Miliband: Tories are beatable

David Miliband used his conference speech to deliver a powerful rallying call to the Labour party, calling on activists to resist “defeatism” in Manchester.

He claimed the Conservatives are “beatable” in the next election and pressed the importance of not surrendering to “fatalist” sentiment.

Mr Miliband again reaffirmed his unity with Gordon Brown, who applauded him warmly afterwards. He said the prime minister’s’ leadership on cluster bombs and international development in foreign policy, saying he had “transformed the debate”. “That is the difference our leader makes,” he said.

And he was scathing on the Tories’ attitude to Europe, criticising their stance on the social chapter and opposition to a common European energy policy.

Referring to Britain’s international standing in 1997, he added: “We weren’t leading the world, we were ignored by the world, held in pity by our friends and contempt by our enemies.”

Echoing his comments earlier this week opposing “fatalism” in foreign policy, he drew a parallel between the international situation and Labour’s own political difficulties.

“Now is the time to turn back. We should be out there, engaged, arguing for our values, putting them into practice,” he urged.

“Just as I hate defeatism about our country, defeatism that says you won’t make a difference. I hate defeatism about our party,” he continued, attracting wide applause.

“These Tories are beatable. Let’s say it with conviction. These Tories are beatable.”

“Government is tough. You have to prove yourselves every day. But the toughest day in government is better than the easiest day in opposition. Not just for us, for the people we represent.

“We know what we believe in this party, that everyone should have a fair chance and those who succeed should put something back.”

He concluded: “Together, let us earn the privilege, let us seize the opportunity, and above all let us prove the fatalists wrong.”