Brown: victory will be down to me

It's all my own work - that was the message Gordon Brown gave Labour delegates in Brighton yesterday. Political Editor Graham Dines says the Chancellor clearly believes that without his economic stability, the party would not be facing an historic third election victory.

It's all my own work - that was the message Gordon Brown gave Labour delegates in Brighton yesterday. Political Editor Graham Dines says the Chancellor clearly believes that without his economic stability, the party would not be facing an historic third election victory.

AFTER last year's unashamed pitch to be the next Labour leader ­- and the sooner the better - Gordon Brown yesterday toned down his simmering ambitions to become Prime Minister.

Yet while setting out his vision of what an historic third consecutive Labour term in power would be like, no matter how much it was coded, the message was clear.

Labour is only facing the possibility of a third successive election victory because of the success of his policies.


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With all the opinion polls pointing to Tony Blair suffering from a massive breakdown in trust among voters, the Chancellor insisted the Labour Party WAS trusted - over the economy, which has been under his stewardship for the past seven years.

“From being the party not trusted with the economy, this conference should be proud that Labour is today the only party trusted with the economy.”

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The big weakness of previous Labour governments, leading to their downfall at the hands of the voters, has been the way Britain's economy has gone to pieces amid rampant inflation and runaway pay rises.

Not this time. And while he called for a the creation of his “progressive consensus of prosperity and justice for all” to make a success of Labour's third term, he left no-one in any doubt that it was only the economic achievements since 1997 that had made it possible for the Government to face the electorate with confidence of another victory.

Who's in charge of the economy? Surprise, surprise, it's Gordon Brown and not Tony Blair who's the one to be thanked for making that third election victory possible.

He clearly believes - and it would be difficult to find anyone this week in Brighton to disagree - that without the economic stability admired throughout the world, Labour would not be poised to win its third time. Which means that any attempt to sideline him in the election campaign, even though Alan Milburn has been appointed to lead that quest for the Holy Grail, will be met with firm resistance from the occupant of 11 Downing Street.

“I come here, after seven years as your Labour Chancellor, not just to tell you what we have done but to tell you how much more we have yet to do.

“And I come to this conference after seven years of this New Labour government more idealistic than ever, more determined and more certain than ever about it is our duty to achieve for Britain.

“We will never be complacent about stability. We must show at all times we have the discipline and strength to take tough long term fiscal and monetary decisions about Britain.

“With the economy central to people's concerns at the next election, as at every election, that is the way to entrench and retain the trust of the people on the economy.”

Last year's speech badly misfired. His closing reference to the party only being “bold” when it was being “Labour” was rebuffed the next day by the Prime Minister's deliberate reference to New Labour.

So Mr Brown yesterday actually brought himself to use the term New Labour twice, even though it is now so clearly associated with Tony Blair, the man who - allegedly - refuses to step aside to allow his old friend and rival to assume the Labour leadership.

Perhaps realising that all the newspaper talk of feuds and non communication between himself and the Prime Minister was damaging to the party's election chances, his speech this year was far more mooted.

Allies of the Chancellor have been busily briefing throughout the summer that Mr Brown feels the Prime Minister has reneged on a promise to quit. But the Chancellor would never be forgiven by the party if he did anything which damaged the re-election of a Labour government - because the party which ought to be bigger than any individual and his or her ambition.

Political opponents may deride the raid on pension funds and the scores of “stealth taxes” which have paid for much of the economic and social initiatives.

Yet as the architect of the Government's investment in schools and hospitals, the New Deal for the unemployed, the minimum wage, and the drive to take millions of children out of poverty, nobody could really argue with Mr Brown's right to tell the Labour Party just who was responsible for it.

graham.dines@eadt.co.uk

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