Miliband speech – instant reactions

24th September, 2013 3:54 pm

Ed Miliband has just left conference floor – and as we do every year we’re bringing you instant reactions from LabourList contributors. We’ll be bringing you more as the afternoon goes on.

Mark Ferguson

An integrated health and social care service. Energy bills frozen. Extended childcare. 100,000 new apprentices – and most importantly for me, a million new homes in the next parliament.

Not bad Ed, not bad at all.

Before conference I made a film for the Daily Politics that said Miliband needed to show that he’s a bold leader, up for the fight and bringing the party policies that we can use on the doorstep. We have that now. No-one is being “sent naked onto the doorstep” anymore.

There was a downside. The performance wasn’t as good as it might have been. I thought last year’s delivery was more fluent. I thought the energy of the speech dipped part way through. I think the house building policy – which is potentially transformational – is still yet to be properly defined.

But those are quibbles.

Any suggestion that there’s not now clear red water between Labour and the Tories is dead and gone though. The major push in the coming days is clearly going to be on freezing energy costs for two years after 2015. There is little prospect of the Conservative Party backing price controls – but if they want to argue in favour of spiralling energy profits for (largely) overseas energy companies at a time when people are squeezed, I’d relish that.

That said, to paraphrase the Labour leader “Miliband can do better”. The bar will be set even higher for next year’s speech. But that was still bloody good. In policy terms we now have a platform to fight on, and the last fifteen minutes of the speech was the best delivery he’s managed as Labour leader.

Earlier this week, I said Miliband needed to give people hope. He made a decent fist of that today. He’s provided the basis on which an election can be fought, and won.

Game on.

Owen Jones

If there’s one notion that is dead, deceased, defunct after this speech, it’s that “Labour has no policies”. A million green jobs; a freeze in energy prices; a house building programme and a “use it to lose it” policy for property developers; the end of the hated bedroom tax. Labour activists who have too often been lost for words on the bedroom tax now have something to say. Miliband took on the policies of divide and rule, the merciless redirecting of people’s anger at their falling living standards at the unemployed, private sector, immigrants – anyone but those at the top. But there is still so far to go. What does strengthening the minimum wage mean? Labour needs to commit to a living wage to stop the taxpayer subsidising of poverty pay. Where is the commitment to letting councils build housing? How is he going to create a million green jobs? A coherent alternative to austerity during the longest fall in living standards since the Victorian era is still to emerge. But this was a step in the right direction, will help win public support, and undoubtedly will boost the morale of an all too often deflated activist base.

Marcus Roberts

200,000 affordable homes a year. Raising the minimum wage. Ending the bedroom tax. Guaranteeing childcare.

Labour now has a strong and radical policy agenda. Ed has given activists all the red meat they’ll ever need to get them onto #labourdoorstep in large numbers, winning over more voters one conversation at a time.

But it felt like a policy agenda more taken with what government will do *for* people rather then *with* people. In contrast with the Tory’s winning frame on austerity (shared sacrifice, short term pain for long term gain etc.) Labour is in danger of being painted as a party focused on giving away goodies paid for by someone else.

So the challenge for the Miliband project next is to show how these changes are part of a politics that brings people together in partnership with government, business and community alike. Explaining the work of Arnie Graf or Movement for Change would have really helped here.

We have the right radical policy agenda. Now we need the right radical politics to achieve it.

Stefan Stern

He got there in the end. The speech was a bit too long. The opening didn’t completely work, and I would have liked more structure – a clearer setting out of what the argument was going to be. Miliband was, if anything, slightly too relaxed at first. Impressive confidence, but there is a time for formality, and the start of a party conference speech is probably one of them.
But then it took off. And for the first time we started to get a really strong sense of what a Miliband-led government would be like. Bold enough to intervene, to challenge market orthodoxy, and address injustices. And ambitious enough to aim high, to tell us that “Britain can do better than this”, and that our best days lie ahead. Today Miliband lived up to the challenge set two centuries ago by Napoleon, who said that leaders should be “merchants of hope”. Miliband told us that under him we could hope and expect to see a better country emerge.
The speech was strong too when it came to the nitty gritty of politics. A million new homes, a higher minimum wage, better use of land banks, and a cap on energy prices – these were meaty ideas delivered with force. Best of all perhaps was the confrontational approach Miliband took to David Cameron. It’s clear, Miliband implied, who has the superior intellect and grasp of the big issues. Cameron’s “global race” was always a pretty flimsy notion, a pseudo-Davos soundbite that meant little – or little that was good, anyway. Miliband exposed it mercilessly. He also addressed the question of leadership head on. Miliband is offering a more thoughtful, more intelligent and more decent approach. The hall knew it, and rose to salute it.
It was a long speech, too long, but he got there in the end.

Emma Burnell

That was a little bit of wow. Great jokes at the beginning – most at his own expense – and great positive vision at the end.

The policies are great. Votes at 16, 200,000 new houses a year and a freeze on energy bills. But the speech was not about the policies. It was about Ed. That’s what the “be my guest” section was all about.

