GORDON Brown came out fighting yesterday – telling his party to “never stop believing” they could beat the Tories.
The prime minister set out an ambitious raft of policies designed to power a Labour fightback in the upcoming general election.
And he rallied delegates at the party conference in Brighton with a call “to fight, not bow out, not walk away, not give in, not give up but fight — fight to win for Britain”.
In a defiant denial the party’s time in power is coming to a close, he said: “Since 1997 Labour has given this country back its future. And we are not done yet.
“We love this country. And we have shown over the years that if you aim high you can lift not just yourself but your country — that there is nothing in life which is inevitable — it’s about the change you choose.”
In his final conference speech before the election the prime minister outlined a controversial plan to deny young mothers council homes.
Instead he said pregnant 16 and 17-year-olds should no longer be “given the keys to a council flat” and left on their own, but will be offered shelter and support in a network of supervised homes.
Presenting himself as sharing “the values of the mainstream majority”, Brown promised action to clamp down on anti-social behaviour, including new powers for councils to ban 24-hour drinking in their area, “tough love” intervention for the country’s 50,000 most difficult families and police action squads to tackle disorder in the run-up to Christmas.
Introduced on stage by wife Sarah as “my husband, my hero”, Brown won a rapturous reception from the party faithful with a speech designed to fire up Labour ahead of an election which pundits insist they are set to lose.
He warned voters that the upcoming election will present them with “the biggest choice for a generation” between “Conservatives who embrace pessimism and austerity and progressives like Labour who embrace prosperity and hope”.
Rejecting Tory suggestions that the election will be an opportunity for voters to kick out the team which has run Britain for over a decade, he framed the ballot instead as a choice between sharply different visions of the change the country needs. And, he insisted, Labour will “choose the change which benefits the majority not the few”.
In a clear effort to dispel accusations that his administration has run out of steam, Brown peppered his address with promises for action and said he was fighting “not for a fourth term Labour government, but for the first Labour government of this new global age”.
Eye-catching promises included free personal care in their own homes for elderly people with the highest needs, a one-week maximum wait for cancer tests and free childcare for 250,000 two-year-olds.
The prime minister responded to the furore over Westminster expenses with plans to shake up the democratic system, including a new power for constituents to recall misbehaving MPs.
Brown was given a standing ovation as he completed his speech with an appeal to activists: “Never, never stop believing. And because the task is difficult the triumph will be even greater.
“Now is not the time to give in but to reach inside ourselves for the strength of our convictions.
“Because we are the Labour Party and our guiding duty is to stand. And fight. And win. And serve.”
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