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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Reaction: Gordon Brown's speech
Union leaders, ministers and delegates give their reaction to Gordon Brown's first speech to Labour's annual conference as prime minister:

TONY WOODLEY, JOINT GENERAL SECRETARY, UNITE

"He demonstrated he is in touch with ordinary working men and women and recognised that their main concerns are education, housing, crime and the NHS. It is the most Labour speech we have heard for a decade."

PAUL KENNY, GENERAL SECRETARY, GMB

"It was an extremely strong, powerful speech. It was good to hear him praise the national minimum wage and other issues which the trade unions have been pressing for.

"But I still think there needs to be some signs that he is listening as well."

DEREK SIMPSON, JOINT GENERAL SECRETARY, UNITE

"It was a captain's innings of a speech - just like Geoffrey Boycott's. There were no sixes just steady run-making.

"He kept his options well open for announcing a possible election."

DENNIS SKINNER, LABOUR MP

"He measured up to the task without any doubt at all. The sincerity shone through on things like equality, international issues and particularly on the NHS."

Asked if he thought Mr Brown was about to call an election, Mr Skinner said: "He did use the word 'manifesto' at one point - I don't know what he meant by it."

DES BROWNE, DEFFENCE SECRETARY

"I thought it was an excellent speech. As an observer of these speeches for quite a few years, I thought he was able to speak away from the constraints he has had before when speaking as chancellor.

"He delivered a very personal and impassioned speech that spoke out to the country."

DAVID LAMMY, INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES AND SKILLS MINISTER

"It was a tour de force that spoke out to the party and to the country at large. It was a speech that really set out his personal beliefs and a sense of where he is from."

ALAN RITCHIE, GENERAL SECRETARY UCATT

"It was an excellent speech. He hit all the right bases and spoke for all the communities of Britain. It was refreshing to hear a prime minister showing genuine concern for the most vulnerable workers in Britain.

"It is essential that Gordon Brown's message today is rolled out throughout all of government in order to reduce the exploitation of thousands of vulnerable workers in Britain."

JOHN MCDONNELL, LABOUR MP

"Many will be extremely disappointed that there is no evidence of a change of political direction that Gordon Brown had trailed on his election as leader.

"When Gordon calls for public services of which this country can be proud, it is not consistent with a policy which imposes a pay cut across the public sector and threatens public sector workers with job cuts."

He claimed there were few policy announcements and accused the prime minister of "playing politics" with the stability of the government and of the country by failing to confirm whether he will call an early general election.

BRENDAN BARBER, GENERAL SECRETARY, TUC

"This was a speech of real passion and purpose, fired with a commitment to social justice and opportunity. This is a conviction politician ready to grapple with the challenges the country faces."

DAVE PRENTIS, GENERAL SECRETARY, UNISON

"It was a speech worth waiting for - a breath of fresh air. He talked about opportunity and potential. He was believable - there was no Flash Gordon about him.

"He proved that he is head and shoulders above Cameron and Campbell.

"Gordon now has to take action to deal with the issues that are between us. He could start by scrapping the markets and competition that are ruining our public services."

JOHN SAUVEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENPEACE

"Gordon Brown talked about being a world leader in green technology but he put no flesh on the bones of how to get there.

"After 10 years we are still at the bottom of most league tables when it comes to renewable energy."

MARGARET BECKETT, FORMER FOREIGN SECRETARY

Mrs Beckett said it had been a "confident, assured, relaxed" speech.

"He recognises there is a need for a dialogue between the political classes and the people of the country and he believes the way to address that is indeed to have that dialogue direct to the people."

KATE HUDSON, CHAIRWOMAN, CND

Ms Hudson said she was very disappointed that Mr Brown had failed to mention the war in Iraq.

"Ignoring the issue will not make it go away - we will just see more and more of our troops killed. The question we want to know is what is he going to do about it.

"He talked about bringing peace and stability to the world but the deaths of so many American and British troops in Iraq shows there is no peace or stability there.

"The best thing he could do to pay tribute to these troops is to bring them home."


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