Ed kicked it up a gear today. He sounded relaxed, cheerful, appealing and ultimately incredibly confident and assured. This is Ed as leader.

The question is, how do we now take this beyond the conference hall? Ed does give great speeches. But one great speech once a year is not enough, we need to take this momentum into the rest of the year.

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  • treborc1

    I thought Clegg had a good speech , Farage had a good one, neither really struck me as being bright enough that I’d want either for a leader.
    I said to my friends who were over, that I bet £1 that MIliband will mention his parents and boy he did. £5 won.

    He spoke about nothing really I did notice that this year the obligatory wheelchair user was missing or I did not see them, lots of nodding heads behind MIliband one or two really got carried away.

    On the whole it was OK, it was aimed more at the middle class, upper middle class a few things we all ready knew about the 10p tax band returned to the poorest, well that’s what Brown stated, but I noticed the living wage was not spoken about so much, electricity and gas and train fares, sadly 20 months of keeping power cost down is very much like the Tories with the council tax, what then happens after the 20 months it goes up faster.

    250,000 houses did I miss the bit where he stated how many would be council houses because affordable houses are fine if you can afford them.

    It was nice to mention the para games and people who are disabled but not forgetting many of those athletes only get £5,000 a year in expenses to pay for training and equipment unlike the able bodied who get £130,000, but many of the disabled are being called in to have reviews for DLA or told the benefits would be stopped because under PIP’s they do not meet the new requirements and PIP’s which I have to say are really hammering the nails into the disabled and which Miliband backs.

    On the whole he may have done enough to get some back, but I doubt to many will think it’s enough, you take your choice I’m sure the Tories will promise the people that Labour are now chasing the middle class just as much.

    Clegg maybe right he is going to be needed again.

    • Guy Lambert

      We can all grizzle about aspects of the speech and policy.
      For me – I voted for Ed and have always liked him but in my heart of hearts I was worried about his image/PM credibility.
      After that speech I have NO worries.
      I thought it was really great.

      • treborc1

        I have to say when the GMB suggested I vote for ED I had to google him I knew his brother of course and I had heard of Ed Miliband but more or less as Blair speech writer. I knew nothing about him as such.

  • Graemeyh

    I am not personally a Labour party member – I would describe myself as a critical friend. I thought this a pretty impressive speech, technically and on content. To speak, competently and assuredly for over an hour without notes or autocue is quite an achievement in itself. It was consistent and the narrative constant, with the right amount of passion and personal stuff. I thought that he probably got it right in terms of policy commitments so far off a general election. So did I see a future PM standing making this speech? I certainly think he has more than a fighting chance.

    No doubt the mass ranks of trolldom will soon arrive to pour scorn and rubbish everything Miliband had to say. I have never really understood why people who clearly dislike Labour and everything it stands for feel the need to come and comment on a site specifically designed for grass roots Labour members and for people broadly supportive like myself – apart from to cause uproar and offence, but I guess that is the whole purpose of the mean, sad little lives that is the internet troll?

    • The_Average_Joe_UK

      “No doubt the mass ranks of trolldom will soon arrive to pour scorn and rubbish everything Miliband had to say.”

      Thank you for the intro.

      Price controls??????? Back to the 70’s.

      • trotters1957

        Back to the 70’s, if only we could and then miss out Thatcher, the miners strikes, Lawson’s housing bubble, Lamonts Black Wednesday, Tony Blairism, Utilities sold off for pennies, NHS privatised, the 2008 financial crisis, Murdoch,
        A bit of the 70’s won’t do us any harm at the moment.

        • JohnPReid

          Remind me after Lawsons housing bubble and the Miners strike who won the 92 and 87 elections

          • treborc1

            Well said John history buff you are, so what should Labour do then hire Blair.

            People would have to be mad not to want the fuel prices sorted out but a twenty month freeze is not going to help, we need to get real competition in this group. As that socialist Flint said six companies control all the gas and electricity.

            But after twenty months we are back to the same old price hikes.

            But Flint today said she is pro market, odd is it not.

          • JohnPReid

            Also going back to the great 70’s who won the 79 election, after the public saw. labours record in the 70’s

          • treborc1

            I left Labour over the Iraq war and the welfare reforms, so I walked away, your in the Labour party but to be honest I’ve not got a clue why.

          • JohnPReid

            When I joined in spring 87 we were trying to increase the vote from the 27% we’d got just before, even the 29% we got last time was better, whatever the next election result, it maybe worse than 83 at least we haven’t had the infighting like 79-90

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            The intervening period (ie during the price freeze) will be used to restructure the market so that it works properly. At the moment the market is rigged by the big six. Even Cameron has recognised this with his insistence that the energy companies must be compelled to offer customers the cheapest tariff.

          • treborc1

            Somebody has to do it because they all talk about it, last month British gas gave a warning of a large rise, will the rise next year be even bigger now that Labour has warned them.

