Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 15:49 UK

Brown's punishing fightback plan

By Laura Kuenssberg
BBC political correspondent

Gordon Brown and Andrew Marr
Mr Brown does not enjoy television interviews

Was he punishing himself?

After disastrous election results, Gordon Brown took to the television studio, an experience he has never enjoyed, to account for the party's - and perhaps his own - failures.

Indeed, throughout his interview on BBC One, the prime minister was careful to use the word, 'I' on many occasions.

He clearly had decided it was futile to pretend that he had not been part of the problem or his own style a factor in Labour's worst election performance at council elections in four decades.

Mea culpa

So he said 'I take responsibility' and admitted that under him the government had made mistakes.

He acknowledged that the abolition of the 10p tax rate had been badly handled.

He admitted he had allowed speculation over calling an election last autumn to run on far too long - a key moment in turning much of the media mood against him.

More than anything else, the PM wanted people to believe that he is the man to look after the country's economy as it falters

And the mea culpa went on.

When asked if he had an "odd" personality, the prime minister confessed to what many see as one of his core problems - that he spends too much time on detail, something that many believe cramps his ability to make decisions.

And Mr Brown acknowledged he had difficulty communicating in the public sphere. He said he was a private person, from an ordinary background, suggesting he was uncomfortable in the spotlight, as he often appears.

He tried time and again to get his message across, that after his catastrophe on Thursday night, he does understand the concerns, the hopes and fears of the public.

'Clear plan'

The PM says he will spend more time round the country, meeting voters and talking to them about what they want.

He tried to highlight too what he sees as achievements, actions he says the Conservatives would shy away from; forcing GPs to open for longer against their will, legislating to encourage the building of three million new homes.

More than anything else, the PM wanted people to believe that he is the man to look after the country's economy as it falters.

He acknowledged, as we have become to used to hearing, that many people are feeling the pinch in their pockets with fuel and food prices increasing, and credit harder to come by.

And he says that the government has a "clear and unequivocal" plan to steer the country through.

But Gordon Brown knows the pressure is on. There is no discernable appetite in the Labour Party for a leadership contest.

But three MPs have put him publicly on notice, warning that if things do not pick up by the party conference, in the autumn things could be very different.





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THE ELECTION RESULTS
COUNCIL RESULTS
  Councillors Councils
Party +/- Total +/- Total
CON 257 3155 12 65
LAB -334 2365 -9 18
LD 33 1804 1 12
PC 31 205 -1 0
OTH 10 898 0 0
NOC - - -3 64
159 of 159 councils declared.

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London Mayoral results
Overall results
Name Party Votes
Johnson CON 1,168,738
Livingstone LAB 1,028,966
Paddick LD 878,097
Berry GRN 409,101

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London Assembly Results
Overall results
Party Constit' Top-up Total seats
CON 8 3 11
LAB 6 2 8
LD 0 3 3
GRN 0 2 2
BNP 0 1 1

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