Brown pledge to 'fight every inch of the way'

Gordon Brown admitted he was the underdog for general election today, but insisted he was ready to "fight" for Britain.

The Prime Minister said voters faced a "big choice" between the Tories promise of "austerity" and Labour's plans to encourage "aspiration".

He also rejected claims that he was engaging in class warfare against David Cameron, and dismissed suggestions of splits in Labour's top team.

Asked whether he was the underdog in the coming fight, Mr Brown told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "I think when you are behind in the polls you have got to regard yourself as the fighter.

"Everything I have ever won in my life I have had to fight for...

"People will see they have a choice to make and the choice is between someone who is ready to fight for every aspect of Britain's future, and will not stop fighting."

Mr Brown said he "believed" there would be a Budget in the spring, but insisted he would not be "boxed in" on dates for a general election.

He also denied suggestions of tensions over campaign tactics between key Labour figures, such as Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and Commons Leader Harriet Harman.

"They are both going to be playing big roles in the election campaign, and every part of this Labour Cabinet is a team, it works well, and it is a team that will be fighting an election on the big issues," Mr Brown said.

Asked about persistent discontent among his party's rank and file, with former home secretary Charles Clarke having reportedly organised a "bring a rebel" event recently, Mr Brown said: "I don't really worry too much about that. The issue is not about internal debates in one party. It is about the country."

And he turned his fire on the Tories, insisting Mr Cameron had hoped to win without his own policies being scrutinised.

"I think the Conservatives wanted an election that was essentially a referendum on Labour. Then they thought they would get a referendum on the small issues.

"This is an election on the big issues."

The Prime Minister said the Tories had got "everything" wrong on the economic crisis, and would make the situation worse by cutting public spending too early.

"I believe in an age of aspiration, of opportunity and prosperity," he said. "I am afraid the Conservatives have gone for an age of austerity, and that means the majority of hard working families suffer as a result."

He added: "I've managed this country through good times and difficult economic times and we can manage this country through the next stage which is returning to growth, through higher levels of growth and higher levels of employment."

Quizzed about his barb at Mr Cameron in the Commons that Conservative policy on inheritance tax had been dreamed up "on the playing fields of Eton", Mr Brown played down its significance.

"It was a Commons joke. Quite an effective one, I hope," he said.

"I don't attack him for being a toff. I attack him for having the wrong views."

He added: "If you think the playing fields of Eton was anything other than a joke then I am afraid you take your politics too seriously."

With many predicting the election - due by June - could result in a hung parliament with the Lib Dems holding the balance of power, Mr Brown appeared to hold out an olive branch to the third party.

Quizzed on the possibility of a coalition, he said the Lib Dems were "closer" to Labour than the Tories on key policy areas.

"There is an agreement of ideas and of course the Liberals I think are closer to us on tax and public services," Mr Brown said.

"There is obviously the possibility of people working in common harmony. But equally we have got party politics there in the way."

He went on: "Our policies appeal to Liberal voters, because we are for Alternative Vote System, we are for reform of the House of Lords, we are for recall of Members of Parliament who commit fraud, and equally at the same time we have got policies on the environment and on civil liberties that are not dissimilar to them.

"But as for the fighting of the election, we, the Labour Party, will fight every inch of the way."

The intervention came after Mr Cameron made a similar veiled overture, stressing in his New Year message that Conservative differences with the Lib Dems had become less significant recently.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?