Page last updated at 19:56 GMT, Monday, 11 January 2010

We can win election, Brown tells Labour

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown says he is getting on with business of government

Gordon Brown has been seeking to rally Labour MPs by setting out his election strategy and telling them they can defeat the Conservatives.

The prime minister appeared with his election team at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

He said economic recovery would be the platform for a Labour victory at the general election, expected in May.

Earlier, his closest ally, Schools Secretary Ed Balls, denied splits within Labour over strategy.

Former cabinet ministers Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt wrote to all Labour MPs last week, urging them to hold a secret ballot on Mr Brown's leadership, but this failed to gain significant support.


There have also been reports that Labour's top team is divided over election strategy.

At the meeting, Mr Brown attempted to boost morale by saying of the Tories: "We can beat them. We must beat them. And we will beat them."

He argued that the election would not be a choice between change and the status quo, but between the right kind of change and the wrong kind of change.

Nick Robinson
All of this stems from the same thing: politicians having to rewrite their pledges in response to the fact that there is very little money around for them to spend
Nick Robinson
BBC's political editor

The prime minister said Labour would fight on its record but that record in itself was not enough.

Mr Brown was joined by election co-ordinator Douglas Alexander, strategy chairman Lord Mandelson and Harriet Harman, director of the party's day-to-day campaigning.

The meeting followed the launch by Mr Brown and Mr Balls of a scheme to put laptops and broadband in the homes of 270,000 low-income families.

"Just as today I set out with Ed Balls Labour's aspiration to make every home a broadband home, so too, from now until polling day, will all the cabinet set out Labour's aspirations for a better future for Britain than the Tories could ever promise," Mr Brown was expected to say.

"We cannot and will not fight the election on small ideas but on big ideas. And so we will contrast Labour, the party of aspiration, with the Tories, the party whose only pledge to the mainstream majority is one of austerity."

'Important statement'

After the meeting, Tony Lloyd, chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said there had been an "overwhelming will to win" and that rebels had "expressed their doubts" and should move on.

Labour MP Stephen Pound said: "What happened tonight was put up or shut up time. What rebels there were last week decided to shut up.

"There was an important statement that the prime minister made. He said he was not a team of one but part of a team of many. That's a very different Gordon Brown, a collegiate Gordon Brown."

At the weekend, Chancellor Alistair Darling warned of the toughest spending cuts in 20 years, which some commentators saw as being odds with the message Mr Brown wishes to convey.

Mr Balls said was this did not represent a change of emphasis or policy following the failure of the Hoon-Hewitt plot.

He told the BBC Mr Darling's comments had been in line with last month's pre-Budget report and with speeches Mr Balls and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson had made in June.

Mr Balls said the "incredible contrasts" were not between him and Mr Darling but between Labour, which wanted to halve the deficit over four years and protect frontline services, and the Conservatives.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband, one of the cabinet members who was accused of giving Mr Brown a belated and lukewarm endorsement after the attempt to unseat him, told BBC Radio 4's World at One it was essential that Labour "leads the country forward".

He added: "I have worked with Gordon since the early 1990s - nearly 20 years. He has enormous strengths and very, very strong beliefs and real determination to do what is right for people.

"He has the ability to think in radical ways in some of the most difficult and pressurised situations."

Asked why he had not originally been more positive about the prime minister, Mr Miliband said he had "been absolutely clear that it was important not to over-react" to the letter.

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Times Online Poll shows failed coup hit Labour hopes - 3 hrs ago
Telegraph Gordon Brown: I am not a team of one. I'm one of a team - 4 hrs ago
The Independent Labour MPs rally behind Brown after plot - 12 hrs ago
Financial Times Labour puts on display of solidarity - 16 hrs ago
Irish Times Brown to set out election strategy - 23 hrs ago

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