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'I am proud to be Scottish and British. Valuing our shared purpose as a country will be critical to our success'.

Byline: By TOMOS LIVINGSTONE Western Mail

Gordon brown apologised yesterday for the disagreements with Tony Blair that have dogged Labour in office as he set out his own case to be Prime Minister. In a well-received conference speech, Mr Brown, who is expected to take over when Mr Blair steps down in the next 12 months, promised the New Labour project would continue on his watch and praised the 'immense contribution' made by Mr Blair.

He said, 'It's hardly surprising that as in any relationship, there have been times when we've differed. And where over these years differences have distracted from what matters, I regret that, and Tony does too.'

Allies of the two men hope the warm words will help defuse the succession row that exploded at the start of the month, with 15 loyal MPs calling on Mr Blair to go.

He has said he will leave within a year, but has refused to endorse Mr Brown.

And the rows were re-opened again last night when it was reported Mr Blair's wife Cherie had questioned the sincerity of the Chancellor's words. The Bloomberg news agency reported she had exclaimed 'that's a lie' when Mr Brown said the two men had worked well together. Downing Street dismissed the reports as untrue.

Mr Brown described himself as a 'quite private person' who had been inspired to get involved in politics by the values passed on by his parents. He denied he had become obsessed with the idea of Britishness, and got the loudest cheer of all when he said he could not wait to take on David Cameron's Conservatives.

'At all times the Labour party must stand for more than a programme; we must have a soul,' he told party delegates in Manchester. And in a bid to appeal to the middle-class voters won over to Labour by Mr Blair, he talked of a Britain where people 'rightly [have] higher aspirations for themselves and their families than ever before'.

He added, 'Here is the deal the next decade must offer: no matter your class, colour or creed, the equal opportunity to use your talents.

'In return we expect and demand responsibility, an acceptance there are common standards and rules to be upheld.'

On Britishness he said, 'Some people say I'm talking about Britishness because I'm now embarrassed about being Scottish. Let me say I am proud to be Scottish and British. No, the reason I make speeches about my pride in Britain and Britishness is that valuing our shared purpose as a country will be as critical to our success and cohesion in this new century as it was in the last.'

He repeated his view that immigrants to Britain should learn English, and promised to be tough on terrorism, hinting that as Prime Minister he would extend the controversial 28-day detention period for terror suspects.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said afterwards, 'I thought we saw the real Gordon. There was a 40-second period where he said this is me, this is what I believe in. If politics is about image you should get another guy.'

Caerphilly MP Wayne David, one of 15 loyalist MPs who earlier this month called in a letter on Mr Blair to go, said, 'I think it was a unifying speech for the party and an inspirational speech for the country. I think he came across as sincere and as someone who has depth and substance and puts that above image.'

Wrexham MP Ian Lucas, another signatory to the letter, said the speech was 'an indication that he is about doing the job and not about personality...a counterpoint to the presentational skills that perhaps the Prime Minister and David Cameron have.'

Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said, 'There was enough in his speech to give us hope that he will listen about the direction of reform. Not so much the speech of a Chancellor, more of one setting out his stall for the leadership of the party.

'The devil is in the detail and we do want to talk about his ideas for renewal and whether they are policies we can work with.' The speech was criticised by the biggest Civil Service union which is fighting tens of thousands of job cuts. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said, 'Gordon Brown said nothing to reassure the tens of thousands of civil servants who are losing their jobs or facing privatisation. 'He talked tough about enforcing the minimum wage but there are now fewer inspections because of his job cuts.': BROWN STUDIES: Key passages from Gordon Brown's address to the Labour party conference On Tony Blair 'I've worked with Tony Blair for almost 10 years as Chancellor - the longest relationship of any Prime Minister and Chancellor in history. 'And it has been a privilege for me to work with and for the most successful ever Labour leader and Labour Prime Minister.'

On Britishness

'I am proud to be Scottish and British.

'It's true that globalisation could mean a free-for-all, a turning inwards, a new protectionism, even a break up of community life.

'So these times challenge us to ask - what kind of society do we together want to become?

'I believe the answer is that we the British people must be far more explicit about the common ground on which we stand.'

On going to war

'It is in my view right that in future, parliament, not the executive, makes the final decisions on matters as important as peace and war'

On the Arctic Monkeys

'It will not be a surprise to you to learn I'm more interested in the future of the arctic circle than the future of the Arctic Monkeys'

On language and citizenship 'Let me say something which I know is controversial but I know needs to be said: if we are to uphold these values that matter most we need not only respect for all traditions but also a common language. 'It is right that people who come to and are in this country to stay learn English.' On devolving power 'When I made the Bank of England independent, and to build trust in economic decision-making, I gave executive power away and I want a radical shift of power from the centre.' On politics and public life 'If being in public life becomes about image above all else then I don't believe politics would be serving the public.' On the Labour leadership 'I would relish the opportunity to take on David Cameron and the Conservative Party. 'And in that endeavour I would be determined to draw on all the talents of our party and country.'
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Title Annotation:News Ban Young Guns
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 26, 2006
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