Ed Miliband conference speech as-it-happened

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Ed Miliband's big day: Conference speech 2012
Ed Miliband's big day: Conference speech 2012

 

09:44 - Good morning and welcome to Ed Miliband's big day. However, I will now do a Legolas and suggest the omens are not good. Trouble comes from the east in the shape of a ComRes poll released showing just 20% of people think Miliband would make a good PM. It also slashes Labour's lead to three points. Most damningly of all, the speech is being pre-briefed as, and I quote, "one of the most personal speeches from a British political leader in modern times". Pass the sick bag. If he starts talking about first love I'm packing up the live blog and changing career. Here's our news story to tide you over. For the next few hours I'll be bringing you news from the conference centre, as well as all the best bits of commentary from the web. The speech is due at 14:30 I think, but I'll double check that with Labour in a moment. 

10:19 - The best podcast you'll get from the Labour conference comes courtesy of our correspondent Alex Stevenson, who interviewed TUC general secretary Brendan Barber,  New Statesman political editor Rafael Behr, head of political research at Ipsos Mori Gideon Skinner and senior researcher at the Fabien Society Natan Doror. You can hear it here.

10:22 - Here's my take on what Ed Miliband needs to do today, and also what he's accomplished so far. I'm more sympathetic to Miliband than most commentators, although I have noted the fact that leadership challengers should have shoulders. Lecturer Matthew Ashton is much less generous.


10:34 - The rest of the web. There is a rest of the web out there, I promise. We'll start from the left, which is far from uncritical. Steve Richards of the Independent is pretty sympathetic to Miliband. he believes the "ideas Labour leaders have brought to this conference are distinctive" and "potentially vote-winning". He argues Labour is using responsible rhetoric to simply evade the issue of public spending until they are in power. "From the public declarations of Miliband and Balls, Labour’s position in relation to tax and spend is clear," he writes. "They will try to close the issue off, as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did in 1997. They are right to do so. There is no point trying to have a grown up pre-election debate in the UK about tax and spend. It is impossible."

10:42 - Still at the Indie (there aren't many who can say that), Lance Price makes an interesting point about Miliband's will to win. He should look to his brother's failings and remember how Blair used to do these things, he argues. "Blair’s frenetic activity from 1994-97 not only grabbed headlines. It grabbed the voters’ attention. Here was a man brimming with energy and determination. Every election Blair ever fought he treated as if he were the underdog. When everybody else thought he couldn’t lose he campaigned as if defeat was a real possibility. You could see it in his eyes."

10:47 - At the Guardian Polly Toynbee is still flirtily dancing with Labour. She is a cautious friend of Miliband's leadership, but would like him to go much further. She reminds us, entirely accurately, that most of the media is not remotely sympathetic. "If you ever forget that 80% of the press is Labour's enemy, just glance at their photos of the two Eds, faces screwed up, blinking or sneezing." Her appraisal is generous though. Labour is gradually framing a better language of social responsibility where we really are 'all in it together', proving there are still radically different paths for parties to take," she writes.

10:54 - Slightly off topic, but Galloway is, without a trace of irony, suing the National Union of Students for calling him a "rape denier" over his Julian Assange comments.  Here's the story.

10:57 - Janan Ganesh is hidden behind a paywall at the Financial Times, but he's concerned Miliband is only speaking to his core support. "His strategy makes him mortally vulnerable to a Lib Dem recovery," he writes. "It also leaves him unprepared for a general election campaign in which his ultimate political skill – the ability to electrify audiences who already agree with him – will not be enough."

11:04 - I don't agree with Benedict Brogan's analysis in the Telegraph but it's probably the best-written Miliband piece today. Miliband's personal speech is designed to catch the attention of a public which "registers politics only in occasional impressionistic bursts and vivid brushstrokes", he writes. What's most interesting though, is the frantic pre-briefings Labour has itself chosen to give. "What is really striking about the terms in which the speech has been trailed is the ambition," he says. "Mr Miliband’s aides are pushing the bar up as high as it can go. 'This is a key moment. There have been questions about his leadership. Now he has to show he has what it takes,' one says. Until last night, the build-up to the leader’s speech had been striking for the absence of predictions that this was a 'make or break' moment. Yet those around him now concede that it is. Mr Miliband knows that he needs to make a connection with voters; his aides know it too, which is why they have talked up the paramount importance of his hour in the hall today."

