PM wants Labour’s “undivided” attention

Gordon Brown asked the Labour party conference to concentrate on solving the problems faced by Britain in his second appearance of the day on stage in Manchester.

During a question and answer session with other senior Cabinet colleagues the prime minister’s language had suggestive undertones as he seeks to avoid speculation about his leadership.

He said: “Fair chances for all, fair rules apply to all. That’s what the British people want us to do today. All our efforts, all our undivided efforts, all our energies, all our determination to do what this party knows it does best – to serve all the people of this country.”

And later Mr Brown added: “The eyes of the country are upon us. The people of the country will want us to be talking and debating and making decisions that can help them. that I hope and I know from what’s heard today – is the undivided attention and focus of this party.”

His comments came after a terrible conference build-up for the prime minister, with a ministerial resignation and calls for leadership nomination papers to be made available hitting the headlines.

Mr Brown was on the defensive during much of the Q&A but came out fighting to defend Labour’s record in government.

“No government has done as much to expand public services as the Labour government has since 1997,” he said, to applause.

“We’ve doubled expenditure on health. We’ve doubled expenditure on education. Each local authority is receiving a settlement now for the next three years to enable them to plan ahead – these are in line with public spending increases.

“I know and understand people’s frustrations about wages,” he added, before pressing that pay rises which are “simply wiped out” are not the way forward for ordinary people.