Leadership: Brown will pledge to keep up 'New Labour' reforms

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown will pledge today that he would be a "New Labour" Prime Minister if he succeeds Tony Blair and would extend rather than retreat from his reforms.

In his speech to the Labour conference in Brighton, the Chancellor will scotch suggestions that he would take the party to the left after Mr Blair stands down. Some Blair allies have expressed concern that Mr Brown would vacate the political centre ground and seek to woo progressive voters who switched to the Liberal Democrats at this year's general election.

But Mr Brown will declare: "The next election must and will be New Labour renewed against a Conservative Party today incapable of renewal."

His decision to stick with the New Labour label is highly significant. Two years ago, Mr Brown laid bare the tensions between him and Mr Blair over the Government's direction by deliberately avoiding Mr Blair's brand.

In a riposte to Mr Blair's statement about "New Labour being at our best when we are at our boldest", Mr Brown pointedly told Labour's 2003 conference that the party was "best when we are Labour". That provoked speculation that he would revert to a "real Labour" agenda if he became Prime Minister.

Mr Brown's pledge to stick with New Labour reflects a truce between him and Mr Blair - although tensions remain below the surface about the timing of the Prime Minister's departure.

The Chancellor will make clear in today's speech that there would still be much unfinished business for him to complete, despite what he will hail as the Blair government's achievements since 1997.

His message is that it will constantly have to renew itself if it is to remain in office. He will say: "When they [the Tories] tell you at the next election we will abandon reform, tell them the Labour Party was founded so that our values could reform Britain, that the great Labour governments of the last century were great because they were reforming progressive governments that transformed Britain, and that the only future of the Labour Party is as the party of reform.

"So our task now is the renewal of New Labour - the creation of a progressive consensus - essential for the next stage in the renewal of Britain."

Mr Brown will concede that Britain is still a country of "too little opportunity, little responsibility and little community".

Listing the challenges for Labour in the next decade, he will highlight parents struggling to balance work and family life; women wanting full equality; young people wanting to make the most of themselves in education, business and sport; pensioners enjoying longer and fuller lives free from the fear of crime; community groups searching to have their voices heard; and better relations between racial and religious groups.

He will promise that his Pre-Budget Report in November will include plans for one million new homes; enabling more workers to own shares in their firms and ensuring that five million children without any assets today will have a Child Trust Fund by 2010.

In an echo of Margaret Thatcher, Mr Brown will promise to create "a home-owning, share-owning, asset-owning, wealth-owning democracy". But he will insist that, unlike the Tories, Labour would ensure these benefits were "not just for some but for all".

He will tell Labour it must meet rising individual aspirations, "the new 21st century individualism", while ensuring that a "new 21st-century citizenship" can enable people to contribute to community life.

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