11:22 - Dan Hodges sells himself as a Blairite loyalist in a party moving left, but he spends so much time attacking Miliband it's sometimes hard to remember he is still technically a Labour man. He interprets speeches by Liam Byrne and Douglas Alexander as potshots from a Blairite encampment. "Out here, in the untamed wilderness that is Labour party conference, Tony Blair's writ no longer runs," he writes "The troopers are isolated. And everyone knows reinforcements are not on their way. So, for now, the Bairite officer corps, the outriders of a once mighty army have no option but to sit there. A symbolic rather than substantive presence."

11:30 - Here's Tessa Jowell's speech in full. She's a bit of a party hero at the moment because of the goodwill around the Olympics. 

11:33 - It's been weeks since the Olympics, but the feel-good factor is so strong a Tory peer just got a standing ovation at a Labour conference. Lord Coe is greeted like a saint. The conference hall plays Chariots of Fire and some Olympic torchbearers talk about their experiences over the summer. Jowell's speech celebrates "progressive nationalism'. She said Mo Farah embodied the new Britain: "a man from Somalia, wrapped in the Union flag, as proud to be one of us as we are proud of him".

11:42 - Here's our news story on the Coe speech

12:51 - Twitter is getting a bit excited about the Miliband speech all of a sudden. BBC political editor Nick Robinson tweeted this: "Ed Miliband's speech will be historic. Blog soon on why." And then this: "Ed Miliband will ally himself with a former Tory leader."

13:01 - Now this, from Sun journo Tom Newton Dunn: "I've had a whiff of the main line in Ed's speech; and it's clever. Prepare for quite a cheeky lurch to the centre."

13:03 - Robinson's blog, when it comes, is unremarkable. He says Miliband wants to reclaim DIsraeli's 'one nation' Toryism. Meh, I would suggest. But put that together with Dunn's comment and we might be looking at One Nation Labourism?  

13:20 - The more I think about it, the cleverer that One Nation line is. It shows Labour doesn't want to lose private sector workers, that it cares for north and south etc. It is a clear message to the (mostly Tory) press Miliband is not going left. But it can also chime with a radical critique of the financial system, if Miliband makes the argument that recovery will come from boosting lower and middle class wages so they can spend. It's probably the lovliest term you could possibly steal from the Conservatives. it'll drive the unions nuts of course, but I image Miliband can live with that.

13:26 - As many online are pointing out, Tony Blair heavily relied on One Nation Socialism etc in campaigning, not least when he entered Downing Street.

13:30 - Ah yes, there is one more similarity between Miliband and Disraeli - or a potential similarity anyway. He was Britain's last Jewish prime minister. That of course, chimes in with the immigrant story of his parents which Miliband will tell this afternoon. Whichever way you look at it, this will probably be the most interesting conference speech of the season.

13:34 - In a weird bit of timing, ConservativeHome has revealed the Tory's election slogan for their conference: 'Britain can deliver'. That seems a bit absurd to me. Voters don't question what Britain can do, they question what the government can do.

13:50 - The queue for the Miliband speech is stretching across the inside of the Manchester conference centre, as is the way with these things.

13:54 - Here's another excellent piece I don't agree with. What's going on with bad analysis today, it's all very eloquently constructed. Anyway, it's a Telegraph blog suggesting Miliband shouldn't make too big a fuss about his comprehensive education.

14:00 - Well it's 2pm. Miliband will start his speech anytime from now, although I'm guessing it'll be in half an hour earliest.

14:03 - The hall is rammed. A video played showing Miliband's education - lots of old classmates talking about him, that sort of stuff. The kind of thing that makes you want to burn out your eyes. I think it probably will start soon, actually.

14:05 - A flashy moving image of a fluttering Union Jack fills the screen, with the words 'Rebuilding Britain' emblazoned on it. The colour scheme, rather daringly, is blue. Fit's with the One Nation message I guess.

14:07 - One hack usefully points out: "Problem with Ed's back story is it stops being 'normal' at age 18 and becomes very Westminster."

14:08 - There's no text to offer from Miliband's speech because he's doing it off the top of his pointy head. Bit daring, bit David Cameron. Labour really is going all out on this one. It needs to win rave reviews, given the importance the party has attached to it. 

14:11 - Several delegates have small Union Jack flags. Labour are really going for the Olympic goodwill feel. Apparently the music playing is Beginners by Slow Club.

14:14 - No notes, no podium. He's really going for it. More chairs are being brought in. Miliband only has a tony space to stand. Behind him there are a few rows of seats, I guess with Cabinet ministers, it's hard to see in the dark.

14:20 - A video in the hall features someone from Miliband's uni days calling him "Prof Miliband". No trying to duck the caricature there...

14:21 - There are terrifying rumours that the speech will be 90 minutes long. I don't usually do caps, but 90 MINUTES LONG!

