Gordon Brown has attacked the Conservatives following the party's row over grammar schools.
Gordon Brown addressed party members at a leadership meeting
At Labour leadership hustings in Cardiff, he mocked Tory leader David Cameron's efforts to make the party out as compassionate Conservatives.
Mr Brown claimed the Tories were caught between what they think they should say and "what they really believe".
He admitted Iraq had been divisive but said that the country was entering a "new stage".
Mr Brown said the Conservatives were obsessed by grammar schools.
"You will find very quickly that they are caught between what they think they should say - so that they can be understood by the British people that they are in the centre ground - and what they really believe," he went on.
Mr Cameron has said he will not shelve changes despite the grammar schools row.
Mr Brown also accused parts of the Tory party of wanting to abolish the NHS - despite Mr Cameron's focus on health.
"Whenever it has come to the crunch in the last few months they have made a decision that they will opt for the old policies and not the new policies," said Mr Brown.
He accepted that Iraq had been a divisive issue in the UK.
"We have got to recognise that mistakes have and were made both in the run up to the war and in the administration of it," he said.
"I am not going to recoil from the decisions that I made and am part of the Cabinet that made these decisions but I would say this that we are entering a new stage."
Mr Brown said the aims for Iraq were security, political reconciliation and giving Iraqis a stake in the future of the country.
The chancellor made a guarantee over jobs at disabled employer Remploy which has unveiled cost-cutting plans to close 43 factories across the UK.
He said: "If it's necessary to increase the money to maintain that guarantee I give you the assurance we will increase the money to do so."
Mr Brown said promises made at the G8 summit in Germany to tackle poverty in Africa had to be kept.
On the subject of lengthening the time terror suspects are held, Mr Brown said it could not be done without proper judicial oversight.