Brown urges Labour to build 'land of our dreams'

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Gordon Brown attempted to rally Labour activists in advance of his first electoral test as party leader yesterday, urging them to build "the Britain of our dreams".

In his first speech to the party since the decision not to call a general election last October, the Prime Minister conceded that he had endured several difficult months. But with only two months to go before elections to the Greater London Authority and English and Welsh local authorities, he used a speech to Labour's spring conference to insist that the party was ready to face the Tories at the polls.

"Imagine if together we build a Britain where what counts is not how high up you start, but how high you can reach," Mr Brown said, "a Britain where every parent of every child born today can watch them as they sleep and dare to believe that nothing is beyond them realising their potential."

Mr Brown's speech con-centrated on his record in "creating and sustaining a strong economy". But he pledged to refurbish or rebuild more than 300 schools within two years, to build three million homes and to ensure that half of GP surgeries are open for at least one evening or weekend session every week by next year.

In one of the most dramatic parts of the speech, at Birmingham's International Convention Centre, he underlined his commitment to eradicating child poverty, describing it as "the scar that demeans Britain".

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