BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Analysis: Brown's speech
By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent in Brighton

After last year's extraordinary leader-in-waiting speech, Gordon Brown had to be careful not to look like he was upping the pressure on Tony Blair at this pre-election conference.

Tony Blair applauds as Gordon Brown acknowledges conference support
There were some barbs in speech
And he very nearly managed it.

In another one of his "big" speeches, and none come bigger from the chancellor than his conference performances, he delivered the clearest possible vision of what a third Labour government would be like.

At least, what a third Labour government would be like under his premiership.

He travelled way beyond his narrow Treasury brief with his own personal vision of building a new national consensus based around - well, around his own personal vision of prosperity and justice for all.

It was a speech riddled with references to Great Britain and patriotism - an attempt to unify the nation behind a new consensus.

Economy, stupid

Indeed, unity and vision ran throughout the speech which many claimed ranked amongst his best ever.

But he also sought to prove he was not the sit-on-his-laurels consolidator his detractors have suggested.

He left no room for doubt that it was only the economic achievements of the past seven years that had made it possible for the government to move on
He even went so far as to utter the "New" word on two separate occasions.

For those looking for the barbs, they were there.

With the prime minister apparently suffering from a breakdown of trust amongst electors, he insisted the Labour Party was trusted - over the economy.

And, while he did indeed look to the future and the creation of his "progressive consensus" he left no room for doubt that it was only the economic achievements of the past seven years that had made it possible for the government to move on.

Pecking order

In other words, it is all about "the economy stupid". And we all know who runs that. Indeed, if recent revelations are to be believed, he runs it with scant regard to the prime minister's wishes.

And, if Alan Milburn was listening closely - as he surely was - it was a not-so-gentle reminder of just who will really be central to the next election campaign, whatever their place in the organisational pecking order.

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

He went on: "With the economy central to people's concerns at this next election, as at every election, that is the way to entrench and retain the trust of the people on the economy."

Some even noted that, while the prime minister sported a blue tie for this big occasion, the chancellor selected red.

Every right

However, all these fell a million miles short of the all-out assault on the prime minister that some had been fearing, and others hoping for.

The chancellor knows just how damaging such apparent disloyalty could be in the run up to the general election and he does not want to be accused of harming his party. Neither would he deliberately do that.

And it is fair to say that, as chancellor of the exchequer, he has every right to highlight the government's economic successes.

So, no declaration of war on the prime minister. More a case of yet another reminder to the party faithful what a "brilliant chancellor" - to quote the prime minister - he is.

And, if anyone cared to ask, what a great prime minister he would make.

So where was the pressure on the prime minister?

Well, he has got to outdo his chancellor with his speech on Tuesday. Again.

The BBC's Carole Walker
"He dismissed as 'soap opera' new reports of his difficult relationship with his chancellor"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific