Not just new policies but a soul. That is what Gordon Brown has promised to bring to the UK’s Labour Party on becoming its leader. He will succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister on Wednesday. Domestically, his priorities are expected to be health, education and affordable housing. Internationally, Brown evoked a new focus in the fight against terrorism: “Our foreign policy in the years ahead will reflect the truth that to isolate and defeat terrorist extremism now involves more than military force. It is also a struggle of ideas and ideals that in the coming years will be waged and won for hearts and minds here at home and around the world.”
Outside the Labour conference in Manchester, anti-war campaigners called for the unelected leader-to-be to bring British soldiers back from Iraq. Brown has said errors were made in the conflict but has not mentioned speeding up the troop withdrawal.
Elected as Brown’s deputy though was Harriet Harman, a vocal critic of the war, and also the government’s style. She told party members: “You’ve spelled out loud and clear how you want our politics to change and the issues where you want further action. You’ve said you have joined the party to have a say – not just to be a leadership supporters’ club.”
Many Labour critics of the Blair era had become disillusioned with spin and media manipulation. After thirteen years as Blair’s understudy, Brown can now mould the party as he sees fit.