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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
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: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own