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Tuesday, 29 September, 1998, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Brown refuses to bend
Gordon Brown
Steering a course of stability: Gordon Brown at conference
Chancellor Gordon Brown has risked the fury of trade unions by standing firm on his refusal to alter his economic strategy.

In a keynote speech to Labour's party conference, Mr Brown told union leaders they could become enemies of his policies.

And he insisted there would be no quick-fixes, "no u-turns, no left-turns or right-turns".

Tony Blair and John Prescott
Tony Blair and John Prescott listen to Gordon Brown
His words cut no ice with the unions, however, and Mr Brown was followed by a series of speakers calling for what Unison general secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe described as "jam today".

But Mr Brown received a standing ovation from delegates after the speech in which he told them: "I tell this conference there is no other way, no solution, or even comfort, in soft options, no magic wand solution, no quick-fix alternative to these long-term policies for achieving the goals we share."

'Challenge of change'

In a wide-ranging speech, he said he wanted to see a New Britain, in which people would take up "the challenge of change" and in which everyone's potential would be released.

He hailed government initiatives, such as the New Deal for the unemployed, the minimum wage and guaranteed incomes for pensioners, as proof that Labour was the party of compassion.

But on the economy, Mr Brown warned that calls for a relaxation of the tight grip he had imposed on public finances and interest rates would simply lead to a return to boom-and-bust.

He called for all in the party to keep their nerve so that scenes of a Labour chancellor going cap-in-hand to the International Monetary Fund and being barracked by conference were never repeated.

"Our iron resolution, our prudence for a purpose, is hard-earned and hard won," Mr Brown said.

"We will not sacrifice it for today's standing ovations, tomorrow's headlines, next week's easy slogans or next month's false solutions."

'No more short-termism'

He went on: "It is because of our commitment to long-term stability, even more essential at a time of world instability, that from this government there will be no u-turns, no left turns, no right turns."

He told the packed hall: "For the economy, our most basic promise of all, to all the people of Britain, was to restore as the central long-term objective of government the commitment to high and stable levels of growth and employment."

Labour had made the Bank of England independent to avoid returning to boom-and-bust, he stressed.

"It is because we have corrected these Conservative errors ... that people know that in a world of instability Britain is today steering a course of stability."

He condemned the "short-termism" of the Tories which saw 15% interest rates and high unemployment.

"For the sake of the families and businesses of Britain, who the Tories betrayed, we are never returning again to such short-termist policies.

"It is in pursuit of our long-term goals of growth and employment that we will resist the `inflate your way to growth' short-termism, the `spend now, pay later' short-termism," he said.

Made in Britain

Mr Brown acknowledged the global economic problems causing problems for UK industry.

But he added: "The only route to prosperity, the Labour route, is to equip our companies and our people, so that we are equal to every challenge ahead".

David Blunkett
Education Secretary David Blunkett listens to Gordon Brown
"I want a Britain that is an island of opportunity, united by shared values, not divided by narrow separatism, ... where what matters is not what you were born to but how everyone can use the potential they were born with."

The chancellor also promised an extra 1bn for commercialisation of science "to ensure that what is invented in Britain will be manufactured in Britain".

The chancellor hailed the achievements of the government's first 500 days in office, in taking tough decisions on public spending but increasing investment in hospitals and schools.

He repeated Labour's commitment to introduce a 10p starting rate of income tax.

BBC News
BBC Political Correspondent Carole Walker talks to Chancellor Gordon Brown
BBC News
The BBC's Political Correspondent John Kampfner previews the day ahead
BBC News
Jon Sopel talks to Radio 4
BBC News
Gordon Brown on his speech, interest rates and his relationship with Tony Blair
See also:

29 Sep 98 | UK Politics
29 Sep 98 | UK Politics
28 Sep 98 | UK Politics

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