          • Gabrielle

            Iraq: the Tories were all for it, whereas a very large number of Labour MPs voted against it.

            Welfare reforms: and this Tory-led government are an improvement are they? Labour made the mistake of trying to appease the tabloids, but from what’s been said at conference about this issue it is clear that they have learnt from their mistakes regarding social security.

          • treborc1

            The issue was not that reforms were needed it was the WCA and Byrnme and Purnell and of course Freud.

            I’ve just gone through my ESA and WCA the doctor saw me gave me an examination said that he was surprised how I managed, gave me a couple of phone numbers to get help with dealing with my bowel and bladder problem.

            The letter from ATOS stated WRAG so I appealed asked for the evidence, the medical notes came back and this what it said.

            Points 45 you only need 15 then it spoke about my issues but at the back it said this patient has spinal injuries chronic pain and dysfunction of his bowel and bladder leading to serious issues for him and his family. Then he wrote I have serious concerns this patient would be unable to work in the long term or the short term.

            Yet ATOS placed me onto WRAG I phoned the DWP who told me that my appeal would be on hold until they had reviewed the claim as they had issues, six weeks later I was told that they had reviewed my claim and placed me into the care group, I asked them for how long and they said the claim would be open, which means I could be called next week next year or not again.

            But the issue is surely because ATOS is paid to do the WCA and then paid to do the appeals, this has to be a conflict of interest, they are paid to fail people and then paid to do the appeals.

            But we picked up on this in the 1990’s but why was it allowed.

            It then took me my wife and the CAB a further month to get back all the benefits they had stopped I had to have a review of my benefits because the DWP had told the council I had failed the WCA, the tax office had changed my tax band and British gas had stopped my benefits for £130 for gas and electricity the warm front payments, and I had to go to three interviews with the job center on pain of losing my benefits, but I already go to the job center each week.

            God help anyone who is not up on the benefits regime who are suffering from mental health or a learning disability.

      • When the above-inflation, ramped-up energy bills start hitting door mats across the country the population will be screaming for controls on corporate grabbery.

        • Danny

          Spot on. And if the energy companies simply can’t cope with an environment that puts the customer before their billion pound profits, then leave. The pointers are that a growing number of the electorate are warming to nationalised industries, we’ll take them out of foreign hands and back into the warm embrace of the public.

          • treborc1

            The public may well be warming to having it nationalized, but is Labour. The public did not want to flog it off and Labour did very little to control the rises when they were in power did they.

            I would be all for nationalization.

          • The_Average_Joe_UK

            I would be all for nationalization. Does that mean you are all for the consequences. France teaches us about wholesale departure of industries and jobs as you cant do business there. They are near bankrupt and the government is hated and has no answers?

          • i_bid

            Worth noting the public have been for nationalisations of utilities for years – perhaps always.

          • The_Average_Joe_UK

            Yup and all the other investment can leave too. Everyone can be poorer and you’ll be happy in your grey world. The voters aren’t stupid, they know that the world is a globalised place and investment = jobs. Any threat to investment is poverty.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          They already have.

      • ColinAdkins

        Still 20 years ahead of Gove’s back to the 50’s.

  • Hamish Dewar

    The speech was poorly delivered, though obviously much rehearsed.
    The catch-phrases such as “Britain can do better than this” were weak and grated with the excessive repetition.
    His stories about the people he had met personally lacked point, and his use of the story of the Glasgow woman’s treatment in a LIverpool hospital was pathetic.
    “I don’t want her to be a foreigner” he bleated.

    • reformist lickspittle

      I refer you to the conclusion of the comment above.

      No doubt you will be back next week after ham-face has spoken, to tell us how brilliant his thrown together collection of banal cliches, spivvery and tawdry personal abuse was. Could you be any more pathetically transparent??

      • Hamish Dewar

        I take it you allude to the comment above referring to internet trolls, who are not Labour-minded, contributing on this site.
        I appear to be to the left of most who comment here. I believe that all the utilities should be publicly owned (and that only within that framework is a price freeze possible). I believe that the minimum wage should be a living wage. I believe that health-care and education should be free for all. I believe that income tax should be fully progressive, with a top rate not far short of 100%.
        I regret that Ed did not put forward anything as radical as these policies in his speech.
        I also take it that ‘ham-face’ is a ham-fisted reference to Alex Salmond.
        The SNP government with limited powers has delivered a freeze on council tax, free prescriptions, no tuition fees.
        Scotland is clearly more Labour-minded than England, which is why I look forward to Scotland regaining its independence.

        • DanFilson

          Ham-face seems more likely to be a reference to Cameron whose porcine features and those of his colleagues – well-fed men who look as if they dine well – contract with the thinner faces of the general populace.

          • treborc1

            None of the Labour party look under fed do they and calling people silly names is a dangerous and daft game when Miliband features are known to look like somebody well loved on TV.

            It’s a daft game to play.

        • Chrisso

          “Scotland is clearly more Labour-minded than England, which is why I look forward to Scotland regaining its independence.”
          I agree. But as I’m English and living in NW England I
          back Miliband, though NOT on his skewed and tired view of the Scottish wish for independence.

