Acceptance of leadership nomination, 2007
Gordon Brown (Labour)
I am truly humbled that so many of my colleagues have nominated me for the leadership of the Labour Party and I formally accept the nomination, the responsibility it brings, and the opportunity to serve the people of Britain.
As a teenager I chose this party because of its values – values that I grew up with – and now I am honoured that this party has chosen me.
And this week, I believe the Labour Party has made a decision about more than its leadership.
The scale of the nominations shows to the country a Party united in its determination not to retreat into the past, but going forward as new Labour to address the opportunities and challenges of the future.
I stand here conscious that there is no higher calling than to lead and serve your country.
And while an hour or so ago, the nominations by Members of Parliament came to an end, for me a new conversation with the country is just beginning.
The last 10 years have taught me that the best preparation for governing is not meetings in Whitehall. The best preparation for governing is listening to the British people.
And the best way of drawing up policies for the Queen’s Speech will not be discussions in government departments, but listening and learning – and involving and engaging the voices of people too often left unheard.
My visits across the country have confirmed my view that we must address new challenges today – challenges very different and more pressing to which me must respond:
Young couples frustrated they cannot buy their first home;
Young people with talent and ambition wanting the best chance to realise their aspirations;
Patients disappointed that services are not open at the times they want and nurses and NHS staff who feel they don’t have enough time with the patients;
Mothers and fathers who want the best schools for their children, and – struggling with work, family and child care – want to be better parents for their children;
Families who want to do the right thing for our environment and who want to know that their choices make a difference;
Citizens yearning for stronger families and stronger communities and ready to help build them – and elderly citizens seeing the fast pace of change around us and anxious to know how we can protect and strengthen the British way of life.
To those who feel the political system doesn’t listen and doesn’t care;
To those who feel powerless and have lost faith;
To those who feel Westminster is a distant place and politics simply a spectator sport:
I will strive to earn your trust. To earn your trust not just in foreign policy but earn your trust in our schools, in our hospitals, in our public services, and to respond to your concerns.
And by listening and learning, I want to become a voice for communities far beyond
Westminster, to become a voice for the parent, the patient and the public, whom public services must exist to serve. For ten years I have tried to deliver a stable economy, and that will always be the starting point.
And when people ask me what I will focus on as prime minister:
My passion is education.
My immediate priority is the NHS.
The new challenges: affordable housing; Building safe, secure and sustainable communities; and building trust in our democracy.
These are my domestic priorities.
And I will bring forward reform proposals to renew our constitution with the first draft constitutional reform bill later this year.
And in the next six weeks until 24th June I will visit every region and nation of the country.
In order to learn better about the challenges ahead, I will spend time at the front line in the NHS with doctors, staff and patients, hearing the problems they face.
And then I will listen and learn with parents and teachers. And I want to meet police, community support officers and residents to look at how neighbourhood policing can make our streets safer.
And I want to discuss with parents how we can support them and help strengthen family life.
In the old days when politicians went round the country they gave speeches.
Then more recently politicians did question and answer sessions. Sometimes in the past as some of you know, the length of my answers left very little time for further questions.
But I am learning.
And to build trust in our democracy, we need a more open form of dialogue for citizens and politicians to genuinely debate problems and solutions.
In the past six months I have had the privilege of attending what are called citizens’ forums organised by national bodies from Age Concern to the National Consumer Council on youth services, on public health, on services for the elderly, and on education.
What I have learnt is that they make possible a very different form of conversation – politicians learning from everyday experience, people engaging in genuine discussion. And I want to do more of this not just in the coming weeks and beyond. 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.
And I am more optimistic than ever about what we can achieve together – a strong economy and a good society.
Duty to others, compassion, the importance of family are the values that guide me and I believe the British people.
And I believe that together we can create a
Britain where individuals can rise as far as their talents take them, and where the talents of each of us then contribute to the well being of all.
And I urge everyone who shares our values to join us – a renewed Labour Party. Let me say to the British people today: I will lead a new government with new priorities.
I believe government only works when it is dedicated to serving the people.
I will always try to put your concerns and aspirations at the heart of what I do.
I will work hard for you.
This is who I am. And I will do my best for all the people of Britain.