Making what was widely believed to be his final speech to the Labour Party as leader, Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday made a last-ditch attempt to persuade his colleagues that he was the best man to lead them into next year’s general election wooing potential contenders for leadership by praising them individually.
Mr. Brown, who was addressing the party’s annual conference in Brighton, appealed to the delegates and the voters to keep trust in him even as Labour further slumped in the polls with one survey, ironically, suggesting that its only chance to avert a defeat was to replace him with a more charismatic leader.
Earlier, in an emotionally charged introduction, his wife Sarah Brown made a pitch for him to be given another chance saying that he “loves you and will always put you first”.
“He’s not a saint, he’s messy, he’s noisy but he gets up every morning thinking about his country,” she said.
Mr. Brown’s hour-long speech, which got him a standing ovation, read like an election manifesto loaded with fighting rhetoric and promises. Seeking to raise the party’s morale, he brushed aside predictions of a looming electoral disaster telling delegates that Labour had “changed the world before” and was capable of changing it again.
“We must fight to win,” he said.
To the voters, Mr. Brown’s message was that they would be making the biggest mistake of their lives if they chose the “status quo-ist” and “isolationist” Tories over a “progressive” and “pro-poor” Labour. He accused the Tories of “walking away” from the economic crisis while his government got down to saving millions of jobs and businesses. The Tories had been “consistently wrong” on every major issue affecting the people, he said.
Mr. Brown promised a crackdown on regressive banking practices declaring that financial markets could not be allowed to operate without regulation. Markets needed “morals”, he said.
Other pledges included a raft of family-friendly policies, electoral reforms and a wholesale reform of the House of Lords.