Brown to launch campaign with pitch to middle classes

PM's set-piece speech in Coventry will lay out themes for general election
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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown is to set out Labour's pitch for the next election tomorrow, in an attempt to ward off Tory efforts to win the support of key swing voters.

It is understood that the Prime Minister will use the high-profile speech in Coventry to appeal to middle class voters who were vital in delivering New Labour three consecutive election victories. He will also spell out the four themes for the election and reveal the slogans Labour will deploy during the campaign.

Mr Brown is expected to claim that the Tories cannot be trusted to nurse the country's economy back to health as he focuses on the themes of securing the economic recovery, safeguarding public services, fostering the development of new, green jobs and "standing up" for the many.

It is hoped that the timing of the speech will detract attention from a series of embarrassing stories about Mr Brown set to be revealed over the weekend. Officials inside No 10 are bracing themselves for some uncomfortable reading when the first extracts of the book on the last years of the Labour Government, by columnist Andrew Rawnsley, are published on Sunday.

The Cabinet's biggest hitters, including Alistair Darling, Lord Mandelson and Alan Johnson will be present at the West Midlands event as Labour will attempt to wrest control of the election phoney war from the Tories. They hope to underline their belief that the Government has won the argument on the economy, after Mr Cameron appeared to soften his party's line on making major cuts to Britain's £175bn budget deficit this year.

It is the latest sign that Mr Brown is preparing to officially announce the ballot date, expected by many to be 6 May to coincide with local elections. This week, Labour also sent out applications for journalists to gain accreditation for its regular campaign events. However, ministers still maintain that the date had not been decided. "Every time Gordon discusses it, he says no one should be so sure that 6 May is the date," one told The Independent. "April is still a possibility." The poll must take place by 3 June.

In another speech to be made in London today, the Prime Minister will set out his message to middle class voters. The strategy emerges just days after the Tories launched a new poster campaign designed to win support from voters who had never backed the party before. Mr Brown will warn voters considering switching their support to the Tories that David Cameron has failed to modernise the party. "All over the world, the new tactic of the right is to present themselves as moderate and mainstream. But when the tough questions are asked of them, the truth is revealed," Mr Brown is expected to say.

"Instead of helping a recovery, their hatred of government action would risk the recovery. Instead of supporting middle classes, their policies would hurt the middle classes." He will also warn that the Conservatives retain an "isolationist" approach that would "pull Britain into isolation and irrelevance".

The Labour manifesto, setting out the future programme should the party win a fourth term in office, is not expected to be announced over the weekend. Insiders are billing the document as radical and a sign that Labour "has not run out of steam". Constitutional reform and a commitment to build a high-speed rail network will be included.

No 10 aides hope that the speeches will help build on his party's recent rally in the polls.