Tough task for would-be PM

GORDON Brown yesterday had an unenviable task yesterday - to deliver a speech making a clear pitch for the leadership of his party by setting out his stall while at the same trying to show loyalty to the record and policies of the man sitting a couple of yards from him.

By Graham Dines

GORDON Brown yesterday had an unenviable task yesterday - to deliver a speech making a clear pitch for the leadership of his party by setting out his stall while at the same trying to show loyalty to the record and policies of the man sitting a couple of yards from him.

Yesterday, the Chancellor gave his full support for Tony Blair's fight against terrorism. He said Britain must isolate “murderous extremists” and there must be no safe haven for terrorists and no hiding place for terrorist finance.

On climate change, he shares the Blair approach to tackle global warming. On third world deprivation, he has been instrumental in driving through the Government agenda to fight global poverty and he set up the Commission for Africa.


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He's shoulder to shoulder with Mr Blair's determination to replace Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons. He's likely to sanction the construction of nuclear power stations, one of which would inevitably be built on the Suffolk coast at Sizewell.

But just what difference would there be between a Gordon Brown government and the one Tony Blair has led for the past 9½ years?

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The most fundamental impact on us all would be a written British constitution, setting out a charter of rights which would be enshrined in law and upheld by the soon-to-be introduced Supreme Court.

He would do away with the day-to-day meddling of Government ministers in the National Health Service, setting up an independent board to run it, just as he freed the Bank of England and gave it the power to set interest rates away from the interference of transient politicians.

There'll be a renewed emphasis on eradicating poverty at home. There may be some proposals to redistribute wealth, but he knows that Labour can only govern with the approval of Middle England and so there's unlikely to be any new taxes to upset those living in the suburbs.

He promised yesterday to match state school spending per pupil with the private education sector, raising the current level of investment from £5,500 per child per year to £8,000. This contrasts with the Blair education approach of academies, trust schools and specialist colleges.

Gordon Brown is likely to want to heal the differences in the party and country over Iraq, but he is determined not to condone anti Americanism. His task will be easier because UK troops are already timetabled to start withdrawing from some of the provinces in our sectors in the south of the country around Basra.

He'll have a different approach to the Bush administration. There'll be fewer transatlantic visits but he does value the special relationship between the UK and US.

But he backs the military mission in Afghanistan and had not raised publicly any concerns over the Israeli action in Lebanon against Hezbollah.

To see the real Gordon Brown, we'll have to wait until he becomes Prime Minister. There might be a slight change in emphasis, but he's unlikely to order major change in direction.

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