Gordon Brown gives (shock!) his best speech of the campaign

Genuinely moved Prime Minister embraces crying child of mother on low wages.

I am sending this from a Citizens UK gathering at Methodist Central Hall in London, where an audience of 2,500 community activists has just witnessed extraordinary scenes involving a girl whose mother and grandmother are on such low wages, working as cleaners at the Treasury, that there is no time to learn English or spend time together, as they travel in by bus at 3.30am.

Pundits may ridicule the fact that they work in messy Brown's old office, but -- if this speech gets pick-up -- it will go down as one of the most significant moments in this campaign.

Brown, speaking as I type, is genuinely moved. He looks angry about poverty, determined and serious. As he talks through his values, instilled in him by his Church of Scotland father, "bigotgate" seems a very long way away. And as he talks of the minimum wage, the audience are going wild for him, even more so than they did for Nick Clegg.

This is Brown at his best. Labour strategists will wish he could be like this all the time, and certainly over the next couple of days.

A heckler just emerged and was instantly booed and ushered out. Boy, did he get the mood wrong.

UPDATE: Here's a video of the full speech. Hat-tip: Political Scrapbook.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.