George Osborne targeted his fire firmly on Ed Miliband in the strongest proof yet that the Labour leader’s successful oration last week has rattled the Conservative party.
Miliband had spent “a third of his life working for Gordon Brown”; he did not mention the word “deficit” in his conference speech; he was Brown “reincarnated”, the chancellor of the exchequer told the Birmingham conference hall.
Until recently many in Conservative HQ had believed that “geeky” or “odd” Miliband would be their secret weapon in the 2015 election campaign and that the public would never warm to their rival.
The Miliband speech in Manchester, where he spoke confidently without notes for over an Read more
One of Ed Balls’ big announcements during his speech on Monday was his call for the government to use £4bn of the money from the auction of the 4G mobile phone spectrum to build 100,000 affordable homes.
Even before he spoke, the Guido Fawkes blog was speculating that the shadow chancellor may have been tipped off that the government was going to do exactly this, and wanted to get out ahead of them and look like he was setting the agenda. According to Guido:
It’s well known that Balls still has ‘people’ inside the Treasury and there is plenty of speculation doing the rounds that he had got wind of the 4G auction goodies fund and has pulled a fast one on the chancellor.
Ed Miliband cannot have enjoyed the revelation last Friday that two out of three Labour voters want to ditch him and install his brother as party leader instead. But a new poll released today is potentially far more damaging.
According to a Times/ Populus survey, a third of Labour’s own voters prefer David Cameron to Ed Miliband as prime minister. It also showed that over the last four months, there has been a 5 percentage point increase in the number of people who are dissatisfied with Cameron but would still prefer him to be in Downing St than the Labour leader.
Speaking at Labour’s conference fringe, Rick Nye, director of Populus, made clear that Mr Miliband has a difficult task – because even if his party is increasing its lead against the Tories, the statistics do not look so good when the leaders are pitched head to head. As a result, the likeliest outcome of next election is a hung parliament, with Labour the largest party but no overall majority, Nye said. Read more
Ed Balls’ speech to Labour conference was sweeping in its scope, taking in equalities, police, the NHS and education, and ending with a passage parading through Labour’s greatest hits. His passage on the post-war Labour government was stirring stuff:
Conference, our predecessors were elected that year to rebuild a country ravaged by conflict.
They faced even greater challenges than we face today: an economy enfeebled by war; a national debt double the size of ours today. And they made tough and unpopular decisions: to continue with rationing; to cut defence spending; and to introduce prescription charges.
But that Labour Cabinet also remained focussed on the long-term task ahead. And they learned from history and rejected the failed austerity of the 1930s.
And that meant they could put in place long-term reforms, enduring achievements, vital to our country’s future: the Beveridge report; new homes for heroes; the school leaving age raised; and, for the first time ever, a National Health Service free to all, based on need not ability to pay – over 60 years later, celebrated in our Olympics opening ceremony for all the world to see, still today the greatest health service in the world.
What’s in a word? In politics, often rather a lot. The Labour party was braced this morning for a conference motion that would “condemn” pay freezes in the public sector.
The danger of this was that this – if backed by the delegates – would amount to an attack on shadow chancellor Ed Balls. At the turn of the year the shadow chancellor said he would not reverse the pay freeze because it was more important to protect jobs instead. Read more