Zapatero praises Brown leadership

By Alex Stevenson

Spain’s prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero praised Gordon Brown’s leadership in the economic crisis at Labour’s party conference in Brighton.

The leader of Spain’s socialist party, who has survived numerous political challenges to retain his hold on the summit of Spanish politics, told delegates that Mr Brown’s leadership was a major asset to the British Labour party.

“It’s true we are going through difficult times – we are experiencing one of the most of the most serious, deepest financial crises of all time,” Mr Zapatero said through an interpreter.

“But it is also true that in times of crisis great leadership wins through. And if I’ve seen anyone who has shown that great leadership for his own country and for the international community during these difficult times, that person is Gordon Brown.

“I think if you look around you at all the leaders in the major countries in the world, look around to see who has led the way forward, it’s been Gordon Brown.”

Mr Zapatero appeared to take a swipe at David Cameron’s Conservatives, who Labour have pointed to as the only major opposition party to oppose the massive fiscal stimulus package in the developed world.

The Spanish prime minister said he “represents a Great Britain that is open to Europe, open to the rest of the world”, before adding: “I would say in the 21st century anyone who is not open to that international environment, to other countries in the world, will go to the dogs.”

Mr Zapatero and Mr Brown were joined on the conference stage by Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenburg, who won a second term in office in recent elections.

He too offered praise for Britain’s prime minister, describing Mr Brown as a leader for social democrats “not only in Britain but all over the world”.

“Some are saying social democrats are having bad elections in Europe,” Mr Stoltenburg said. He pointed to victories in his own country, in Portugal yesterday and – he claimed – in Greece in two weeks’ time as examples disproving this.

“And then we are going to win the election in Britain in not-so-long time,” he added, to enthusiastic applause from the conference hall.