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Brown says he will 'do better', not 'bail out'

Latest update : 2008-09-23

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, battling internal opposition at his Labour Party's annual conference, said he "wanted to do better", but also that he had no intention of conceding the party's leadership.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted Sunday he could do better as he bids to fend off rebels opposed to his leadership at his ruling Labour Party's annual conference.
   
But he added voters would not forgive him and his government if it decided to "bail out" of tackling the current economic uncertainty following a week of extraordinary events on world money markets.
   
Brown, Tony Blair's finance minister for 10 years, argued he had the "wisdom" and "judgment" to deal with the turmoil better than the main opposition Conservatives who opinion polls Sunday placed well ahead of Labour.
   
"I want to do better, obviously I always want to do better, my whole ethos, my school motto was "I will try my utmost", I want to do better always," Brown told BBC television.
   
"When you have an international financial crisis, I happen to think I'm better prepared to deal with that than perhaps anyone."
   
He said he was working with other international leaders including US President George W. Bush in a bid to establish international rules to regulate the financial system more tightly.
   
Asked if he would respond to pressure for a change in leadership, Brown indicated he had no intention of stepping down and quoted the 19th century author Joseph Conrad.
   
"The best way to deal with that storm is, he said, facing it, facing it. I think all the Cabinet and the government are of the same mind," he said.
   
"We would be letting people down if suddenly we walked away and said 'we bail out'. What we do is we keep doing what is right for this country."
   
When questioned about whether he would still be premier at the end of the year, he said: "Yes, of course".
   
Brown faces an uphill struggle during Labour's five-day conference in Manchester, north-west England, which got under way Saturday, to convince the party that he should hang on to his job. His keynote speech is Tuesday.
   
This month, four lawmakers who spoke against him were forced out of their junior government jobs and 12 declared their support for a leadership contest.
   
The Conservatives are set to sweep Labour aside at the next general election, which must be held by mid-2010, with a 146 majority, according to an Observer newspaper/PoliticsHome.com opinion poll published Sunday.
   
A second YouGov/Sunday Times poll of Labour members said 60 percent believe it cannot win an election under Brown and made Foreign Secretary David Miliband favourite to take over.
   
Miliband said Saturday now was not the time for a leadership election but gave two major newspaper interviews focusing on his family and personality, fuelling speculation about his long-term ambitions.
   
In a further sign of opposition to Brown, former home secretary Charles Clarke, a prominent Brown critic, called for an immediate leadership contest saying he lacked "strong leadership, clarity of purpose and public support".
   
"Though prevarication and evasion may appear attractive at the moment, they are actually the most dangerous course of all," Clarke wrote in the Sunday Times.
   
Labour received a boost Saturday when Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, a personal friend of Brown, donated one million pounds (1.3 million euros, 1.8 million dollars) to the party, which is nearly 18 million pounds in debt.
   
There was another ray of sunshine when a Sunday Independent/ComRes poll put Conservatives on 39 percent and Labour on 27 percent, a lead of only 12 points and a Tory reduction of seven since last month.
   
The paper linked the result to Brown's handling of the economic turmoil which hit home here when Britain's biggest mortgage lender HBOS was taken over by rival Lloyds TSB Thursday.

Date created : 2008-09-21

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