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.
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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn bids for the NHS to rescue Labour

Ahead of tomorrow's by-elections, Corbyn damned Theresa May for putting the service in a "state of emergency".

Whenever Labour leaders are in trouble, they seek political refuge in the NHS. Jeremy Corbyn, whose party faces potential defeat in tomorrow’s Copeland and Stoke by-elections, upheld this iron law today. In the case of the former, Labour has already warned that “babies will die” as a result of the downgrading of the hospital. It is crude but it may yet prove effective (it worked for No to AV, after all).

In the chamber, Corbyn assailed May for cutting the number of hospital beds, worsening waiting times, under-funding social care and abolishing nursing bursaries. The Labour leader rose to a crescendo, damning the Prime Minister for putting the service in a “a state of emergency”. But his scattergun attack was too unfocused to much trouble May.

The Prime Minister came armed with attack lines, brandishing a quote from former health secretary Andy Burnham on cutting hospital beds and reminding Corbyn that Labour promised to spend less on the NHS at the last election (only Nixon can go to China). May was able to boast that the Tories were providing “more money” for the service (this is not, of course, the same as “enough”). Just as Corbyn echoed his predecessors, so the Prime Minister sounded like David Cameron circa 2013, declaring that she would not “take lessons” from the party that presided over the Mid-Staffs scandal and warning that Labour would “borrow and bankrupt” the economy.

It was a dubious charge from the party that has racked up ever-higher debt but a reliably potent one. Labour, however, will be satisfied that May was more comfortable debating the economy or attacking the Brown government, than she was defending the state of the NHS. In Copeland and Stoke, where Corbyn’s party has held power since 1935 and 1950, Labour must hope that the electorate are as respectful of tradition as its leader.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.