Gordon Brown's speech at the Labour Party conference today may be regarded as something of a success, even if the principal effect was to shore up his support within the Labour Party. The speech was better delivered than is usually the case with the prime minister. This was probably because he was speaking from the heart, using illustrative examples from his own life in terms of the importance of good public education and a National Health Service. He eschewed the fashion for scrolling screens with the text and spoke from notes. It was also a nice touch to get his wife Sarah to introduce him.
His main themes were stability and fairness. In terms of stability, he was the serious man for serious times, playing to his strengths. He got in a dig at Dave Cameron by saying that this was no time for novices. In terms of fairness, he was stressing a theme that warms the hearts of Labour activists, but it may also play well with a wider audience in these straitened times. The speech was short on specifics, but there isn't the fiscal scope for many giveaways.
Whether the speech will produce much of a poll bounce remains to be seen. But the prime minister has bought himself valuable time with his party. The conference response to his most likely successor, Dave Miliband, was muted, reflecting the fact that his base in the party is far from being a broad one.