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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 January 2007, 16:30 GMT
Brown outlines vision for Britain
Gordon Brown
The Fabian Society was seminal to the foundation of the Labour Party
Gordon Brown has put education at the heart of his plan for Britain's future.

The chancellor said he wanted to create a "world class" education system which ensured everybody had the chance to make the most of their talent.

He also said he wanted to restore trust in politics and hand more power to individuals and local committees.

Mr Brown, who is expected to take over from Tony Blair later this year, set out his vision for the next 10 years at a Fabian Society conference in London.

He said he wanted to create "a sense of national mission".

Improving education was vital if Britain was going to compete with emerging economies such as China and India, Mr Brown added.

And although Labour had achieved much there were still far too many children "being left behind".

One important move would be to make the age when people left education 18 rather than 16 - and to make sure that 16 and 17-year-olds in work have access to training and education opportunities.

"We've got to look at how in part-time or full-time education until the age of 18 everybody has something that they are offered," he told members of the left-leaning think tank.

The government said on Friday it was considering raising the school-leaving age in England, and proposals would be published in the Spring.

'Hearts and minds'

Mr Brown said many of the challenges facing Britain - from security to the environment - depended on individuals working with government.

And he wanted to look at new ways in which the executive could be "persuaded to give up powers" both to parliament and to people in such a way that there could be a "participatory democracy".

Key to that was making parliament more "accountable" and making the state more "humble" in the way it exercised power.

On security he said there should be more emphasis on "winning hearts and minds".

"If you take security, which is a huge issue now, I actually think what's been undervalued is the importance of winning hearts and minds,".

"You will not solve the security issues we face, particularly in relation to terrorism, simply by military, policing, intelligence and security action, important as these are," he told the conference at London's Imperial College.


Mr Brown also said that Africa was a frontline in the fight against terrorism and that bringing Africans out of poverty would be a top priority for his leadership. "Africa is a strategic as well as moral issue for us," he said.

On constitutional reform, he said the debate about proportional representation was important and should continue - but he did not think it was the key to restoring trust in politics.

The way to do that was to make parliament more accountable and make people feel more involved in decision making.

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