14:22 - Miliband comes in.

14:22 - He says Manchester is special to him because it's where he was elected leader. "I'm older - I feel a lot older actually" he says. It's a good delivery. He says his favourite name was being called "Mr Leader" by Mitt Romney - half North Korea, he suggests. "Mitt, thanks for that."

14:24 - He's actually being relatively funny. Apparently he took his four year old  on a walk and even he was giving him advice for the speech. He wanted dinosaurs. "No, Daniel, we tried predators last year," he adds. He gets a round of applause. "I'm going to do something different today, I'm going to tell you who I am and what I believe."

14:27 - Miliband talks about his immigrant family and his comprehensive school education. This was all in the pre-speech briefing, and he delivers it pretty much word for word. 

14:27 - Miliband jokes that as a kid he liked Dallas, which didn't go down well with his Marxist dad. He says his upbringing was important because of the role politics played within it.

14:29 - "I knew that wasn't the way the world was supposed to be. I knew I had to do something about it," Miliband getting a bit Batman. "I believe we have a duty to leave the world a better place than we found it. We cannot just shrug our shoulders at injustice."

14:31 - Miliband says his dad would have been angry at some of the things he believes in. "He would have loved the idea of Red Ed, but he wouldn't have liked the fact it wasn't true."

14:31 - So far the reviews are glowing. Iain Dale, Conservative commentators: "This is already the best speech Ed Miliband has made, because for once his advisers are letting Ed be Ed. This is the real him." Spectator editor Fraser Nelson: "This Miliband speech is very good so far. First time I've ever seen Miliband as personable and likeable on camera as he is in person."

14:33 - Even a Daily Mail journalist agrees. "Naffly charming, a bit clunky, too earnest, but passionate: this is authentic Ed Miliband." Miliband tells stories of people he's met who have been ruined by banks. He says consumers want to know why the oil price goes up when it rises, but stays the same when it goes down.

14:35 - "One rule for those at the top, another rule for everyone else. Two nations. It's not the Britain we believe in, it's not the Britain this party will ever be satisfied with. So we;re going to change it, and here's how."

14:36 - Miliband moves on to why Britain will succeed, and of course cites the Olympics, from royalty to a man born in Somalia, Mo Farah, "a true Brit".

14:37 - Miliband does look much more comfortable. His body language is natural, despite the forced hand clenching thing. His pace is good. He's winning what appears to be genuine applause. He is very calm and composed. 

14:40 - "We succeeded because of us," he says, still on the Olympics. "We came together as a country. That's why we achieved more than we imagined possible. I can't remember a time like it in the whole history of my lifetime, that sense of a country united. That is the spirit this Labour party believes in."

14:41 - He moves on Disraeli. he was a Tory, "But don't let that turn you off". He spoke for three hours and drank two bottles of brandy. That length would kill his audience today and the alcohol would ruin him, Miliband jokes. But that One Nation speech matters. Miliband says he believes in the spirit of One Nation, "a country where everyone has a stake, where prosperity is fairly shared". 

14:43 - "We won the war because we were One Nation," he goes on. The phrase is coming out his mouth about four times a minute now. He may self-combust. It's good, solid stuff though. He links Disraeli's use of it to Atlee after the war, building a welfare state. This is, thematically, a very clever speech. Very clever indeed.

14:45 - Miliband has a little bit of difficulty as the audience don't realise they are suppose to growl when he mentions Tories. He gets it out of them eventually. Now he turns to people who voted for Cameron. "I understand why you were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I think you've had long enough to make a judgement. They've turned a recovery into the longest double dip recession since the war."

14:47 - Miliband is unapologetic, however. he repeats Labour's message of 2010, basically saying they were right. This is a tricky message to get across.

14:48 - There's a strong section where he urges voters not to believe Cameron. "If the medicine's not working, you change the medicine. And you change the doctor too."

14:50 - The praise is flooding in from left and right online. Notice there are no 'isms'. Miliband is now attacking the tax cuts for millionaires. "Cameron isn't just writing the cheques, he's receiving them."

14:52 - "How can he justify this unfairness in Britain 2012?" Miliband shouts, pointing his finger angrily. Now he moves onto the Lib Dems, prompting boos from the audience.

14:53 - Miliband gets a mandatory dig in at Andrew 'pleb' Mitchell. Loudest round of applause yet.

