Gordon Brown asserted his claim to the Labour leadership in Birmingham yesterday, as Tony Blair struggled to maintain authority at Westminster.
The Chancellor visited the city on a year-long national tour designed to prepare him for taking over as Prime Minister.
He visited a city school and went on the beat with police, while Mr Blair endured a grilling from MPs.
The Prime Minister was quizzed by the Commons Liaison Committee, chaired by Cannock Chase MP Tony Wright (Lab), on a range of issues including the Government's school reforms.
It was unclear yesterday whether concessions offered by Ministers would be enough to convince Labour rebels to back proposals, and save Mr Blair from a Commons defeat.
Mr Brown was in Birmingham on the latest stage of a tour taking in every United Kingdom region, which he announced at the Labour Party conference in September.
He told delegates it was designed to allow him to "listen, hear and learn and to discuss the economic, social and constitutional changes we need for the future".
The scope of the tour went far beyond Mr Brown's remit as Chancellor, but appears designed to portray him as a potential Prime Minister.
Some commentators saw the 12-month duration of the tour as a signal that Mr Brown hopes to take over the reins when it ends.
Yesterday the Chancellor visited Kingstanding Police Station, and walked with police officers on the beat in Erdington High Street.
He also visited Park View School in Alum Rock, where he listened to young people taking part in a youth forum. A Treasury spokeswoman said: "The purpose of the visit was to go out and talk to people."