Miliband: Tories are a ‘bunch of schoolboys’

By Ian Dunt

The foreign secretary has launched a bitter attack on the Conservatives in his keynote speech to the Labour conference in Brighton.

Attacking the party’s manoeuvres in Europe, which have seen it set up a new grouping outside of the centre-right European Peoples’ party (EPP), Mr Miliband described to delegates how Eric Pickles, the Tory party chairman, had excused some of the party’s new allies.

Questioned by the BBC on how it felt to work with the For Fatherland and Freedom party, a Latvian party which celebrates its country’s Waffen SS, Mr Miliband said Mr Pickles argued they should not be criticised because they were following orders.

“It makes me sick,” Mr Miliband told the conference hall, to loud cheers.

“And you know what makes me sicker? No-one in the Tory party batted an eyelid.

“I don’t want people laughing at my country because a bunch of schoolboys have taken over the government.”

He even turned his fire against members of his own party who had given up on retaining power in the next general election.

“When members of this party, and MPs too, say nothing much has changed – even that we cold use a spell in opposition – tell them: don’t do the Tories’ dirty work for them,” he said.

“If you believe the opinion polls, they’re back. And that’s our fault.

“This is not a country crying out for the Tories but it is a country wanting to know what were made of.”

Mr Miliband dedicated a considerable portion of his speech to lambasting the Tory leadership for its approach to the EU.

“The Tories are not a government in waiting. They are a national embarrassment,” he said.

“Desperately trying to keep up with Ukip, David Cameron has shown not leadership, but pandering.”

The Conservative leader had flown “the white flag of surrender to Euro-extremism in his own party,” the foreign secretary added.

In a seperate section, he stressed the need to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“The way to defeat this enemy is to divide it,” he said.

“Separate the hardcore from the rest. Does that mean the Afghan government talking with the Taliban? Yes it does.”

The foreign secretary then drew a causal line between events in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We know Taliban fighters get their orders from leaders in Pakistan,” he said.

“To our friends in Pakistan we say this – we support you in defeating with the threat to your country, but we need you to help us defeat the threat in ours.”

That call for cooperation was also aimed at fellow members of the coalition, in a sign British officials are becoming increasingly exasperated with leading the fighting, along with the Americans.

“We back our troops, our diplomats and our aid workers in support of a clear plan,” Mr Miliband said.

“We expect every other government in our coalition to do the same. We came into this together. We go through this together.”

Mr Miliband’s speech came on the last day of the Labour conference.