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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 19:06 GMT 20:06 UK
Labour conference at-a-glance
All you need to know about day two of the Labour conference 2006:


Gordon Brown "never fully reconciled" himself to Tony Blair becoming Labour leader instead of him in 1994, Peter Mandelson has told BBC News.

Tony Blair says it is "hard to let go" as he gives his final speech as prime minister to Labour's annual conference.

Cherie Blair has denied that she accused Gordon Brown of lying during his keynote Labour conference speech.

The Labour leadership suffers a conference defeat on pensions as workers whose companies went bust demand compensation for losing their pensions protest in Manchester.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is accused of having "blood on her hands" over the Lebanon crisis by the peace activist thrown out of last year's conference for heckling.

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

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.

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.


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

Work and Pensions secretary John Hutton has refused to rule out challenging for the leadership, telling the Today programme "I'm not answering that question yet".

Another potential leadership challenger, Alan Milburn, also refused to rule out a bid, telling a fringe meeting he wanted to talk about issues rather than personalities. He said too many people had thrown their hats into the ring for the deputy leadership.

Jack Straw was teased about his deputy leadership ambitions at the same fringe meeting. He also wanted to talk about the issues, he said.

The two people who have declared an interest in the deputy's job, Harriet Harman and Peter Hain both pledged their undying loyalty to Gordon Brown at the same meeting and ruled out a bid for the top job.

Home Secretary John Reid - widely tipped as a Blairite challenger for the leadership - has said the prime minister was "stupid" to reveal his plans to step down.

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".


Within minutes of Tony Blair joking that he had no fear of his wife running with off with next door neighbour, bookies William Hill were offering odds of 500-1 on it happening. Perhaps more enticing might be a bet at 9-1 on Mr Blair naming his departure date by the end of the year.

Fans of party conference music - and yes there are some - were a little disappointed with the choice of intro and outro music for Mr Blair's big speech after last year's inspired use of Sham 69. Because we were in Manchester we were treated to tunes by local boys Badly Drawn Boy, New Order (True Faith of course) and - just as Mr Blair was about to walk on - Take That with Never Forget. His rock star-style encore was accompanied by T Rex's Get It On - not, as some initially thought the similar-sounding Cigarettes and Alcohol by Manchester boys and one-time Blair fans Oasis. Now that would have been a story.

Were there tears? Or was it just beads of sweat? Tony Blair was certainly choked with emotion at the end of his speech but the debate still rages in the media room....

This year's set is Spartan by comparison with previous Labour conferences - perhaps a sign of belt-tightening at Labour HQ. In place of the usual lavish graphics on the big screens, ahead of Mr Blair's speech, there was a blurry black and white slideshow of various northern cities.

Reports Cherie Blair told union members manning a conference stand that Gordon's Brown speech was "rubbish" are, er, "rubbish," according to the union members in question. Armajite Singh, of the Communication Workers Union said Cherie did indeed stop by for a chat but did not mention the chancellor once. "It didn't happen. She was talking about Leo and school and other things," says Mr Singh. In the current febrile atmosphere "Cherie doesn't mention Gordon's big speech" is almost a story in itself....

No wonder Margaret Beckett uttered a swear word when she was made foreign secretary - she now admits geography was "never my strong point". Labour's caravanner-in-chief was joking that despite her deficiencies, she could still spot that David Cameron's support for multi-lateralism sounded odd when he wanted to distance himself from both America and Europe. "I don't think there's a lot of multi left," said Mrs Beckett.

One of the jokes of the week comes from conference organiser Jeremy Beecham pointing to the difference in size between the succession of recent Labour chairmen: the bulky Charles Clarke, John Reid, diminutive Ian McCartney and pint-sized Hazel Blears. "It's like Russian dolls," says Beecham.


"Gordon Brown's failure to address concerns about Iraq, privatisation or the controversy over Trident shows how out of touch he is", writes John McDonnell on his blog.

The only person so far to openly challenge Gordon Brown for the Labour crown said the chancellor's big speech on Monday sounded "too long in preparation and so nervously drafted that it avoided any controversy".

Mr Brown's speech gets a glowing review from Paulddburgin on Labour Home, who writes "Maybe he isn't as charismatic as Tony Blair, but should that really be a primary qualification to be PM!"

But other posters focus on Cherie Blair's alleged comments about the chancellor.

"A fourth term would be difficult for Labour, under any circumstances," writes Swatantra.

"I'm hoping we can do it, but it isn't going to be easy, particularly with prima donnas like Lady Cherie Macbeth mouthing off. When will our people at the top learn that petty in fighting does the Party no good."

Meanwhile, Labour's official blogger Jonathan Roberts, of Thirsk and Marston Labour Party, spotted Alan Johnson and John Reid "greeting each other with a big bear hug" at Monday evening's All Party Parliamentary Beer Club reception. Interesting in the context of the Independent's Reid/Johnson "dream ticket" story, notes Mr Roberts.


Cherie and Tony Blair
The Blairs savour their moment in the spotlight


"In the years to come, whatever I say, whatever I do. I'm with you. Wishing you well. Wanting you to win. You're the future now. Make the most of it," Tony Blair signs off at the end of his final leader's speech at conference.

"He may have all other sorts of flaws and shortcomings but the inner strength comes through," Peter Mandelson gives Gordon Brown his full backing.

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