Brown sets out Labour's election pledges

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Gordon Brown today promised to make his government properly accountable to voters as he set out Labour's five key election pledges.



The Prime Minister acknowledged there was deep scepticism about what politicians said they would do with power.



But he insisted that his pledges were "deliverable" and that ministers' jobs would be on the line if they were not achieved.



Mr Brown pledged that Labour would:



* Secure the economic recovery and halve the budget deficit - currently £167 billion - through economic growth, fair taxes and cuts to lower priority spending;



* Raise family living standards, with low mortgage rates, increased tax credits for families with young children, helping first-time buyers and re-linking the state pension with earnings from 2012;



* Build a "high tech" economy, with support for businesses and industry in creating one million new skilled jobs and the delivery of high-speed rail, a green investment bank and broadband access for all.



* Protect frontline investment in policing, schools, childcare and the NHS, as well as a guarantee of cancer test results within a week.



* Strengthen fairness in communities through an Australian style points-based system to control immigration, guarantees of education, apprenticeships and jobs for young people, and a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.



"Each is substantial, it's deliverable and it's carefully costed," Mr Brown said at a rally with Labour activists in Nottingham.



He went on: "I know that in this time of cynicism and lack of trust in politics, there are some people who will say that politicians will promise the earth but never deliver, that a pledge isn't worth the paper it is written on.



"And I understand that, but these are not general pledges without dates, without tests, without scrutiny. These are our pledge to every single citizen, tied to timetables, regular reporting and proof of performance."

The Prime Minister said that there would be new public annual contracts for Cabinet ministers, setting out in detail what they would achieve.

Their positions would be subject to delivery - "just as it would be in a business or any other organisation", he said.



Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell would be asked to "performance manage" the top civil servant in each Whitehall department against their delivery of the Government's pledges.



And Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, will be working on creating "maximum possible information available to the public at all times".



"This rapid extension of transparency will show in real time how government are delivering against our pledges," Mr Brown said.



He said that to be in government was "an honour" - and if Labour was re-elected he was not prepared to "waste a single second".



"We have big plans for this country - and we intend to see them through," he said.



Labour's five key pledges come with less than six weeks to go until the general election expected on May 6.



While Labour are behind the Tories in the polls, the gap has narrowed recently and there are strong indications of a hung parliament.



The Prime Minister acknowledged today that Labour was "the underdog" - but insisted he was fighting to win.



"Let the message go out from Nottingham - we may be the underdog but we are the people's party and we never give up," he said.



"And remember in the next few weeks, every step forward we make, every advance we achieve, every family whose aspirations we can meet is a victory not just for us, but for that fundamental desire for decency of the British people.



"Every time we change a life, we change the world. We've done it before and we will do it again.



"We are fighting for Britain's future - and we intend to win."



Mr Brown said voters faced a choice at the forthcoming election as historic as that at the 1997 election, when Labour was swept to power after 18 years of Tory rule.



"In the history of each nation there are moments of clear decision, moments when paths are chosen and decisions made that impact not only the months or years to come, but shape the whole course of the decades that follow," he said,



"So it was in 1997, and so it is today, in 2010."



The Prime Minister also warned of the consequences of electing a Tory government, insisting the choice was between "austerity" under David Cameron or "prosperity" under himself.



"In the dawn of this new decade, Britain faces the biggest choice for a generation," he said.



"It is a choice about whether we want to continue on the road to economic recovery or want to turn off, whether we believe that we can face the biggest challenges with the strength of a community around us, or whether every individual should simply be left to sink or swim.



"The choice is real, the risks are real, and let us be clear, the consequences are real.



"If we get it wrong, we face what (the Tories) themselves call an age of austerity. If we get it right, we can achieve an age of shared prosperity."



But shadow schools secretary Michael Gove said: "After an empty Budget we have five empty pledges.



"Gordon Brown is the man who claimed he had ended the economic cycle and then gave us the biggest boom followed by the biggest bust. He cannot be trusted to secure the recovery.



"The choice at the next election is clear. Five more years of Gordon Brown's tired Government making things worse, or David Cameron and the Conservatives with the energy, leadership and values to get the country moving."

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