Brown pledges homes for all

Gordon Brown yesterday set out his vision of a "home-owning, asset-owning, wealth-owning democracy" as he stepped up his campaign to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown yesterday set out his vision of a "home-owning, asset-owning, wealth-owning democracy" as he stepped up his campaign to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister.

The Chancellor declared that he wanted to go further than Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s in extending home ownership as he signalled that he would use his premiership to launch a major housebuilding programme.

In the first major policy commitment of his campaign, he announced plans for five new "eco towns" with up to 100,000 low carbon or carbon neutral homes powered by locally generated energy from sustainable sources.

Mr Brown should learn today whether he will face a contested election for the Labour leadership as left-wingers Michael Meacher and John McDonnell meet to see if they can muster enough nominations by MPs for one of them to go forward.

Mr McDonnell insisted that between them they had "more than enough" support for one of them to secure a place on the ballot paper.

"Whoever has got the most nominations then goes through and we urge our supporters to back them," he said.

The timetable for the election was confirmed yesterday by Labour's ruling national executive committee, with nominations for leader and deputy leader opening today and the results announced at a special conference in Manchester on June 24.

However, the focus remained resolutely on Mr Brown, who is still seen as a certainty to take over the reins of power when Mr Blair finally steps down in a little over six weeks' time.

The Chancellor said he wanted to expand the rate of housebuilding, currently standing at 185,000 homes-a-year, to 200,000 "as quickly as possible".

"There is a pent-up demand. More households are being created than there are places for them," he told BBC1's Sunday AM.

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