The prime minister has said that the Labour Party was a progressive party, with 'fairness in its DNA' and with the right policies to lead Britain through these difficult economic times.

In an address to more than 2,000 Labour party conference delegates, seen by many observers as the most important speech of his career, he likened events of the last fortnight, where investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, to the upheaval caused by the industrial revolution.

He said the country needed an experienced government and a leader who 'loved to serve this country', as well as talking about his plans for a 'new settlement for a new situation'.

He outlined a number of initiatives topped by his proposals to calm the financial markets and end 'reckless speculation'.

Brown said that he would stabilise the financial markets by rebuilding them to ensure they were transparent, with sound banking practices that were not fuelled by excessive risk taking and bonuses.

He said: 'Banks’ board members will no longer be able to say that they were not aware of the risk they were taking'.

He will also work with global statesman to create a global standard and ‘super-visionary structure’ for the banking system worldwide, he said.

He added that he knew that people were concerned about the difficult times ahead and that his aim would be ensuring fairness for all.

'I have been criticised for being serious but there is a lot to be serious about,' he said.

Other measures announced included tackling energy costs and climate change with a commitment to reduce the UK's carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Brown said public spending would be tighter but it would prioritise schools, sure start programmes, transport and hospitals, and NHS support. He said the government also planned to create three million new jobs.

He said that Labour would continue to be 'the party of law and order... the party that secures the dignity of old people', as well as vowing to end child poverty.

Acknowledging the difficulties of the past few months, he said: 'Where I have made mistakes I will put my hand up and make amends.

The 10p tax hurt because people thought I was not for hard working families which is the only side I am on and the only side I ever want to be on.'