Brown welcomes leadership fight

Gordon Brown has said he is looking forward to a comprehensive policy debate to “resolve the leadership issue” following the departure of Tony Blair.

Speaking in an interview with the BBC today, Gordon Brown echoed the prime minister’s calls for a discussion about ideas and policy to unite the party behind one leader. The chancellor went on to lay out his credentials for fulfilling that role.

“I’m ready to help this country move into its new generation,” he said.

“There is going to be a debate about the future. I do think that everybody should feel part of it, people of all views in the Labour party. I would like it to feel incredibly inclusive, not just in the party but in the country as well.”

He rebuffed recent attacks by former home secretary Charles Clarke, who in the last two days had called him a “control freak” and described him as “deluded”, saying: “I’m not going to hold against him statements that he made.”

Instead, Mr Brown said he would consider Mr Clarke, along with other Blairite cabinet members including Alan Johnson, Ed Miliband and John Reid, for future ministerial roles, after he had beaten them in the race to be leader.

“I think it’s good for the party if there’s an election. I’ve got no difficulty and certainly no personal issue about other people standing. I think it’s important to resolve the issue of leadership when that happens,” he said.

Mr Brown also did his best to shrug off the furore of speculation which has exacerbated the internal tensions within the Labour party in the last week. “Rumours grow and grow and grow,” he said ruefully, adding that in a widely-publicised photograph of him grinning after leaving a meeting with Mr Blair he was “smiling about my baby – it was nothing to do with politics”.

The subject of his role as a father was deliberately raised by Mr Brown at several times in the interview, allowing him to reveal his political motivation to an audience which, as he admitted, had not yet needed to see much of his personality.

“If I were to do anything in the rest of my political career, it’s to ensure it’s always possible that every child in my country has the best possible start in life,” he said.

“Perhaps I’ve come to this from being a father more than before I was a father, but it’s the essence of the good society.”