          That story of ‘Cathy Murphy’ –

          “… living in Glasgow, working in the local supermarket, diagnosed with a serious heart problem, had a very long and risky operation at the ‘world-leading Liverpool Broadgreen hospital’ – [ha! I know Broadgreen and it’s not usually regarded as ‘world-leading’ but we’ll let that pass]. OK – so Cathy pulled through and went back to Glasgow. She comes back down to Liverpool every six months for her check-up. Now she said to me the nurses and doctors don’t ask whether she is English or Scottish, the hospital doesn’t care where she lives. They care about her because she is Scottish and British, a citizen of our United Kingdom. … I don’t want Cathy to become a foreigner. Let’s win the battle for the United Kingdom.”

          Just a minute. What nonsense – propaganda is all. Had Cathy fallen ill in, say, France – would she have been refused treatment there? Will her EHIC card not be valid in all EU member states after Scottish independence? Do French nurses and surgeons give a damn about nationality – or are they in the nursing profession because they want to help HUMAN BEINGS regardless of where on the political map of Europe they may hail from?

          I’m sure that their only worry would be whether the patient was EUROPEAN and therefore fully covered for treatment. Or are we saying that European medical care is crap and that only in England and Wales can Cathy be looked after? Luckily, Cathy will still have her EHIC card post a YES vote.

          For goodness sake Ed, don’t pander to the Ukip tendency and trot out such rubbish.

    • The_Average_Joe_UK

      I have to disagree, he delivered exceptionally well. If you look at the BBC coverage he had the audience in the palm if his hand.

      It was the content I disagreed with, the price controls bit was laughable. Paxo destroyed Chukka yesterday on it, he reduced him to rambling and cut him off in the end. It was embarrassing and cringe worthy to watch.

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        The BBC cut a Labour politician off? Never!

  • wj

    As an anti-EUer I’m wondering how Miliband is going to square his power cost curb with his EU partners.

    Our foreign owned power companies are going to make straight for the EU Commission with complaints of price fixing.

  • Mouch

    A well presented speech I thought, but it was the content of 2 key announcements that was most worrying and will provide the backdrop to today’s and tomorrow’s debate.

    1) State price control over energy prices (unworkable in my view).
    2) The threat of state coercion of private land owners to develop their land, with compulsory purchase as the potential sanction. This is a bad precedent to take.

  • Daniel Speight

    The Guardian calls it right. Red Ed dares to talk over the heads of the Tory press.

    Some of us of course would have preferred him to have gone further on issues like the railways and Burnham’s ideas on the NHS. Nevertheless he has started in a direction where there is public sympathy rather than media support. I think the Syria question must have concentrated minds on this disagreement between the Westminster/Media bubble and public feeling.

    Sure the press will be splitting blood. Ed will soon be wearing a cape and sprouting fangs according to them. In fact Dan Hodges has already shown us what’s to come in his latest Telegraph piece. But if Ed and his team can hold their nerve and not start backtracking and apologising he could even see his own woeful polling figures improving despite the Tory press attacks. We must hope that this isn’t just for conference, and they all jump back into the insipid centre once it has finished.

    Today you can read genuine fear in the Tory press’s articles. Let’s remember though that like cornered rats they will be at their most dangerous. Any Blairite shadow cabinet members who finds this new style hard to stomach should either resign or do a Byrne and trip over on the road back to London, having a damascene moment, and getting up as a reborn social democrat.

    Could he have gone further? I think so, especially with ‘big ideas’. Here’s one to ponder. Much as I dislike targets, how about a target of getting the Gini coefficient of incomes back to where it was during the post-war social democratic consensus? This is a measurement of equality which if I understand the maths correctly would mean that closing the gap in incomes between the top 10% or so and the rest would help to reduce (more equal) this number.

    The above would in a way support Rachel Reeves claim that those on £60,000 are not rich even though that’s almost three times the national average. (Do you think this has anything to do with MP’s salaries being at this level?) We can get the Gini coefficient down by taxing those she spoke about on over £150,000.

    • Daniel Speight

      Well it sounds like Jim Murphy has had is ‘Road to Damascus’ moment and is now a full-on revolutionary red.

      Mandelson couldn’t do it and followed Dan Hodges into an attack on Milliband in support of the energy companies. (Are they his clients I wonder?) The usual suspects still to come out. What way will Charles Clarke, John Reid, Alistair Darling, Alan Johnson and of course Tony B. jump. I’m guessing they will be wailing like Mandelson.

      Alistair Campbell must have tripped over something on the floor and is now quoting Marx from what I hear. But of course this is just fun. The real question is whether the shadow cabinet can back Miliband fully. Is their ambition enough to change their obvious dislike of the ‘S’ word?

