Hasan Suroor

LONDON: Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday left the Opposition guessing about his plans for an early general election even as speculation persisted that he might call one as early next month or November, catching the Tories napping.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Labour Party at the seaside resort of Bournemouth — his first speech to the party conference as Prime Minister —Mr. Gordon refused to declare his hand, not mentioning the elections even once.

Instead, he laid out his “vision” for another 10 years of Labour Party rule declaring: “I will not let you down.” Describing himself as a “conviction politician” he promised “more British jobs for British workers” in what was seen as a response to criticism that British jobs were being outsourced to India and China, and that immigrants were taking away local jobs.

Mr. Brown also pledged to improve Britain’s creaking public services and strengthen British economy which has been rattled by the near-collapse of one of the country’s leading banks, Northern Rock. On law and order which has emerged as a major issue in British politics, he said: “My answer to crime and disorder — our policy — is to both punish and prevent.”

Mr. Brown got a standing ovation from delegates when he spoke of the “challenges” his government had faced since coming to power three months ago and declared that it had not been found wanting. “Britain has been tested and not found wanting. This is who we are.”