health secretary Alan Milburn later defended in an interview with the BBC as 'not meaningless' and 'pretty measurable'.

The small print on the card supports this.

Its detail - 'no-one waiting more than 18 weeks for hospital treatment, with choice over where and when' - may not be brand new, but for the managers charged to deliver it, the target looks all too measurable.