Brown make prices pledge after defeat

Gordon Brown today vowed to do "whatever is necessary" to help people struggling with rising food and fuel prices in the wake of Labour's catastrophic defeat in the Glasgow East by-election.

The Prime Minister, who earlier brushed off a call by Tory leader David Cameron for a General Election, insisted that he understood popular concerns at a time of global economic problems.

Chancellor Alistair Darling, speaking on BBC Radio, responded to the poll results by insisting that Mr Brown was still the best man to lead the party.

Mr Brown addressed Labour's National Policy Forum at the Warwick University campus in Coventry, and promised new measures in the coming weeks to help people cope with the pressures of energy costs.

"We understand and we hear people's concerns," he said.

"We will do whatever is necessary over the next few months to help hard-working families through these difficult times."

Mr Brown praised Margaret Curran, the defeated Labour candidate in Glasgow East, saying that she had fought an "excellent" campaign.

He stressed that with oil prices having trebled over the last two years and food shortages pushing up prices, he said that every country in the world was affected by the current economic difficulties.

"Coming from ordinary families as we do and have done, we know what it is like when people go to the supermarket and find that the price of milk, and the price of bread, and the price of eggs have gone up dramatically in recent months," he said.

"We know that our role when facing global economic challenges is to be on the side of hard-working families, on the side of the people of Britain."

Mr Brown promised that the Government would introduce further measures over the coming months to help people with the current economic difficulties.

"We know that, while the problem is global, it affects people in every local community," he said.

"And that's why, over the next few months, we will see in housing and in gas and electricity bills and in energy, us doing more to help the hard-working families of this country."

The Prime Minister, appearing relaxed and speaking without notes, said global demand for energy resources was outstripping supply.

And he said the first "big policy change" is to reduce dependence on oil.

"It's good for the environment, it's good for people, it's good for the energy security of the world," he said.

Mr Brown said the way to keep up with the rest of the world was to invest in people's skills.

"The key to how we survive is by investing in the people of our country," he said.

Mr Brown said that if the Tories were elected they would push through a £12 billion tax cut paid for by cuts to health, education and other frontline services.

"I don't want to wake up and find that there are massive tax cuts being given to the fewest and the richest and the wealthiest people of this country at the expense of cutting the public services of this country," he said.

He ended with a rallying call to activists to have confidence in the party's values, "whatever the setbacks and difficulties" that lay ahead.

"Whatever these difficulties, have confidence that not only do we have the right the policies, but when the time comes we will be able to persuade the British people," he said.

Chancellor Alistair Darling, speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World at One, insisted that Mr Brown was still the best man to lead the party.

"I believe that Gordon Brown is the best Prime Minister. He is the best leader of our party. He has a very clear sense of direction where he believes we as a country ought to go," he said.

Universities Secretary John Denham said that simply changing leader would not solve the concerns that led voters to turn against Labour.

"What I think would not help us at the moment is to have that sort of debate. I don't think chopping and changing leaders addresses those concerns. I think it is a bit of illusion," he told BBC News 24.

"We have got to show that on the things that really matter to people, we are going to deliver the goods."

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears was also supportive of the Prime Minister, and said the Glasgow by-election was an example of "people hitting out at the Government" about the current state of the economy.

She said: "The easy thing to do in times that are tough - and times are tough - is for a party to cut and run. That's not the Labour Party and that's not Gordon Brown.

"I think this election result is a very bad result for us. It's very difficult, but I think it's about the economy."

Outside the conference, members of local Conservative groups gathered to demonstrate their opposition.

Wearing Gordon Brown masks and carrying placards which read "Back to the old days," and "Back to the 70s with Labour", the group watched silently as Mr Brown was greeted with applause.

Kieran Bruggy, from the Coventry Conservative Association, said: "We came along to remind them that we are a vibrant Opposition who are a government in waiting and we are waiting to take control of Downing Street again.

"In Glasgow East, Labour has lost one of their safest seats. This quite clearly shows that people are very concerned about the economic crisis that we face."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?