Gordon Brown: I can lead Britain through economic crisis

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gordon Brown speaking at the conference
Image: Adrian Scottow.

Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, today spoke at the 2008 Labour Party conference. In his speech he described his determination to lead his party and country, in addition to claiming that the current financial situation meant that this was no time for a novice to claim a country, saying that he is the right man to lead. This speech comes as questions are raised over Brown's suitability as a leader.

Brown introduced the speech by telling the conference attendees that he wanted to discuss his reasons for leading the country. "I want to talk with you today about who I am, what I believe, what I am determined to lead this party and this great country to achieve," he said. "I know people have real concerns about the future of the country, the future of the economy and people in this hall have concerns about the future of our party too."

He then claimed that he "didn't come into politics to be a celebrity or thinking I'd always be popular." "Perhaps, that's just as well," he continued. "No, 25 years ago I asked the people of Fife to send me to parliament to serve the country I love." He then said that he "didn't come to London because I wanted to join the establishment, but because I wanted and want to change it."

I want to talk with you today about who I am, what I believe, what I am determined to lead this party and this great country to achieve

—Gordon Brown

"And so I want to give the people of this country an unconditional assurance - no ifs, no buts, no small print - my unwavering focus is taking this country through the challenging economic circumstances we face and building the fair society of the future," he said, later in the speech. "The British people would not forgive us if at this time we looked inwards to the affairs of just our party when our duty is to the interests of our country."

Brown then made more in depth comments on the credit crunch. "Each generation believes it is living through changes their parents could never have imagined - but the collapse of banks, the credit crunch, the trebling of oil prices, the speed of technology, and the rise of Asia - nobody now can be in any doubt that we are in a different world and it's now a global age," he claimed. "In truth, we haven't seen anything this big since the industrial revolution. This last week will be studied by our children - as the week the world was spun on its axis - and old certainties were turned on their heads."

Later in the speech, Brown discussed how he believes his government should deal with climate change. He also said that targets for an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions should be considered. "I am asking the climate change committee to report by October on the case for, by 2050 not a 60% reduction in our carbon emissions, but an 80% cut - and I want British companies and British workers to seize the opportunity and lead the world in the transformation to a low carbon economy and I believe that we can create in modern green manufacturing and service one million new jobs."

Is Gordon Brown the right man to lead the UK?

Labour ministers reacted positively to the speech. Jacqui Smith, the current Home Secretary, said that "I think today's speech showed that he is a great leader and a great prime minister." Foreign Secretary David Miliband, meanwhile, described the speech as 'excellent'.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne, however, responded to the speech by saying that "there was nothing really new in the speech - no apology for the mess he's got the country into and no new ideas that show us how he's going to get us out of it."