      • Daniel Speight

        And now Caroline Flint of all people says Mandelson is in the pay of the energy companies. That threat of a shadow cabinet reshuffle is bringing out all sorts of secret socialists;-)

        • rekrab

          Daniel, I don’t want to dim the spotlight to much on a productive conference but there does seem to be something happening here and what it is ain’t exactly clear.

          I thought, Murphy, Alexander and a couple of others looked really subdued at conference.

          Murphy’s conference speech was odd? it almost sounded like he was blaming the two tory ministers, who were hiding in a sound proof room and missed the vote on Syrian action for that vote failing.(Murphy voted against action then write an article on here saying it’s not what he wanted?)

          Alexander conference speech, seemed like he was holding back, as if he had been warned about what to say. Alexander, on Q.T. tonite, when answering an E.U. question said something along the lines “I hope I have the right answer for Ed” suggesting his thoughts were subdued)

          Could there have been a plot to oust Ed? Murphy didn’t exactly support the right brother, Alexander seems more aligned to Blairism.

          I’m being speculative but keeping an eye on the coming re=shuffle.

          • Daniel Speight

            Derek I guess it’s why I call them apparatchiks. You know that they will change tune to suit their career prospects. David Miliband, while watching his career prospects dying, was quite right to pick up on Harman’s change in attitude to the Iraq war. The communist bureaucrats couldn’t do it better.

  • Monkey_Bach

    On the positive side Miliband’s speech could have been worse. Eeek.

  • Jonathan Roberts

    I thought it was a decent speech – one of his best. Well delivered, interesting and for the most part engaging.

    Policy wise, there are some that are excellent, some that sound excellent but will be very difficult to deliver, and some that I just can’t get onboard with – but hey ho, that’s life.

    I think Ed is very good at giving conference speeches, but he has to ensure that such energy and quality is consistently delivered throughout the year, not just when he has to deliver an important speech. Nevertheless, there are some positive signs here for Labour.

    • treborc1

      Yes well of course we will know sooner rather then later, the election is coming and of course Labour has to now keep up the pressure on the Tories who will hit back hard.

  • MrSauce

    I thought he looked like Mr Bean.

    • trotters1957

      And what do you look like, George Clooney? Idiot.

      • MrSauce

        As it happens, I do.
        Only younger.

        • ColinAdkins

          Seriously what do looks have to do with it. Thatcher looked like a back end of a bus but it didn’t stop people voting for her.

          • MrSauce

            OK, OK, ‘younger’ might be just wishful thinking.

          • trotters1957

            If you were a child I could understand you’re comments, given that you aren’t you should be ashamed.

          • DanFilson

            Her ankles were said to set many a Tory MP’s heart aflutter.

        • trotters1957

          Whatever you look like, you’re still an idiot.

    • Monkey_Bach

      I think David Cameron look likes Mr. Has Been. Eeek.

  • trotters1957

    This was a clever speech and with it has ensured he keeps the 33-36% of the vote he needs to be the biggest party at the next election.
    It doesn’t mean Labour will win the next election but he’s made it virtually impossible for the Tories to win it when UKIP is taken into account.

  • ToffeeCrisp

    It’s been less than 24 hours since his speech. I get the feeling that the whole energy price freeze policy could come crashing down around his ears within the week. Then what’s left?

    If energy prices rise between now and the general election and I think they will, as energy companies try to cushion their accounts just in case. Then a great deal might depend on how the increases are sold to the public. Do they buy them as rip off energy companies, soon to be brought to heel? Or do they see them as Miliband’s energy policy disaster? Only time will tell.

    Personally, I’d have preferred a publicly owned and managed energy policy where government builds enough storage capacity in order that the country can buy in gas at the cheapest summer rates and store for the winter instead of being at the mercy of speculators and the fluctuations of capricious markets. However, that seems beyond the comprehension of Labour these days.

    Most of the rest was stating the obvious. Yes Ed, we know people are struggling with living costs. But that’s got a lot to do with Labour’s deliberately engineered housing bubble created by Brown from 2001 as he ran scared of the dot-com crash. House prices trebled during Labour’s period in office and that’s one of the major problems we have. People are paying down mortgage and general household debt and are not spending. Unless we want another banking crash brought about by negative equity, that bubble needs to be deflated slowly by wage increases and inflation and that will take time. Oh, and saying you’re going to look at a living wage cuts no ice whatsoever. Anyone can look at it. It’s implementing it which needs courage.

    I disagree that it was delivered well. However, on a plus point, at least someone has finally stopped Ed from crying “It’s not fair”, because that really did make him sound like a stroppy teenager not getting their own way.

  • Excellent speech from Ed.

    With his focus on challenging the vested interests such as energy companies ED is framing political debate.

    Certainly, anyone who has paid an energy bill or attempted to calculate the cheapest supplier will know they are being ripped-off and it is all to the good that Ed is prepared to represent the interests of ordinary people and challenge predatory corporate behaviour.

    Better still, this throws the gauntlet down in front of Cameron. What is Cameron going to do about the corporate grabbers? Squirming won’t be enough, he’ll have to do something. Ed’s got him over a barrel on this one.

