Page last updated at 20:30 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 21:30 UK

Labour conference: At-a-glance


BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson assesses Chancellor Alistair Darling's Labour conference speech.


Tax. Chancellor Alistair Darling has ruled out a windfall tax on the energy giants - setting up a showdown with the unions and backbench MPs who are demanding one. There is also real mood among many delegates and MPs that it is time for a rethink on income tax. Jon Cruddas has called for a 45% rate for the highest earners to pay for cuts for low and middle income workers. Bold moves are being called for - a return to core redistributive Labour principles after the caution of the Blair years. But the government may find its hands are tied. Experts are warning that taxes will have to rise as government borrowing soars.


Darling pledges action on economy: The chancellor promises action on weaknesses in the financial system in his speech to the Labour Party conference. Chancellor Darling pledges economy action

Miliband urging Labour optimism: David Miliband urges Labour to be optimistic about its prospects, saying "these Tories are beatable" in the next election.Mililband rallies party 'doubters'

Labour pressed over windfall tax: Union leaders and Labour MPs call for a windfall tax on energy companies at the party's conference. Pressure stepped up on windfall tax

Energy security 'vital' - Hutton: Guaranteeing the security of energy supplies has become a "defining" issue for the country, John Hutton has told the Labour Party conference. John Hutton backs coal and nuclear


Anti ID card campaigner Phil Booth failed to make to a fringe meeting earlier - because he could not get an ID card. Mr Booth had been relishing the prospect of debating the government's controversial ID scheme with Home Office minister Meg Hillier.

But when he turned up at Labour's pass office in Manchester he was told there had been a problem with his application - and it would cost him 600 for a temporary pass to enter the conference for an hour - far too pricey for an organisation which relies on voluntary donations.

"I am not so paranoid to think it was directed at me personally," said the fuming campaigner when we caught up with him later by phone.

"But if this is how they are organising the ID for their own party conference, how the heck are they going to organise ID cards for 50 million people?".

Mr Booth's speech was read out by someone from the meeting's organisers "No ID, No sale".


Ed Balls

Ed Balls has been compared to David Beckham by the Daily Mail - which has kindly covered every angle of this unofficial pre-match photo shoot. Balls scored twice when Labour MPs beat lobby journalists 5-2 in their annual conference charity clash.

One unlikely cheerleader for any Balls campaign has emerged. A Liberal Democrat activists site has launched a vote to see beyond "partisan calculations" to help find the most effective "next leader" of the Labour party. Does not look entirely non-partisan however.

David Miliband (who you may have spotted in many newspapers and magazines over the last few days) is of course not a leadership contender, but there has been an early peek into his thoughts to be fleshed out in an article to be published in Progress magazine this Thursday (when Gordon Brown will be in New York). Highlights appeared in the Observer. The Evening Standard meanwhile reports that it has a leaked list of a possible Miliband Cabinet. No room for Douglas Alexander in it though. And who is the person thought best to deal with the credit crunch at the Treasury? John Hutton.


Just before the list emerged, however, Business Secretary John Hutton managed to upset one labour loyalist. A Labour grassroots website reports the resignation of one party member who was listening to the World at One and thought a "blinkered Conservative" was on the airwaves dismissing conference's call for renationalisation - only to discover it was the Labour MP himself.

Another possible leadership contender in the Cabinet James Purnell (Miliband's fantasy foreign secretary in the Evening Standard list) faced questions from Andrew Neil. He refused to speculate on the likelihood of a recession but had lots to say on the future of Gordon Brown.

Purnell defends Labour on economy

Could John Reid be thinking of running for leader of the Labour Party should the position become available? According to the Daily Mail's Benedict Brogan, the Tories own focus groups data suggested they feared Labour led by John Reid most.


More on Deborah Mattinson's advice for current leader Gordon Brown. The Times' Sam Coates was at a fringe meeting with the pollster and heard highlights from her strategy presentation including the need to have a "proper fight" come an election and to continue to depict David Cameron as a "shallow salesman" in charge of the "nasty party".

One person who is "exhausted trying to fathom the new Brown" however is the BBC's Robert Peston who has blogged his analysis of when Gordon Brown defended his economic record to Andrew Marr. The former Brown biographer is pretty brutal.

