PM vows to stand up for British talent

Gordon Brown today promised to reposition Labour as the party of aspiration and opportunity.

In his keynote speech to the Labour conference, the prime minister set out his vision for a Britain “not divided by class but united by aspiration”.

Mr Brown told delegates in Bournemouth: “In Britain today too many still cannot rise as far as their talents can take them.

“Yet this is the century where our country cannot afford to waste the talents of anyone.”

Vowing to work towards a class-free society, Mr Brown said the government would not accept young people being born who are pre-destined to fall behind.

He set out his ideal for a country without a ceiling on people’s talents and vowed to “unlock all the talents of all the people.”

Mr Brown promised his first speech to the Labour party conference as leader would be heavy on substance.

Addressing delegates today, he reaffirmed government policy across a wealth of areas, including housing, health, crime and education.

He announced paid maternity leave will be extended to nine months, with the eventual target of 12 months paid maternity leave.

Mr Brown said the target for 60 per cent cuts in emissions contained in the climate change bill would be reviewed, after environmental groups warned a 60 per cent cut would not stem global warming.

He also said the number of new eco towns will double to ten, while £8 billion will be made available for social housing.

The prime minister vowed to crack down on the illegal supply of guns and drugs which fuels gang related crime. In a sign Mr Brown is preparing for a U-turn on cannabis reclassification, he said new education programmes would send out the message drugs will never be decriminalised.

Shops which repeatedly sell alcohol to underage drinkers will have their licence revoked, he said, while the industry will be pushed to advertise the dangers of underage drinking.

Any immigrant caught selling drugs will be expelled from the country, he said.

Mr Brown confirmed plans for a deep clean of every NHS ward, announcing funding will be made available. A further £15 billion will also be released to fund British research into new drugs and treatments.

Amid mounting pressure for a referendum on the EU treaty, Mr Brown said he would take personal responsibility for ensuring the red lines – which ministers claim distinguish the treaty from the constitution – are included in the final document.

In an often personal speech to conference delegates, Mr Brown praised the role of the NHS in saving his own sight, and made frequent references to his father’s work as a minister.