    Well done Ed.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Of course I agree with everything you’ve said here Dave but I must confess to being a bit taken aback. Most of the rest of the year you’ve been telling us that EM is the puppet of Progress. Still a sinner that sees the errors of his ways is welcomed all the more in Heaven as Christians like to remind us.

      • “you’ve been telling us that EM is the puppet of Progress.”

        I’ve never said that. Never.

        Re my comment: I always give credit when credit is due.

      • rekrab

        Bill, delivering a policy speech in your own house so to speak can be a comfortable situation, especially if your offering the correct policies that unite the conference floor.

        Ed speech was good, his delivery was what we all wanted from the start, real and fluent.

        Now Ed has do it at the dispatch box? and carry through the courage of conviction.No stumbling and no back tracking.Finally there’s some meat on the bones and if Ed has any sense he will recognise the influence of the trade union movement as a force of accountability for our politicians .

        Rather than attack Dave Stone, why don’t you embrace his absolute stability and brilliant posts.Personally, I ‘d like to see Dave Stone representing labour in Westminster.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          He might help his chances of representing Labour in Westminster if he………….er, joined the Labour Party.

          • rekrab

            I said personally? what ever Dave Stone does and say’s, whether in support of the NHS and other issues, nobody could deny he’s above some very dubious labour MP’s on all accounts.

          • My membership has not yet expired – though since my great disillusionment of last year, when I discovered Labour’s role in the privatisation of the NHS, I thought of myself as a member only on paper.

            However, in view of the way things are shaping up (Ed’s speech yesterday and Andy Burnham’s work on the NHS) I’m thinking of staying a member and perhaps getting stuck into some activism – people tell me I’m very good on the doorstep.

            Who knows, I might even pop over your way when you’re next standing for the council, but you’ll have to cut out the back-chat if you want the advantage of my support…

        • Jeez mate, the scandal sheets would have field day if ever I stood for office. People will be coming out of the woodwork to sell their stories – wasn’t exactly the best behaved boy in town during my youthful years.

          Even yesterday we were all a bit rowdy coming out of the pub at closing time last night – but I suppose we had a good excuse. ; )

          • rekrab

            LoL Dave! and no where near as scandalous as Frank Field’s and co.
            A lot more to celebrate now although it’s probably worth keeping the solidarity and pressure on.

    • JoeDM

      Country € per kWh Natural Gas :

      Austria 0.06691
      Belgium 0.06362
      Bulgaria 0.05061
      Croatia 0.3715
      Denmark 0.10805
      Estonia 0.047
      France 0.05706
      Germany 0.06139
      Hungary 0.05752
      Ireland 0.05827
      Italy 0.07932

      United Kingdom 0.04450

      What’s the problem?

      • In a nutshell: neo-liberalism – the God that failed.

        • JoeDM

          The State of California introduced a freeze on energy prices in 1998 and that resulted in dozens of power cuts !

          • rekrab

            The state of Britain’s fuel poverty means hundred of pensioners die from the cold every year and young children’s health is poor because the lack of heating and lack of hot daily meals.

          • And what is the name of the prevailing economic orthodoxy in the U.S.?

            Give me a shout if ever you see someone who has just opened their gas/electricity bill and is overcome with gratitude for the affordable, transparent and generally superb service they’re receiving from our marketised energy corporations.

          • Monkey_Bach

            The situation in California was not remotely similar to that of the UK.



          • It’s amusing how marketisation believers like JoeDM think the only response to the failure of marketisation is more marketisation.

            This nonsense can easily be exposed if one thinks of the marketisation of the NHS – who in their right mind would argue that the shortcomings of the NHS are caused by not enough marketisation?

            Anyways, if JoeDM thinks the privatisation and marketisation of the energy utilities is such a good idea perhaps he’d like to demonstrate his enthusiasm by helping me out with my gas and electricity bills… ?

      • Monkey_Bach

        Erm. How many of those countries have some supply delivered from their own offshore fields in the North Sea? Eeek.

      • BillFrancisOConnor

        The problems are colossal rises in energy bills alongside massive profits for the energy companies and a market that doesn’t work. Even your beloved leader and his errand boys recognise that it doesn’t work which is why they compelled the energy companies to offer customers the cheapest tariff. The only reason why Natural Gas is relatively cheap is because we produce the stuff in the North Sea.
        The fact that these CEOs have threatened to turn the lights off if a democratically elected government carries out its policy of a price freeze shows what they’re really like and where their true loyalties lie.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          The problems are colossal rises in energy bills alongside massive profits for the energy companies….

          Rises are problematic, but surely they are only symptoms? The cause is that global energy is priced in dollars, and the pound has been weak against the dollar for the last 7 years, at least compared to the 50 year trend. Meanwhile, the Euro has (with a much shorter trend) been relatively less weak against the dollar, and sometimes gaining in strength. Hence energy inflation from a euro perspective seems less.

