Prime Minister Gordon Brown defied his critics on Tuesday, vowing to stick by his beliefs and fight to make life better for people living in Britain.
Brown’s speech to his ruling Labour Party’s annual conference contained few significant new policies or spending measures and may not stop some lawmakers from within the party questioning his leadership.
After 11 years in power, Labour is lagging about 20 points behind the opposition Conservatives in opinion polls, putting it on course for a crushing defeat at the next parliamentary election, due by mid-2010.
”I know that the way to deal with tough times is to face them down. Stay true to your beliefs,” said Brown, who took over from Tony Blair as Labour leader last June without an election.
”Understand that all the attacks, all the polls, all the headlines, all the criticism, it’s all worth it, if in doing this job I make life better for one child, one family, one community,” the former finance minister said.
Brown focused in his speech on improving healthcare and education, giving everyone in society a fair chance and reforming the global financial system to avert a repeat of the crisis that has brought down major banks.
Who can beat Gordon Brown?
”Who can beat Gordon Brown in terms of experience, understanding and the ability to speak from the heart? This was the time for a big speech and he delivered,” said Claudia Webbe, a delegate to the conference.
The prime minister lacks his predecessor’s easy charm and some Labour lawmakers have openly called for a leadership contest, fearing an electoral wipeout unless they appoint a better communicator. But Brown insisted he would not change.
”I didn’t come into politics to be a celebrity or thinking I would always be popular. Perhaps, that’s just as well … So I’m not going to try to be something I’m not,” Brown said.
”If people say I’m too serious, quite honestly there is a lot to be serious about.”
Talk of the need for a challenger has grown in the past months as Britain has grappled with economic woes and Brown’s government has faced accusations of being slow and indecisive over a range of issues.
The economy was once the jewel in Labour’s crown. Inflation is now double the target, unemployment is rising at its fastest rate since the early 1990s and the housing market has crashed, pushing Britain towards its first recession in 16 years.
Brown pledged to push for tighter regulation of financial markets and for bank executives to take more responsibility when he meets officials from around the world later this week.
”Global standards and supervision because the flows of capital are global, then supervision can no longer just be national but has to be global.”
”And if we make these changes I believe London will retain its rightful place as the financial centre of the world.” – Reuters