Some free advice for Gordon Brown from political commentator Jonathan Freedland and former strategist Matthew Taylor ahead of his big speech on Tuesday. The speech should be memorable, full of concrete measures and needs to pacify anyone angry with "big business" while offering a remedy for the country.

The speech will be a big test for new speechwriter Tim Kiddell as the Evening Standard reports - although apparently Stephen Carter and Alastair Campbell will be on hand to offer advice. No such advice from the Daily Mirror's Kevin Maguire however who had to repeatedly avoid answering Andrew Neil's questions on the Daily Politics as to whether he was offered a job by Brown or would take one. Maguire said an "ill disciplined hack addicted to mischief is the last thing (Gordon Brown) needs at the moment".

After sparring with former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott on the BBC Politics Show which broadcast live from Manchester, Spectator and News of the World columnist Fraser Nelson declared himself the loser in this tussle:

Prescott vs Fraser: 31 mins and 30 secs in

Perhaps he understood how Charles Clarke felt here:

John Prescott calls Charles Clarke 'bitter'

But Nelson's point that the level of national debt rose above the level Gordon Brown inherited as Chancellor is one the Conservatives look keen to continue. Perhaps there may be a Prescott vs Nelson round two?


Not exactly relating to this week's conference but some breaking Liberal Democrats news - well, it has got their online activists excited at least. While all eyes were on Tony Blair's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart the Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg featured in the build-up to Blair's appearance as part of host Jon Stewart's crash course in British politics from his British foil, John Oliver. It involved examining the "jokes" in Nick Clegg's conference speech. Stewart was not amused.

The mood is hardening on City bonuses. Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of trade union Unite, said the system is "out of control". He told the chancellor: "If you can't regulate the bonus culture, then tax it out of existence." John McFall, chairman of Treasury Select Committee, said there is a new paradigm and "yesterday's excesses can not go on".

Labour has a "5% to 10%" chance of winning the next election, according to Ben Page of pollsters IPSOS MORI. In fact, he told a fringe meeting, it would be "amazing" if they managed to pull it off. They are even more unpopular than John Major's government in the early 1990s.


Boris Johnson is the gift that keeps on giving for Labour. We make it three cabinet ministers now (Smith, Purnell, Miliband since you ask) who have quoted him describing David Cameron's talk of a "broken society" as "piffle".


Be yourself
David Miliband's reply when asked what advice he would give Gordon Brown for his big speech on Tuesday.


Charles Clarke, for one, hasn't been put off by Mr Miliband's denial. His latest comments came on BBC Radio 5 Live: ''I think there are about 5 or 6 people who'd do a very good job as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister. Of whom David (Miliband) I think would probably be the best. But actually I think there's a range of people who would do well. You are right that everybody in the current circumstances, says that they are not wanting to be a candidate against Gordon, I completely understand that. But in the event there were a leadership election, I think a number of people would come forward who would do a good job.''


Labour delegates overwhelmingly backed party founder Keir Hardie as their favourite "Labour hero" at a fringe event organised by the Guardian - but a poll of Labour MPs suggested they preferred the "understated" Clement Attlee - who was championed at the event by David Blunkett. Close Brown ally Ed Balls argued Aneurin Bevan should get the accolade - only to find the rest of the panel set against it. "It's clear that my candidate is the man to have a pop at, but that's enough of modern parallels," Mr Balls quipped.

"I'm not going into that trap again," Cherie Blair told a fringe meeting on street crime organised by the Sun. She had been asked if Gordon Brown was the man to see through measures to tackle crime. Two years ago a reporter claimed to have overheard Mrs Blair saying "that's a lie" as Mr Brown gave a speech. She denied she had said it.

One of Labour's highest profile prospective Parliamentary candidates said Mr Brown needed to "throw away the customary caution and be bold" if Labour are to reconnect with voters, at a fringe event organised by the Independent. Chuka Umunna, a young lawyer from the left of the party, hopes to become the next Labour MP in Streatham, south London. He told delegates Labour was failing to connect emotionally with voters.

Brown pledges action on economy
20 Sep 08 |  Politics
PM hits back over leadership talk
19 Sep 08 |  Politics

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