          OFGEM says that profits are 6.7% in the UK (May 2013), a rise of 1.7% since May 2010. On an average energy bill of £1300, that is a rise of £22 a year for the average bill payer (from £65 to £87 of the bill going to be profit for the supplier). It is still a lot, but 1.7% is not “massive” to my estimation.

          • rekrab

            Profits at the big six energy companies have shot up 74 per cent since 2009 – dwarfing inflation’s rise of 13 per cent.

            British Gas, E.On, EDF, npower, ScottishPower and SSE have enjoyed a £3.3billion surge in profits as households have been hit by a 29 per cent rise in bills.

            Profits from the groups – which provide energy to 98 per cent of homes – rose from £2.15billion in 2009 to £2.22billion in 2010, £3.87billion in 2011 and £3.74billion in 2012.

            The typical domestic dual fuel bill now stands at £1,420 a year, compared with £1,100 in May 2010, according to regulator Ofgem.

            Not to mention the stagnation in wages, where the average loss is £1,500 p.a.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Derek, you are comparing different things. I am talking about domestic profit margin, you are talking of domestic price inflation. It is entirely possible to have relatively low profit and high inflation.

            The companies’ profits may have increased overall, but that is not only from UK domestic usage – some of the profits are due to foreign operations, some due to efficiencies, and so on. OFGEM state that profits from UK domestic bills rose from 5% to 6.7% between May 2010 and May 2013.

            I asked Google for wholesale energy prices information, and found this document: . Have a look at the prices paid for natural gas in Table 3.2.1 (paid by the energy companies) at the point of arrival in the UK: it is a 46% rise since 2010. In addition, look at sections 5.3.1 to 5.10.1 for international comparisons with similar countries (page 45).

            As a net importer of gas and oil, we have to pay US dollars, and so our domestic cost is a mixture of things, including the value of the pound against the dollar, and whatever eco-nonsense taxes we put on top of the price.

          • BillFrancisOConnor

            When the wholesale price of oil collapsed in 2008 energy prices went down only slightly but since then they have rocketed. In other words when the wholesale price of energy collapses the price for consumers goes down like a feather when it rises it goes up like a rocket. The real point here is that the market is rigged and the big six run it like a cartel

          • trotters1957

            The figures are fixed by the energy companies, they use transfer pricing methods to switch profits to different locations.
            You can’t trust the accounts or Ofgem who simply have not worked this out.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Ed’s speech to me had 2 items of note, which yesterday listening to the headlines I thought were good, but today, after some thinking, I think will prove to be extremely difficult to implement and probably not work as he intends. I hope I am wrong.


    Many commentators point to some European free trade and competition laws that rule against this unless there is free will by the companies. I suspect that free will is not there. Even Labour talk of a judicial review, which may take a long time.

    The willingness of the companies to invest in infrastructure will disappear if they see their profits disappear.

    Nationalisation will not help: Britain already imports most of our oil and gas, and the global market price will not change because of one small country on the edge of Europe. If the Danish (for example) are willing to pay market price for gas, and the British energy companies cannot without making a loss, the Danes will get the gas and we will not.

    Renewable energy will not provide a great enough increase in scale before 2015, or even 2030. I think nuclear power stations also take a long time to build, and we do not appear to be moving very quickly.

    Housing: unless the one million houses in 5 years are purely council or housing association stock, then this policy only represents a slight increase on what we as a nation have been building for the last 30 years. See .

  • ColinAdkins

    The right-wing press report the energy companies threatened to switch of the lights if a democratically elected government get their own way. I wonder what they would say if the energy unions threatened the same thing if they didn’t?
    I may be exposing my shakey grasp of corporate finance but isn’t one of the reasons for the price hikes is because the companies over-leveraged themselves in order to pay divis and bonuses all round and this needs to be serviced? If I am wrong please correct me in a comradely fashion.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      This is what I thought. I mean who are these people to charge us whatever they like for basic needs like heat and light and to disregard the wishes of a democratically elected government? It makes you sort of want to say -you switch the lights off and we’ll nationalise you without compensation. Is this how Trotskyism started?

    • The_Average_Joe_UK

      Given that UK energy prices are massively lower than either Germany or Socialist France you wonder how much money theenergy companies make from a ROI perspective. If they make £2bn based on an investment of £1bn that would be obscene. If they made £2bn on £100bn investment then that would be poor return.

      The point is that the energy companies can say that the UK pays some of the lowest energy prices in developed Europe.

      However you dress it up, if you fix prices their has to be consequences. IMHO they will be as follows:
      1. Investment will suffer
      2. Power cuts are inevitable
      3. Their is a clear signal to new capital that the UK is the wrong place to invest.
      4. As a result of point three our economy will suffer and fewer jobs will be created.
      5. Share prices will suffer and so will peoples pensions.
      6. Their will be less money in the economy and tax receipts will suffer.
      7. The deficit will rise.

      There is more but you guys are going to be calling me enough names as it is.

