‘Humble’ Brown accepts leadership

Prime minister-elect Gordon Brown said he was “truly humbled” to have been appointed Labour leader.

Mr Brown was chosen as Labour leader after a landslide of 313 Labour MPs followed Tony Blair’s lead and nominated him.

Amid criticisms that Labour party members had not been able to endorse his promotion, Mr Brown said: “The scale of nominations shows to country a party wholly united in its determination not to retreat into the past but to go forward as New Labour.”

While the Labour party may be united, Mr Brown’s acceptance speech contained a veiled acknowledgement that Mr Blair had split the country during his ten years at Number 10.

Mr Brown pledged to launch a new kind of politics as prime minister, promising to re-build trust in politics by listening to the electorate.

He appealed to those who are cynical about government: “I will strive to earn your trust. To earn your trust not just in foreign policy, but in schools, hospitals and public services.”

Mr Brown will now have to wait until June 24th to be formally appointed leader at a special Labour party conference. Mr Blair will then exit Downing Street on June 27th.

With an atypical inauguration period facing him, Mr Brown said he would spend the next six weeks touring the country and listening to the electorate.

He said: “To build trust in our democracy, I’m sure we need a more open form of dialogue.

“It is about a different type of politics. A more open and honest dialogue; frank about problems, candid about dilemmas, never losing touch with the concerns of people.”

Mr Brown has been persistently dogged by a “dour image”, but today insisted he was “more optimistic than ever” about his plans for Britain.

Hinting at his policies as prime minister, Mr Brown said: “My passion is education, my immediate priority is the NHS.”

He also identified an immediate need to provide more affordable housing for first-time buyers, and constitutional reform.

Having waited 13 years to become Labour leader, Mr Brown insisted it was right to spend the next six weeks meeting with the public, rather than immediately replacing Mr Blair. The prime minister had a “right” to choose his own departure date, Mr Brown said.

Asked how he could restore trust in politics without winning a general election or party vote, Mr Brown said people should accept the verdict of the parliamentary Labour party. He joked it could be “embarrassing” to have received so many nominations, but pointed out his opponents had failed to gain sufficient support.

His only potential challenger, John McDonnell, conceded defeat last night when it became apparent he would not gain the required 45 nominations. Mr McDonnell said it was a “shame” Labour party members would not be able to elect a new leader.