14:54 - "Have you ever seen a more incompetent, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower than this prime minister or this government?" I'd love to give you that full quote, but I skipped about six more descriptions. It was perfectly delivered and prompts a massive, sustained round of applause. "There's more," Miliband says,. "It's not quite Disraeli, but there's more". He starts to cite all the scandals - Pasty tax, granny tax, Rebekah Brookes - "he even rode the horse". And now, "we have the minister for Murdoch becoming minister for the health service". We have a party chairman who writes books about how to beat the recession using a false name.

14:58 - "Those with the broadest shoulders will always bear the greatest burden" Miliband says, of his principles in government. He is doing an exceptional job of keep the right on board while tickling left-wing tummies. Now he moves on. "We must be the party of the private sector as much as the public sector."

15:01 - "New Labour, despite its great achievements, was silent about the responsibilities of those at the top. In One Nation responsibility goes all the way through society. the people at the top have the biggest responsibility. in One Nation, no interest, from Murdoch to the banks, is too powerful to be held to account. We must be a One Nation party to become a One Nation government to build a One Nation Britain."

15:04 - Strong applause for his threat to banks. Either split retail and investment now or "we will break you up by law".

15:05 - Miliband, by the way, is wearing a purple tie. What is going on with purple ties at the Lib Dem and Labour conferences? Bet the Tories won't touch it - too close to Ukip. It's fascinating how diverse the people praising Miliband are. Billy Bragg just said he's "talking my language", and there are right wing columnists saying the same. Miliband is currently explaining the tech bacc idea. It gets strong support in he hall, but my hunch is they're putty in his hands now. They know it's a good speech and will clap anything.

15:05 - Miliband, by the way, is wearing a purple tie. What is going on with purple ties at the Lib Dem and Labour conferences? Bet the Tories won't touch it - too close to Ukip. It's fascinating how diverse the people praising Miliband are. Billy Bragg just said he's "talking my language", and there are right wing columnists saying the same. Miliband is currently explaining the tech bacc idea. It gets strong support in he hall, but my hunch is they're putty in his hands now. They know it's a good speech and will clap anything.

15:09 - Even now, he is saying One Nation several times a minute. We are on the verge of overkill.

15:11 - Miliband really relishes repeating the words 'Michael Gove', like some childhood villain. The audience boo. 

15:12 - Miliband being slightly too self-congratulatory, when he retreats to producers and predators - his theme from 2011. "One year on people know what I'm talking about."

15:14 - Now would be a good time to stop talking. He should leave them wanting more. 

15:15 - Miliband just said he would remove quarterly reporting for listed firms. Interesting. Very radical. 

15:16 - Miliband is on immigration. He says he's proud of multcultural Britain but it must work for all. We need secure borders, he says, but the change is about economics. Immigration cannot be used to undercut workers already here and exploit workers coming here. The last Labour government didn't do enough to address these concerns and the Tories never will. His solution is to crack down on employers who won't pay minimum wage, or recruitment agencies who only hire people from overseas. He'll also crack down on shady gangmasters in the construction industry. 

15:18 - Miliband says the Scottish support for all Team GB - not just Scots - showed the desire and solidarity of the UK. "It is up to us, we the Labour party, must be the people who fight defend and win the battle for the United Kingdom."

15:19 - Now he's on the NHS. He really needs to come to a close. It's been one hour now. He doesn't need to go here, it's safe territory.

15:21 - He attacks Cameron for the NHS. "He broke his solemn contract with the British people - a contract which can never be repaired". It's an effective section, and he stabs Cameron deep with it. "I hate the waste, I hate the fact there are 5,500 fewer nurses - think what he could have done if he hadn't spent the money on that top-down reorganisation."

15:23 - The excerpts of the speech we saw were from several different sections and he's delivered them word-by-word. If that's the case for the whole speech, this is a remarkable feat of memory.

15:24 - One thing is certain: Miliband has killed off any embryonic rumours about his leadership. He's rounding up now. "This is where I stand, this is what I believe." He says he was talking to his mother this morning. She reminded him of where her mother was born, in a tiny Polish village. He'd been there. "Britain has given my family everything - Britain, and the determination of the people who rebuilt Britain after the war. And now the question is asked again. Who in this generation will rebuild Britain. It falls to us, the Labour party, too leave our country a better place than we found it, never to shrug our shoulders at injustice. It's not some impossible dream. We've heard it, we felt it. One Nation. A Country for all. A Britain we rebuild together." 

15:27 - With that, he ends. The applause is huge and genuine. His wife looks great by the way. I've never thought that before. There are cheers and, of course, a standing ovation. Ed Balls looks like he's just been slapped.

15:34 - OK, I'll close down the blog now. We'll have news, comment, sketch and reaction up for you in a moment. 

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