Let me take on the Tories, says Brown

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown today made his public peace with Tony Blair and urged his party to give him the chance to take on the Tories.

In his most direct appeal yet to succeed the Premier, the Chancellor told delegates at Labour's Manchester conference: "I would relish the chance to take on David Cameron and the Conservative Party."

And seeking to smooth over weeks of Labour infighting, he promised: "In that endeavour I would be determined to draw on all the talents of our party and the country."

Mr Brown also tried to lay to rest the simmering tensions between himself and the Prime Minister.

He lavished praise on Mr Blair then added: "But it's hardly surprising that as in any relationship there have been times when we have differed.

"And where over these years differences have distracted from what matters, I regret that, as I know Tony does too."

The Chancellor, watched and applauded by Mr Blair, charted his own political progress, saying he had been nurtured in values that put others first.

"And where did I learn these values? My father was a minister of the church. His motivation was not theological zeal but compassion. He told me: 'You can make your mark on the world for good or ill.'

"And my mother taught my brothers and me that whatever talents we had, however small, we should use them.

"I don't romanticise my upbringing. But my parents were more than an influence. They were - and still are - my inspiration; the reason I am in politics.

"And all I believe and all I try to do comes from the values I learned from them. They believed in duty, responsibility and respect for others.

"They believed in honesty and hard work, and that the things that matter had to be worked for."

Mr Brown went on: "Most of all my parents taught me that each of us should live by a moral compass. It was a simple faith with a fundamental optimism - that each and every one of us has a talent. Each of us has a duty to use that talent and each of us should have the chance to develop that talent.

"And my parents thought we should use whatever talent we had to help people least able to help themselves.

"And as I grew up surrounded by books, sport, music and encouragement, I saw at school and beyond how some flourished and others, denied these opportunities, fell behind.

"They had talent, they had ability but they did not have the chance to fulfil their promise. They needed someone to champion them. They needed the support of people on their side.

"And is not our history the story of, yes, progress through fulfilled talents, even genius of some but yes, also, of the wasted potential of millions, for too many their talents lost and forever unfulfilled.

"That's why I joined the Labour Party - out of faith, faith in people, that they should have the opportunities to realise their potential.

"And I believed then and I believe now that at all times the Labour Party must stand for more than a programme. We must have a soul."

Mr Brown, who once shared a Commons office with the Premier when they were Labour backbenchers, told delegates: "I will never forget the only reason any of us are here is that we are in politics as servants of the people.

"And Tony - from the first time we shared that office in 1983 to today - you taught our party, you saw it right, you saw it clearly and you saw it through: that we can't just be for one section of society, we've got to be for all society."

He went on: "The renewal of New Labour must and will be built upon these essential truths: a flexible economy, reformed and personalised public services, public and private sectors not at odds but working together so that we can truly deliver opportunity and security not just for some but for all.

"As a party and a Government we have climbed a huge mountain. But we must now climb many more and even more challenging mountains ahead."