[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Brown's message of change
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman
Mr Brown promised to give the party 'soul'
In his first speech as Labour leader, Gordon Brown offered two distinct audiences the one thing he believes unites them both - change.

To the Labour Party gathered in Manchester and beyond, he wants them to believe they really have changed their leader and not simply replaced Tony Blair with a more-of-the-same candidate.

As a result, they can be confident the government will take a new direction that puts past, unspecified mistakes (they all know what he means) behind them.

To the voters who will be going to the polls in only a couple of years' time - a political blink of the eye - he wants them to believe they have changed their prime minister and, as a result, need look no further.

Core message

This single message has been at the core of everything he has done and said since it became clear that, despite all the calls for a contest, he was going to be crowned as Tony Blair's successor unopposed.

He has not been out there, telling party members and the electorate that Tony Blair is a busted flush and he is here to put everything right.

But he knows there are many in both groups who believe exactly that or, particularly since the Iraq war, something very close to it.

The fact that he now has as his deputy Harriet Harman, who has been a critic of the war during the campaign, will undoubtedly help him with that message.

1. Harman: 50.4%
2. Johnson: 49.6%
3. Cruddas: Out
4. Benn: Out
5. Hain: Out
6. Blears: Out
The final result comes after eliminated contestants' second preferences reallocated

But that is not going to stop him hammering it home, something he did time and time again in his big speech.

There was another message in the speech and, in many ways, it was a full-blooded Old Labour one.

Mr Brown promised to give the party a soul. And for many in the Manchester conference centre, that will have meant something quite specific.

It hinted at bringing back some of the egalitarian, campaigning, community-based politics the party was founded on.

Whether that is what Mr Brown meant remains to be seen, and he was careful to once again insist he would brook no return to the old, failed policies of the past.

But he undoubtedly wanted to touch on some of those Old Labour sentiments when he spoke about soul.

As for policy, there was little fresh in what Mr Brown had to say.

'Moral compass'

He again stressed the need to create new, affordable housing and, to that end, said the next housing minister would sit in Cabinet.

He also repeated his commitment to the NHS and equality of educational opportunity and, for the umpteenth time, spoke of his "moral compass".

So far, he seems to be succeeding in getting his message across to the party faithful who, if the Manchester conference is anything to go by, seem genuinely energised by their new leader.

How long that will last will depend on what he does now in terms of policy and drawing a line under the past and making the new start he spoke of.

For the wider electorate, while the latest polls suggest he is experiencing a "Brown bounce", he knows he has a real battle on his hands to win that general election.

Harman wins deputy leader contest
24 Jun 07 |  UK Politics

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

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific