Tony Blair has finally handed Gordon Brown the leadership of Britain’s Labour party. The 56-year-old Scot, who faced no direct competition for the crown, was confirmed at a special conference in Manchester. He will now take over from Tony Blair as prime minister on Wednesday.
“This week marks a new start, a chance to renew, and I say to you, the government I lead belongs to you. I will work hard for you. I will try my utmost. I am ready… ready to serve,” he said. He singled out education and the crisis in affordable housing as two of his key priorities, but he said improving the NHS was his “immediate priority”.
Justice Minister Harriet Harman was elected Labour’s next deputy leader, after winning a six-way race to replace John Prescott. It remains unclear, however, whether she will also become deputy prime minister.
Away from the mutual backslapping and camaraderie inside the conference, hundreds demonstrated outside against the war in Iraq. A pointed reminder protesters say – if Brown needed one – that a new broom must sweep clean.