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Labour conference latest

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Labour party conference


Gordon Brown speaks to Andrew Marr

It's the economy, stupid. Or rather, as Gordon Brown rather tortuously put it in his Andrew Marr interview, "it's the global economy, stupid".

Mr Brown seems bent on placing the blame for Britain's economic woes squarely at the door of "irresponsible" City speculators.

This will be music to the ears of the left. Some MPs could barely contain their glee at fringe meetings on Saturday at the "crisis" in global capitalism and the surreal spectacle of a Republican government nationalising banks.

Even more mainstream figures see an opportunity to ditch New Labour's free market ideology and tax the super rich.

They also plan to keep pressure on over a windfall tax - after delegates chose it as a contemporary issue for debate on Monday. Expect fireworks.


1415 Home Secretary Jacqui Smith

1510 Q&A: Crime, Justice, Citizenship and Equalities - Jack Straw and Jacqui Smith

1550 Building a Britain of Lasting Prosperity - Debate with James Purnell

1730 Conference adjourns


It may be all sweetness and light in the conference hall so far - but Gordon Brown's critics never sleep.

Actually, make that critic. Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, writing in the Sunday Times, said "If Gordon Brown is to remain prime minister and prove wrong those who doubt his capacity to change, he must establish his authority and offer clear leadership.

"Confident communication, great speeches, a strong and supportive team and a coherent programme of policies flow only from a clear sense of political direction.

"There is no merit in just waiting for further dates or setting future tests.

"Although prevarication and evasion may appear attractive at the moment, they are actually the most dangerous course of all.

"The people we seek to serve will not be helped by a crippling lethargy or by just hoping that something will turn up."


Charles Clarke looked genuinely hurt when John Prescott accused him of being one of the "Bitterites," on the Politics Show. "I am not bitter about it," insisted the ex-home secretary. He said he was simply passionate about saving the party from disaster at the next election.


Gordon Brown's pollster, Deborah Mattinson, told a meeting of Labour delegates that David Cameron has "not yet sealed the deal" with the electorate. She said recent focus groups had suggested that nearly two thirds of people wanted someone with experience of running the economy to run the country in times of economic difficulty, suggesting that the prime minister therefore did have an opportunity to turn round the recent run of dire polls for Labour.

She said Mr Cameron has "absolutely not won them (the electorate) over", and that according to her recent figures, 55% of voters think the Conservative leader is a 'lightweight'. She also said that at every focus group she conducted, participants mentioned David Cameron being caught cycling to work, followed by a driver. Ms Mattinson suggested that this area of Conservative weakness provided the Labour party with potential lines of attacks, saying for some voters, the best argument to present was a "fear of the alternative."


Former Tory councillor Les Byrom collapsed in the hall just eight minutes after praising Gordon Brown. The councillor from Southport, Merseyside, who defected from the Conservatives in June, had appeared on stage to praise the prime minister as a "considerate and compassionate" man. He was treated at the scene by members of Mr Brown's Special Branch protection detail, before being transferred to a waiting ambulance. He is in a "comfortable condition" tonight at the Manchester Royal Infirmary where he is undergoing tests.


YouTube grab
If Gordon Brown is looking for some help to defeat the rebel alliance this week, he could do worse than look up an old comrade from his Treasury days. Anyone watching Shriti Vadera's latest ministerial pronouncement on You Tube will be offered a list of related clips - including one entitled "Darth Vader helmet shaped hot air balloon". We knew she had a fearsome reputation but does she really deserve this?


The prime minister looked a little more relaxed than of late, in his interview with Andrew Marr. Perhaps he feels the immediate threat to his leadership is over.


Gordon Brown
Vision thing: Gordon Brown contemplates the Manchester skyline before his big Marr interview


"I am a pretty ordinary guy who managed through an ordinary school to get to university and then I was in a position to do the things I've been able to do," Gordon Brown sounding like Tony Blair in "pretty straight guy" mode.

Brown pledges action on economy
20 Sep 08 |  UK Politics
PM hits back over leadership talk
19 Sep 08 |  UK Politics

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