It was a good speech, if not a great speech. Gordon Brown's conference address was well-received in Manchester, and struck many of the right notes. It was an attempt to remind people who he is and what he believes; a defence of his personality and his values. With a theme of fairness, it sought to place it in a wider context than simply tackling poverty. There were useful reminders of what has been achieved and is being achieved in schools and the health service. There were good announcements on free prescriptions for cancer sufferers and a right to catch-up tuition. He addressed the problems of the economy in the detail they deserved. And he took on the Tories on their lack of experience, a long overdue line of attack.
There were name checks for most of the cabinet, seeking to embrace them to his wider purpose. And the speech showed a more confident Brown than we have seen in recent months, perhaps because he stuck with a lectern and a style with which he is comfortable. The speech did a good job in setting out Gordon's and Labour's stall. It was more engagingly delivered than usual, and the better for it. Whether it has done enough to stave off wider political problems in the months ahead remains to be seen. But his speechwriters have still done him proud on the day.
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