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Vote rumors as Brown unveils plan

  • Story Highlights
  • British PM Gordon Brown makes maiden speech to the Labour party
  • He revealed policies on education, health and gun crime
  • Speech comes amid speculation he will call a snap election
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LONDON, England -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has revealed his "program of change" for the next decade in his maiden speech to the ruling Labour party, amid speculation he will call a snap election.

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Brown has not ruled out the possibility of a snap election.

The prime minister joked about an election, saying if he was asked to recommend his job to others he would reply: "Not yet."

Brown told delegates he was "honoured and humbled" by the trust the party had placed in him to replace Tony Blair in June of this year.

He continued: "No one could have foreseen all the events that Britain has been through since June. But tested again and again the resilience of the British people has been powerful proof of the character of our country."

Brown's first 100 days as leader have already seen him face a catalog of problems, including foot and mouth disease, the Northern Rock banking crisis, devastating floods across the country and a failed terror attack in London and Glasgow.

In his first address as leader to the annual party conference Brown announced policies on crime, education and health.

They include a crackdown on gun crime in Britain's biggest cities and a drive to rid hospitals of superbugs MRSA and C Difficile.

Other proposals included constitutional changes to give Parliament the final decision on war and a commitment to increase house building, creating two million more home owners by 2010 compared to 1997.

Brown also pledged to "stand up for the British national interest" in Europe and work for "security, political reconciliation and economic reconstruction" in Iraq and Afghanistan while at the same time trying to safeguard British forces.

He insisted he wanted "a genuinely meritocratic Britain, a Britain of all the talents."

He said he wanted "New Labour: now the party of aspiration and community. Not just occupying but shaping and expanding the centre ground. A strong Britain, a fairer Britain, putting people and their potential first."

Brown has not ruled out the possibility of a snap election, but said he would not need one to push his policies through. Video Watch how Brown has tackled his first months in office. »

"I've got a program of change for the future. Do I need to call an election to do so? No. The right thing to do is to get on with the job," he told BBC Radio 4's Today program.

He added: "But I can make these decisions, there will be a time to do that, but I'm getting on with the job at the moment."

"I think over the summer, when he have been tested on terrorism, tested with floods, tested with foot and mouth, and now we have had turbulence in the international economy, I have tried to show that we are equal to every challenge that arises and that we can do what's best for the British people."

CNN's Robin Oakley said calling an election was a "tough call" for Brown.

He said the prime minister's popular ratings in the polls suggest he could win an election, but his cautious nature could leave him to wait.

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"If he were to call a contest now and lose, he'd be the shortest-lived prime minister in Downing Street history," he said.

Brown has also indicated that he may reverse some of the decisions made under Blair, including the downgrading of cannabis, pub opening hours and gambling laws. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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