Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Saturday, 20 February 2010

Brown promising change not just continuity

By Iain Watson
BBC political correspondent

The event resembled daytime Jerry Springer-style chat show; with an invited audience of "real people" and a few audience "plants" - in this case cabinet members who stood up from the floor, not the stage, and said their piece.

Gordon Brown addresses activists
There was a note of contrition from Mr Brown

And there was even a note of contrition from the prime minister himself - he said "I'm not perfect".

And by inviting people to take a second look at Labour he was in effect admitting that the party and perhaps even his leadership of it had alienated some natural Labour supporters and had failed to win back many who had defected to the Lib Dems at the last election.

And in the best tradition of those chat shows there was plenty of abuse.

The prime minister's call for voters to take a long hard look at the Conservatives eased him into an across the board attack on their policies.

But this negative campaigning jarred a little with the unveiling of Labour's election slogan - "A Future Fair For All".

This is meant to encompass floating voters' desire for a more optimistic future after the deepest recession in six decades.

Indeed the anti-Tory tone was more in tune with the slogan on Labour's internal literature sent to party members - "Operation Fightback".

This makes it clear Labour will fight the forthcoming campaign as insurgents not incumbents - offering change not just continuity.

Voters will soon be able to pass a verdict on whether that is a credible strategy after 13 years of a Labour government.

The event finished to the strains of the song Higher And Higher but Labour is still consistently trailing in the polls.

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