We will change the world again, Brown tells party

Author: PA

In what was billed as a make-or-break speech, Mr Brown set out a wide-ranging
programme for a fourth Labour term, including free personal care for elderly
people with the greatest needs, new measures to crack down on anti-social
behaviour, a referendum on voting reform and a new power for constituents to
recall misbehaving MPs.

While acknowledging once more that Labour will have to make tough choices on
tax and spending after the election, Mr Brown promised that a fourth-term
administration would “protect and improve” frontline services
every year of the coming Parliament and will invest more money in schools.

In a slogan designed to draw clear defining lines with David Cameron’s Tories,
Mr Brown repeatedly promised that Labour would always choose “the
change that benefits the hard-working majority, not the privileged few.”

With Labour plumbing new depths in the polls – including one which this
morning put them in third place behind the Liberal Democrats – Mr Brown
insisted that the party was “united and determined to fight for the
future”.

Introduced on stage by wife Sarah as “my husband, my hero”, he won
immediate applause and cheers from delegates as he opened his speech by
telling them that Labour were “the fighters and believers who change
the world – we have changed the world before and we are going to do it again”.

He told delegates he had acted “decisively and immediately” when
Britain was “looking over a precipice” as banks teetered on the
brink of failure last year, while Conservatives had taken decisions on the
economy which were “consistently wrong”.

“The Conservative Party were faced with the economic call of the century
and they called it wrong,” he said.

“And I say a party that makes the wrong choices on the most critical
decisions it would have faced in government should not be given the chance
to be in government.”

Mr Brown warned voters that allowing the Conservatives to return to power at
the election would put at risk the future of their jobs, schools, hospitals
and communities.

“The Conservative Party want people to believe that the ballot paper has an
option marked change without consequence – that’s it’s only a change of the
team at the top,” he said.

“They’ve deliberately held their cards close to their chest. They’ve done
their best to conceal their policies and their instincts. But the financial
crisis forced them to show their hand and they showed they had no hearts.

“And so I say to the British people the election to come will not be about my
future – it’s about your future. Your job. Your home. Your children’s
school. Your hospital. Your community. Your country.”

The choice facing voters will be between “Conservatives who embrace pessimism
and austerity and progressives like Labour who embrace prosperity and hope”,
he said.

And he added: “There are only two options on tax and spending – and only one
of them benefits Britain’s hard-working majority.

“One is reducing the deficit by cutting front-line public services – the
Conservative approach.

“The other is getting the deficit down while maintaining and indeed improving
front-line public services – the Labour approach.”

While Labour would reduce the deficit by raising tax “at the very top” putting
up National Insurance by 0.5%, cutting costs and having “realistic” public
sector pay settlements, the Conservatives would take “a different approach”
of cutting spending on front-line services and giving tax breaks to the
rich, he warned.

“These are not cuts they would make because they have to – these are spending
cuts they are making because they want to. It is not inevitable – it is the
change they choose,” said the Prime Minister.

Without naming Mr Cameron, Mr Brown stressed his own upbringing in “an
ordinary family in an ordinary town” with parents who “could not easily
afford to put me through fee-paying schools” in a clear attempt to draw a
contrast with the privileged background of the Eton-educated Tory leader.

And he drew a contrast between the bankers who “lost sight of basic British
values of acting responsibly and acting fairly” and the lives of ordinary
people in a Britain “that works not just by self-interest but by
self-discipline, self-improvement and self-reliance… a Britain where we
don’t just care for ourselves we also care for each other.”

He said: “Call them middle class values, call them traditional working class
values, call them family values, call them values to live by, call them all
of these; these are the values of the mainstream majority; the anchor of
Britain’s families, the best instincts of the British people, the soul of
our party and the mission of our government.

“And I say this too; these are my values.”

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