Liveblog: Fabian New Year Conference and Ed Miliband speech

12th January, 2013 10:33 am

17.52: Building a million new homes wins the race at a canter as the chosen Fabian pledge. Incidentally, NPF Chair Angela Eagle voted for it.

17.45: Over the last hour the conference has been debating a number of potential Labour pledges for 2015 –  One million new homes, Nationalise the railways, Introduce a National Care Service, Council tax reform and Mandatory living wage. We’re moving to a vote in a few minutes…

16.44: Tim Montgomerie suggests introducing higher council tax bands for more expensive homes. Sounds like taxing the rich to me. I commend Tim Montgomerie on his conversion to Social Democracy…

16.30: An audience member asks if Labour should be reaching out to the Lib Dems. There is audible hissing…

16.26: Morris also points out that a party in power for 13 years rarely bounces back as strongly as Labour has under Ed Miliband.

16.21: Morris says Labour needs a clear, realistic and strong offer in it’s core areas of strength.

16.19: James Morris says that the Tories fundamentally failed to detoxify whilst in opposition, but the idea that the next election is in the bag is wrong.

16.15: Consider this, says Tim Montgomerie – Ed Balls is less popular than George Osborne. Tim is stirring shamelessly here – and it gets a mixture of chuckling and murmuring.

16.11: Tim Montgomerie reveals that he’s spoken at 3 Fabian events in the last 12 months, which is, I think, the same number as me. Marcus Roberts notes that’s because Tim Montgomerie annoys Cameron more than the Fabians. In return Montgomerie notes that Lord Ashcroft recently praised Roberts as one of the brightest people in British politics. I’m loathe to agree with Lord Ashcroft, but I agree with him on that.

16.07: Toynbee says if Lynton Crosby says you need to be less nasty, you know you’ve gone too far – much to the amusement of the audience.

16.06: Polly Toynbee says Labour are going to have to work quite hard to lose the next election. I sense that’s slightly more confident than the rest of the room.

16.02: Stephen Twigg echoes Ed Miliband, saying we’re going to have to make “tough policy choices” and focus on things that don’t necessarily cost money. He also says Miliband is right to engage members and move on from command and control.

16.00: Fabian Deputy General Secretary Marcus Roberts (chairing this session) describes Harlow as “the Ohio of British politics”. That gets a few laughs – Roberts is deadly serious.

15.56: The liveblog is back as we turn to the afternoon plenary sessions. The panel is Stephen Twigg, Polly Toynbee, James Morris and Tim Montgomerie. I’ll be bringing you the pick fo their responses as they discuss “Roadblocks to the next majority”.

13.45: Apologies for a lack of recent updates on the liveblog – w’ve been having some wifi issues. I’m chairing a session on the NHS from 2.30, but the liveblog will be up and running again for the plenary sessions from 3.30pm.

11.02: Miliband arguing that One Nation is rooted in the values of the British people, “not in Fabian pamphlets”. But perhaps in LabourList pamphlets, Ed?

11.00: Loud applause for Ed Miliband as he arrives on stage here. Safe to say this is a bit of a home crowd for him.

10.58: Harrop also argues that Miliband’s government could be talked of in the same terms as the post-war government.

10.55: Is this a message to Miliband? Fabian General Secretary Andrew Harrop pointedly argues that Labour shouldn’t accept Osborne’s levels of public spending.

10.47: New Fabian Chair (and Norwich North PPC) Jessica Asato opens the conference and confirms that this is the biggest conference that the Fabian Society has ever held.

10.40: If you missed it earlier – here’s the  5 most important things to expect from Ed Miliband’s speech today (as picked out by me).

10.38: It’s absolutely packed in the Main Hall ahead of Miliband’s speech. This about as busy as I can remember a Fabian Society conference being. Frankly, I’m lucky to have found a seat.

10.30: Morning everyone. I’m at the Fabian Society new Year Conference this morning, which will be underway in a few moments. Ed Miliband will be speaking at 10.45 (and I’ve picked out the five key points from his speech). After the speech I’ll be reviewing it. Then I’ll be bringing you the best from the various fringe events being held here today through to the close of the conference at 6pm.

  • AlanGiles

    ” Over the last hour the conference has been debating a
    number of potential Labour pledges for 2015 – One million new
    homes, Nationalise the railways….”

    Nationalise the railways….. where have I heard that before?. Oh yes, it’s what Tony Blair and Clare Short promised in 1996. And up to and including April 30th 1997, but………….

    Everybody knows I have little regard for the prancing, preening war-mongering greedy old would-be guitarist, but he had rather more get up and go than Ed Miliband has. If even with a landslide majority and healthy economy Blair couldn’t/wouldn’t do it, what makes anyone honestly believe Miliband with what is likely to be a very small majority and even less willpower will?


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