Miliband: Heckler does not speak for Labour

Labour's leader had harsh words for the heckler
Labour's leader had harsh words for the heckler

By Charles Maggs

Ed Miliband has condemned the heckler who booed a fifteen year old school girl at the Labour party conference in Manchester yesterday.

Joan al-Assam was talking about her positive experience of attending Paddington Academy in West London when a member of the audience began to shout over her.

Miliband condemned the incident, saying on Twitter, "The person who shouted during the speech by a year 11 pupil was totally wrong and doesn't speak for Labour. The hundreds who applauded her do".

Academy schools are self governing and free from local council control and their expansion has been a central part of the government's education reforms.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg was also supportive of the London schoolgirl, saying it was a "privilege... to meet young people like Joan".

But Michael Gove, the education secretary was quick to try and make political capital from the incident.

"Heckling a schoolgirl because she goes to an academy is disgraceful. But it also shows the real face of Labour – a party where aspiration and achievement gets booed," he said.

He also called for the heckler to be expelled from the Labour party.

Labour had already criticised the delegate responsible. In a statement the party said: "Nobody should be heckled, especially not a 16-year-old girl. We should debate education in a civilised and polite fashion at conference."

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