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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Labour conference at-a-glance
All you need to know about day one of the Labour conference 2006:

CONFERENCE CATCH-UP

Gordon Brown has made his pitch to the Labour Party conference in Manchester to be Britain's next prime minister.

Downing Street has described as "untrue and rubbish" a report that Cherie Blair accused Gordon Brown of lying during his keynote Labour conference speech.

The two early contenders to be Labour's next deputy leader when John Prescott quits - Peter Hain and Harriet Harman - have clashed at a fringe meeting.

Labour risks making the same mistakes in taking on David Cameron as the Conservatives did in Tony Blair's early days, says minister Margaret Hodge.

The costs of the identity cards scheme could be cut "quite substantially" by making more use of existing government databases, a minister has said.

Peter Mandelson has told union bosses not to think they can use the Labour leadership contest to win back their old power in the party.

Trust in Labour was damaged by the battle with the BBC which led to the Hutton inquiry, says Gordon Brown's ex-special adviser, Ian Austin, now a Labour MP.

John Reid has said Tony Blair was "stupid" to say he would not fight a fourth general election as prime minister.

Labour has a "serious problem" with its finances but can recover, the party's honorary treasurer Jack Dromey told Labour delegates.

Charles Clarke has apologised for the personal attack he made earlier this month on Gordon Brown.

Former cabinet minister David Blunkett has demanded that Labour Party members "get a grip" of themselves as their annual conference gets under way.

Gordon Brown should face a challenge for the Labour leadership when the job is vacant, one of Tony Blair's closest backers in the Cabinet has said.

LEADERSHIP WATCH

All the latest news on the race to be Labour's next leader and deputy leader.

Leading US pollster Frank Lunz claims voters believe Gordon Brown would lead Labour to defeat at the next general election and that the Chancellor represents "old politics".

Ex Cabinet minister Stephen Byers has urged his Labour colleagues to concentrate on policies rather than the party leadership issue.

Cherie Blair was staying tight-lipped about her husband's retirement plans, teasing journalists as she toured the fringe with cries of "how many times can girl say no".

Home Secretary John Reid refused to back Gordon Brown for the right to succeed Tony Blair - but he said that the process of selecting a new leader should involve an "open and transparent" debate, not a deal stitched up in a smoke-filled room.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has come out strongly in favour of Gordon Brown to succeed Tony Blair, saying his "time had come".

Northern Ireland Secretary and deputy leadership hopeful Peter Hain has reaffirmed his support for the chancellor as the next prime minister - but he thinks there should be a contest.

Constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman - also planning a deputy leadership bid - has made a bid to woo the left by calling for curbs on "ridiculous" City bonuses. She also revealed she was touring her Camberwell and Peckham constituency "knocking on doors" to persuade Labour voters to join the party so they can vote in the deputy leadership and leadership contests. When the vacancies arise, of course.

CONFERENCE DIARY

David Miliband is seen as one of the movers and shakers of the Cabinet - and boy, was he moving at one fringe meeting. When a Moby track struck up in the next door tent, Miliband could not contain him and started dancing in his seat. He stopped and looked rather sheepish when we noticed his moves.

Peter Mandelson has never been a diplomat and he was at it again at the Progress rally. Panel chairman Alan Milburn recounted how one minister at last year's event had spoken for 35 minutes, later claiming he had misheard orders to talk for only five minutes. Milburn was the soul of discretion, keeping the minister's name secret. Mandelson was having none of it, mouthing John Reid's name and then naming him directly in his speech.

"Pathetic" tutted one delegate, as some of Labour's leading lights told a fringe meeting what they were doing personally to help the environment. Harriet Harman tries to get her husband to stop running the tap while he brushes his teeth. Ed Balls gets his children to turn off the TV at night. Hilary Armstrong encourages a local eco-business. Charles Clarke tries to use public transport and ride a bike - and no, he added a little tetchily, it does not "collapse beneath him". Not surprisingly, they all agreed they could do better...

"I hope you're getting extra money for that," joked Cherie Blair as a Guardian photographer circled her with a particularly fancy piece of kit shaped, for some reason, like a steering wheel. "You need a good union," she quipped. "Actually we are all going on strike," said the snapper. "Really? Oh..."

BEST OF THE BLOGS

Despite the protests outside the venue, there was a mood of "optimism and excitement" as the Labour conference got under way, writes Alex Hilton on Labour Home.

Mr Hilton has been blogging furiously. In the past 24 hours he has interviewed Harriet Harman - who tells him the turmoil of recent weeks has "focused minds", watched Tony Blair being presented with a steel statue inscribed "from one man of steel to another" and joined in with a spontaneous chorus of "happy birthday" for Cherie Blair.

Elsewhere in the Labour blogosphere, all is relative calm. Recess Monkey wonders whether Charles Clarke really did apologise to Gordon Brown.

Michael Meacher - who has not ruled out his own leadership bid - has a dig at Gordon Brown's use of "machine politics".

"I have just heard, from what I regard as an unimpeachable source that Gordon Brown has told junior ministers that if they do not vote for him in the forthcoming leadership contest, they'll be out," the former minister writes.

PHOTO OF THE DAY

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown
The Blair and Brown double act enters its final phase

QUOTES OF THE DAY

"At all times the Labour Party must stand for more than a programme: we must have a soul," Gordon Brown.

"Well, that's a lie," Cherie Blair's reported comment after watching Mr Brown's account of his relationship with her husband.


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