    • Chrisso

      If a privatised industry holds the public to ransom by with-holding basic utilities then surely the democratically elected state has the right to assume control of the plant involved in order to serve the public interest. But it can avoid ‘renationalisation’ yet make the industry one that is responsive and socially responsible by being run co-operatively by taxpayers, employees and investors as a social enterprise. Staff would have a pecuniary interest in ensuring the social enterprise was efficiently run as a partnership with management.

      The profit-sharing but price restricted utility’s management board could perhaps be 33% taxpayer membership, 33% employee membership and 33% private equity membership. The cost of securing supplies is a cost before profits are allocated so in high cost years the annual profits shared would have to be reduced in order to accommodate lower price increases to the end users.

  • driver56

    It was a great speech in that revealed just enough to get the general election bandwagon rolling. I think Ed has balanced it just right and left the ball in camerons court. you always have to keep something in the locker, so cameron will be judged on his response and delivery on promises. He can do neither, He is trapped. Nice one ED.

  • markmyword49

    A goodish speech that at least talked to the voters rather than policy wonks. Now what’s needed is a concerted effort by the rest of his team to sell the policies to the undecided voter over the heads of hostile media, big business and special interest pleadings.
    I’m not hopeful having seen Stephen Twigg(?) on the Politics Show on Wednesday lunchtime. He came across as unprepared and under briefed. Anyone watching the show would know how Neil would attack the policy and he should have made sure he had his statistics and other evidence ready.

    • reformist lickspittle

      Twigg is probably not long for the Shadow Cabinet anyway.

      Surprised the party didn’t send anybody better, but maybe they have decided that the now hysterically pro-coalition Beeb is a lost cause (see new thread)

  • Monkey_Bach

    I see that Mandy has made one of his usual helpful interventions.


    • Daniel Speight

      It’s about time this pantomime queen was disowned by the party. All those who gave him a standing ovation at conference just a few years back should hang their heads in shame;-)

      Oh no they shouldn’t.


      • Monkey_Bach

        He’s behind you!


  • Andy Astrand

    Suggestion (this may be ridiculous and I’m sorry if this is the wrong place to pose it but I see the energy debate raging here):

    Rather than all this, price fixing, threaten this, turn off that rubbish why isn’t it seen as more sensible to:

    A) re-nationalize the entire National Grid, the wires that transport leccy to peoples homes and businesses.

    B) all people with an electricity supply have a contract with this national grid and pay the national grid the bills. As a result they have a more direct means of democratically affecting the process.

    C) the power generation companies remain independent private companies, or indeed private individuals with solar cells on their roofs. Add a governmental provider of last resort if you have to, or ship it in from France.

    D) The national grid negotiates with these electricity suppliers and gets electricity for the best prices it can get, it also charges the providers a “rental” for the wires used to allow for maintenance and improvements.

    E) Private companies keep making money but hopefully at a reduced rate as the grid will have more buying power than Mrs Smith of Privet Drive.

    F) If government thinks people need cheaper electricity, for instance in a downturn, it can directly subsidise the cost. If government feels a particular supplier is taking the p*ss it can reduce the amount it buys from them, buy from someone else, etc.

    G) Things are a 1000 times simpler at point of delivery and I don’t have a idiot from Scotpower or E-On or whomever knocking on my door and annoying me.

    H) Exactly the same process can be applied to gas, in fact you would fold the gas pipes into this national grid.

    I) I can simply request a portion or all of my supply is “greener”, it’s all handled centrally by one agency, it’s trackable, plottable and forecastable and I can see the extra cost that results.

    J) End result, I buy my gas & electricity from one nationalized company, and I can make my displeasure felt in the voting booth if I feel the government of the day hasn’t done enough to ensure my bills are affordable.

    I can’t think of a downside, we still have private companies, we still have price based competition, we have national direction, we have simplified billing.

    What have I missed, why won’t it work?

  • reformist lickspittle

    Where do you “get that feeling” from??

    Your own desperate, delusional wishful thinking aside obviously 😉

    Oh and there was lots lots more in the speech, as is blatantly obvious to anyone who bothers to read or listen to it.

    Try not to be such a blatantly obvious concern troll, please.

    • ToffeeCrisp

      God help the Labour Party, if your risible reply is in any way representative of the level of debate between those who remain as members. If so, I’m glad I’m out of it.

  • rekrab

    Jaime, I’m simply following the concern that high home fuel bills are causing havoc.

    Clearly we both agree that fuel bills in the UK are out stripping the rise in income.

    Jaime, you’ve been consistent for a long time on world currencies and green tax add on’s do play there part however like most privatise Industries today, it’s the consumer who suffer more.That’s my gripe and and guess the vast majority of the public would be supportive of a freeze on fuel rises and of course an ultimately better deal.

    You and I have went hammer and tongue at this issue for some time, yet three years on and we’re no closer to fuel security than we were 4 years back the way?

    P.S. are you asking for a change in the currency we use to buy gas and oil?

  • Pingback: As you probably haven’t heard, @Ed_Miliband pledged 1 million green jobs at @LabourParty conference – quietly dropped | ThatcheroftheLeft()


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