What a horrible year I've had, says Brown

PM in reflective mood at final press conference before recess

Gordon Brown admitted yesterday that he had endured a "difficult year" – but insisted he could still defy the odds to lead Labour to victory at the general election.

As the outspoken, outgoing Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown described Mr Brown's election prospects as "incredibly bleak", the Prime Minister conceded that what he called his "tough decisions" had dented Labour's popularity in the short term. But he insisted that voters would recognise their long-term merits when they had to make a choice between Labour and the Conservatives rather than give a mid-term referendum verdict on the Government.

Asked at his final Downing Street press conference before his summer break whether he had had an "annus horribilis", Mr Brown replied: "It has been a difficult year because we have had to make tough decisions and tough choices." But he added that it had not been the "most difficult" he had experienced.

He admitted he had been "tested by events" such as the financial crisis and the MPs' expenses scandal, arguing that no British government had ever had to cope with two such huge problems at the same time. "We will stick by our course and we will be judged by the results of our policies," he said.

Mr Brown said that more "tough choices" lay ahead on public spending but stopped short of endorsing the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson's warning last week that Britain faced 10 years of austerity on spending.

Dismissing opinion polls suggesting that four out of five voters believe substantial spending cuts would be needed, the Prime Minister said: "It depends how you ask these questions. If you were asking people do you want your numbers of nurses and numbers of doctors and the improvements in your hospitals to be safeguarded, they would say yes. I think the answer from the British public when you look at specific services on which people depend, is that they would prefer to see these services protected."

Mr Brown insisted that the "dividing line" in politics was between a Labour Party which had intervened to safeguard at least 500,000 jobs during the recession and a Conservative Party that would let the recession "run its course" and allow unemployment to rise.

"We have got to spend through this recession so that we can invest for the future," he said, adding that future spending would depend on growth and employment, and that Labour was the party that could be trusted with public services.

Mr Brown said he would take only "a few days' holiday", suggesting that his family break in the Lake District would be a short one. He is expected to spend most of August at his Scottish home before returning to Downing Street towards the end of the month. He said he intended to relax with his two sons and "watch a lot of sport" during his own holiday.

Defending the Commons' 82-day summer recess, he said MPs would spend "most of the time" working. "An MP's job is to be both a constituency representative and to be someone who votes and discusses these matters in the House of Commons. If an MP's job was only to be in the Commons then you would have a case. But an MP's job is also to be in the constituency, and listening to people."

On the economy, Mr Brown said: "The Government's action will shorten the recession and it will reduce its impact... There is no room for complacency. The world economy remains fragile, economic recovery cannot be taken for granted either here or abroad."

Goodbye to all that...

Gordon's lows

* Labour's defeat in Glasgow East by-election a year ago

* Aide Damian McBride quits

* Embarrassing YouTube video on MPs' expenses in April

* Commons defeat on Gurkhas

* Resignation of James Purnell

Gordon's highs

* Rescuing banks last October

* Making up with Mandelson

* Labour win in Glenrothes by-election last November

* G20 London summit in April

* Surviving coup last month

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
News
James Corden’s social media footprint was a factor for CBS
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Arts and Entertainment
Master of ceremony: Jeremy Paxman
tvReview: Victory for Jeremy Paxman in this absorbing, revealing tale
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - 9-12 Months

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Accounts Assistant is immedi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Communications Executive

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - London, £60k

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA (SSIS, ETL) - Central London, £60,000...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness