Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Saturday, 16 January 2010

Gordon Brown targets middle class voters in speech

Gordon Brown targets middle class voters in speech

Gordon Brown has set out to reassure "middle class families" that Labour is their party in a campaigning speech.

The prime minister said Labour would create "more middle class jobs than ever before" and the party represents the "mainstream majority".

He also suggested middle class voters would suffer disproportionately under Tory plans to cut public spending.

It comes after shadow chancellor George Osborne promised cuts this year if the Conservatives win the general election.

In the past, Mr Brown's opponents have accused him of waging a class war.

BBC political reporter Robin Brant said the subject of the speech was quite "brazen".

"What's very clear is that Gordon Brown has acknowledged that if Labour have any chance of securing a fourth term in office it's got to go beyond the hardcore and it has to appeal to non-traditional Labour voters," our correspondent said.

The idea that a man who has spent his whole career at war with the middle classes can be their champion is laughable
Philip Hammond
Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury

In a message that appears to rule out suggestions he would pursue a "core vote" strategy, the prime minister promised "a New Labour programme for the new decade".

He said a future Labour government would help people use the education system to get better jobs that would mean they could aspire to home ownership and foreign holidays.

Mr Brown said "social mobility" would be his party's "theme for the coming election and the coming Parliamentary term".

He said: "A fair society is one where everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has a chance to fulfil their dreams whether that's owning a bigger house, taking a holiday abroad, buying a new car or starting a small business.

"And this is the next project for New Labour, our next generation project... The coming decade will provide the UK with more middle class jobs than ever before."

Mr Brown added that in the next decade, only 10% of jobs will be unskilled - the "biggest number of middle class jobs in our history".

He said he would achieve this through education and that a target would be set of 75% of people aged under 30 to have access to either university or technical college.

Mr Brown also said he has learned lessons from the financial and political crises of the last two years.

Proposed Tory cuts

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond has accused Gordon Brown of crippling the social mobility of the middle classes.

He said: "One minute Gordon Brown's a class warrior, the next he is a friend of middle Britain.

"Middle Britain won't forget that it was Gordon Brown who destroyed their pensions, increased their taxes and crippled social mobility.

"The idea that a man who has spent his whole career at war with the middle classes can be their champion is laughable."

The Conservatives have announced that they would start cutting back on state spending immediately after taking office if the party takes power at the election, which is widely expected to be held in May.

Mr Osborne said his party would be ready to make in-year reductions in Labour's £707bn spending plans for 2010/11, which were set out in last month's Pre-Budget Report.

The shadow chancellor named spending on advertising and consultants, tax credits for people earning more than £50,000 and Child Trust Funds for better-off families as items which would be cut during the coming financial year.

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