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Last Updated: Friday, 11 May 2007, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Gordon Brown speech in full
Today I announce that I am a candidate to be leader of the Labour party and to lead a new government.

Tony Blair has led our country for 10 years with distinction - with courage, passion and insight.

In the weeks and months ahead, my task is to show I have the new ideas, the vision and the experience to earn the trust of the British people.

Today there are new priorities and I offer a new leadership for this new time.

And as I enter this contest for nominations, let me say I welcome any other candidate who wishes to stand, will debate anyone who does stand and will fight hard for every single nomination and every person's support. It would be the greatest honour to be this country's prime minister.

Britain is a great country that in this century can become greater still.

And our greatness lies not just in our history but in the character of our people: our strength demonstrated again and again to come together as a community and unite around a shared national purpose.

Let me set out simply my core belief.

The Britain I believe in is a Britain of fairness and opportunity for all.

Every British citizen with every chance to make the most of themselves - every community fair to every citizen - if you work hard, you're better off. If you save, you're rewarded. If you play by the rules, we'll stand by you.

These are for me the best of British values: responsibilities required in return for rights; fairness not just for some but all who earn it.

So I say to my party: we have always served the country best when at every point we start from the concerns, struggles and the rising aspirations of hard-working families.

And I say to the country: your priorities will be my driving purpose.

Over the last decade as chancellor I have always tried to take the right long-term decisions.

As new Labour we have built a stable economy and a fairer society. And we have much further to go.

The task ahead is to build an even stronger economy with even higher standards of living, and a stronger society with a higher quality of life for everyone in this country.

Making Britain one of the great success stories of the new century.

We seek to meet this task in the face of new and very different challenges.

And for me being new Labour means that as challenges change, we must change too.

With house prices rising, families want more affordable housing.

With new medical technology, people can live healthier and longer and they want an NHS personal to their needs that earns the trust of patients and staff.

With world-class standards in education the key to getting on in life, parents want the individual talents of their child to be fully realised.

With the threat of climate change, people want to know what all of us - individuals, businesses and government here and in Europe - can do to safeguard our environment for our children. With communities changing so fast around us, families want safer streets, security with good pensions in retirement, and to know we will protect and strengthen the British way of life.

With the challenge of terrorism unlike anything we have faced, the people of Britain want us strong in defence and security, succeeding not only militarily but also opening a new front: working with our allies to win the battle of hearts and minds at home and abroad.

So as the world changes our priorities must change. And for us the way we govern must change too.

As chancellor, I have learned that when you get something right you build on it. But part of experience and judgement is to recognise that when you fall short, you listen, learn and then are confident enough to set new priorities. And I have learned also that the best way to meet peoples priorities is to involve and engage people.

For me this starts with governing in a different way.

Just as my first act as chancellor was to give away power to the Bank of England to restore trust in economic policy, so one of my first acts as prime minister would be to restore power to Parliament in order to build the trust of the British people in our democracy.

Government must be more open and accountable to Parliament - for example in decisions about peace and war, in public appointments and in a new ministerial code of conduct.

But this is just a beginning. Over the coming months, I want to build a shared national consensus for a programme of constitutional reform that strengthens the accountability of all who hold power; that is clear about the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen in Britain today; that defends the union and is vigilant about ensuring that the hard won liberties of the individual, for which Britain has for centuries been renowned round the world, are at all times upheld without relenting in our attack on terrorism.

In today's world, all of us want our voice to be heard, our choices to count, and public services tailored to our personal needs.

The skill and dedication of public servants improves our lives every day.

And it's right that the public sector always seeks to be better and that at all times we improve - and drive modernisation forward. Every policy, every structure founded on the essential requirement that public services exist for the pupil, the parent, the patient and the public who are to be served.

This is the 21st century progressive view; the citizen in control, being served not told by government, a servant state:

  • sure start delivered with the involvement of mothers and fathers

  • individual budgets that give freedom to the disabled

  • youth budgets with young people making their own choices .

    I am optimistic about Britain because I am inspired when I see the genius of our arts and creative industries, the flourishing of our universities, scientists, entrepreneurs and cities. A new energy, dynamism and often untapped talent which it is our patriotic duty to encourage and it would be thrilling to help unleash.

    And I am optimistic about Britain too because in the life of our communities, churches and faith groups, responsible business our voluntary sector and social enterprises, I see the driving power of social conscience at work - men and women who believe in something bigger than themselves.

    They show that there is no problem too big in Britain that cannot be sorted out by what's best in Britain. And I see the job of government not to walk away but to encourage, to support and to bring people together.

    In advance of the Queen's Speech, I propose to meet people in every part of the country. I will discuss with young home buyers and communities how we build more affordable homes, and in an environmentally sustainable way.

    I will bring together all partners in education - teachers, parents, pupils and business - and as we implement the important structural changes we need a new drive to focus on the individual talents, creativity and aspirations of children and thus standards and excellence in every school.

    And I want to discuss with parents and young people how to strengthen family life, address child poverty and inequality and what together we can do about the far greater pressures today on children that risk eroding childhood, undermine discipline, and stifle the aspiration that is the key to our future.

    In the next few weeks I will also visit our armed forces and visit the middle east, to discuss with leaders and our forces so we learn the lessons we have to learn from the last few years as we focus on the best ways to achieve greater stability.

    Education is my passion. A priority for the coming months will be the NHS. In advance of the spending review in the autumn, I will meet with those on the front line of the NHS, patients and staff, as we shape the next stages of our plans for our health service.

    For the first time in advance of the Queens Speech, I will publish a draft legislative programme to inform consultation and discussion. I will reach out to put national interest before sectional interest and I will form a government of all the talents.

    Bringing people together to listen, learn and then solve problems; Building a shared sense of national purpose around values we hold in common; Having the strength to see through the long term decisions;

    That is the essence of modern leadership. As a politician I have never sought the public eye for its own sake.

    I have never believed presentation should be a substitute for policy.

    I do not believe politics is about celebrity.

    When you put yourself forward for leadership, the country has a right to know where you come from, what you believe in and what you want to achieve. My father was a minister of the church.

    For me, my parents were - and their inspiration still is - my moral compass. The compass which has guided me through each stage of my life.

    They taught me the importance of integrity and decency, treating people fairly -and duty to others. And now the sheer joy of being a father myself - seeing young children develop grow and flourish - like for all parents, has changed my life.

    Alongside millions juggling the pressures of work, I struggle too to be what I want to be - a good parent.

    And because I was fortunate enough to benefit from the best of education at my local school that helped me to university, and the best of health care that saved my sight when I was injured playing rugby and struggled as a teenager, I want for my children and every child the best education and best health care.

    And putting myself forward for leadership, I come back again and again to what I learned as I grew up - my father's belief, his fundamental optimism. He used to tell me that in our country each and everyone of us has a talent, each of us should have the chance to develop that talent. And each of us a duty to use that talent.

    And I came into politics out of faith. Faith in people and their potential.

    And a belief that Britain can lead the world, the compassion of each of us contributing to the well being and security of all.

    And this is my message I will carry to people round the country.

    For me the weeks of this campaign are a chance to discuss new ideas but also to listen to your concerns. A chance to show how we will meet your aspirations - but also, as we listen, to learn what needs to change.

    I will listen and I will learn. I will strive to meet people's aspirations.

    I want to lead a government humble enough to know its place - where I will always strive to be - on people's side.




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