Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 18:15 UK
No time for a novice, says Brown


Let me tell you this is no time for a novice
Gordon Brown attacks the Conservatives but was the message aimed at someone else too?

I do not accept any of the allegations that are being put around and this hearsay that the BBC is repeating with absolutely no basis... it is something that they should know better than.
David Miliband's response on Tuesday to his reported comments about "toning" down his speech


Nick Robinson anticipates Brown speech, with Andrew Neil and Alastair Campbell

It was billed as the most important speech of Gordon Brown's career but did he land a knockout blow against his critics? Mr Brown outlined new policies on nursery education, cancer care and internet access for low-income families which were warmly received by the party faithful. He also showed contrition, accepting he had mistakes over the past year and set out his vision for a "fair Britain" for all. But the passages which really got tongues wagging where when he turned his fire on his enemies. Describing the Tories as unfit to run the economy, he said "this is no time for a novice". Who was he referring to? Tory leader David Cameron and his number two George Osborne, Labour ministers said. But the BBC's Nick Robinson said there may have been a subliminal message for Foreign Secretary David Miliband, whose loyalty to Mr Brown has been the subject of such public debate this week. As for Mr Miliband, he praised the speech as "excellent" while his brother and fellow cabinet minister Ed said it was the "speech of Mr Brown's life". Union reaction was also favourable but it remains to be seen whether tomorrow's headlines will be so positive and if Mr Brown can build on the momentum of the occasion.



Iain Duncan Smith and Roy Hattersley on Brown speech



Daily Politics guide to great conference speeches - and tips from actor Brian Cox


"Great, great speech. Certainly the best Brown performance I've seen. He was at ease delivering the speech... He was warm but not cheesy (unlike last year). In the big picture/vision section he was firm and inspiring, in the policy sections specific and comprehensive and in the politics of it all he was defiant and delivered some great attack lines on the Tories.... This speech has drawn the battle line in the right way for Labour: statesmanship vs showmanship and experience and substance vs inexperience and opportunism." M Areu

"Some very powerful reminders about what the govt has achieved and what we wouldn't have had under a Tory administration and a useful warning about why we must not let a Tory govt back. But at the end of the day, it's down to GB to deliver a platform that will win us the election or not. And if he can't then by his own arguments he must step down because we cannot allow another Tory govt back in to undo our achievements."Fluffy Mike

"I have to say - I've never been a fan but that was much better than I could've expected. He told a story behind the numbers, drew comparison to a cause greater than the Party and praised each cabinet member. I've wanted him gone and still would prefer that but what would be even better would be the "narrative" changes and the media give us a better hearing. Line of the speech: "Some say I'm too serious - I say there's much to be serious about." Jim Dodd

"I think he started quite well by getting straight into it and 'fessing up on the personality stuff. "Serious man for serious times" may not be a funny line, but it's a good one. Now we are getting some details - nursery places etc. I think it may set interesting challenges for Cameron's chosen tone." John DE

"My children are not props." This after just having been introduced by his wife!" Policywonk

"He is going to sort out the world finances, cure the world's sick, bring world peace, and now seemingly world equality. Is this really Gordon Brown or an imposter? He'll be promising us eternal life next." Polly's Mum

"I can't believe how bad it is. I really thought Brown might fight, but he's just read out a laundry list. The man is probably the most unsuited and incompetent PM we have had the misfortune of having." Mike, Brighton


"It was a very typical Brown speech. Poor in terms of substance. Predictable in terms of delivery. Lots of tractor figures. Low on any real detail. Lots of lists and empty promises. Business as usual then."Simon

"Several standing ovations during leader's speech reminds me of IDS. Is this the image Labour want?" Mark Pack

"I can see why some people would like Gordon Brown's rhetoric, but it's a complete turn-off for me." Will Howells

"I tried to watch but was constantly distracted by that goldfish like thing he does with his mouth." Liberal Neil



Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock has picked the most passionate Labour conference speeches, ahead of Gordon Brown's speech-of-his-life. Gordon could produce "an indulgence in sadomasachism" by following Denis Healey's example, he could try and re-create Harold Wilson's knack of "defining the age" or simply compete with Nye Bevan to become "the greatest platform orator of modern democratic politics".


Anti ID card campaigner Phil Booth failed to make to a fringe meeting earlier - because he could not get an ID card. Mr Booth had been relishing the prospect of debating the government's controversial ID scheme with Home Office minister Meg Hillier.

But when he turned up at Labour's pass office in Manchester he was told there had been a problem with his application - and it would cost him 600 for a temporary pass to enter the conference for an hour - far too pricey for an organisation which relies on voluntary donations.

"I am not so paranoid to think it was directed at me personally," said the fuming campaigner when we caught up with him later by phone.

"But if this is how they are organising the ID for their own party conference, how the heck are they going to organise ID cards for 50 million people?".

Mr Booth's speech was read out by someone from the meeting's organisers "No ID, No sale".


David Miliband has not been accused of installing phone lines just yet - as Michael Portillo famously did for his 1995 leadership bid that never was - but whispers have emerged of a fundraising operation. David 'Not Heseltine' Miliband told reporters: "Of course I have not started raising money for a leadership campaign." But is anyone else doing so on his behalf? Jackie Ashley writes from the conference floor that "strangely well-suited gents who earn big money by day and still help fund Labour by night" are being asked, "by 'them' - to fund 'David's campaign'". The Guardian columnist suggests any opponent of David's would have union funding, hence the foreign secretary's rush.



Andrew Neil talks to Kevin Maguire of The Mirror and Trevor Kavanagh of The Sun


Miliband rejects speech 'hearsay': David Miliband has dismissed a BBC story that he was overheard saying he wanted to avoid a "Heseltine moment" in his conference speech as "hearsay".

Miliband rejects speech 'hearsay'

Free NHS prescriptions for some: Patients with long-term conditions will get free prescriptions in England under plans announced by the prime minister.

Free NHS prescriptions for some

Labour Party finances 'improving': Labour's finances are improving after "real progress" in reducing their substantial debts, treasurer Jack Dromey has told the party's conference.

Labour finances 'improving'

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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