Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 17:03 UK

Labour conference at-a-glance


Gordon Brown
Mr Brown was under pressure to deliver

It was billed as the most important speech of Gordon Brown's career but did he land a knockout blow against his critics? Mr Brown outlined new policies on nursery education, cancer care and internet access for low-income families which were warmly received by the party faithful. He also showed contrition, accepting he had mistakes over the past year and set out his vision for a "fair Britain" for all. But the passages which really got tongues wagging where when he turned his fire on his enemies. Describing the Tories as unfit to run the economy, he said "this is no time for a novice". Who was he referring to? Tory leader David Cameron and his number two George Osborne, Labour ministers said. But the BBC's Nick Robinson said there may have been a subliminal message for Foreign Secretary David Miliband, whose loyalty to Mr Brown has been the subject of such public debate this week. As for Mr Miliband, he praised the speech as "excellent" while his brother and fellow cabinet minister Ed said it was the "speech of Mr Brown's life". Union reaction was also favourable but it remains to be seen whether tomorrow's headlines will be so positive and if Mr Brown can build on the momentum of the occasion.

Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly is to step down from the government at the next cabinet reshuffle. Kelly to step down from cabinet

Gordon Brown has staked his claim to be the only man to steer Britain through tough economic times saying: "This is no time for a novice." No time for novice, says Brown

Gordon Brown said he was "surprised" that his wife Sarah had wanted to take to the Labour Party conference stage to introduce him for his keynote speech. Sarah 'surprised' me, says Brown

Gordon Brown's wife Sarah entered centre stage at the Labour conference to introduce his keynote speech. Sarah Brown steps into spotlight

Gordon Brown has proved his "critics wrong" and has begun Labour's "fight back", Harriet Harman says. Harman hails Labour 'fight back':

David Miliband has dismissed a BBC story that he was overheard saying he wanted to avoid a "Heseltine moment" in his conference. Miliband rejects speech 'hearsay'

David Miliband has urged Labour to be optimistic about the future, insisting the Conservatives are "beatable". Miliband urges Labour optimism

Chancellor Alistair Darling has pledged action to deal with the "extraordinary turbulence" in the financial system. Darling pledges action on economy

Labour's finances are improving after "real progress" in reducing debts, treasurer Jack Dromey has told the party's conference. Labour Party finances 'improving'

Identity cards could be handed out to children as young as 14, a home office minister has suggested. Younger teens 'to get ID cards'


"Great, great speech. Certainly the best Brown performance I've seen. He was at ease delivering the speech... He was warm but not cheesy (unlike last year). In the big picture/vision section he was firm and inspiring, in the policy sections specific and comprehensive and in the politics of it all he was defiant and delivered some great attack lines on the Tories.... This speech has drawn the battle line in the right way for Labour: statesmanship vs showmanship and experience and substance vs inexperience and opportunism." M Areu

"Some very powerful reminders about what the govt has achieved and what we wouldn't have had under a Tory administration and a useful warning about why we must not let a Tory govt back. But at the end of the day, it's down to GB to deliver a platform that will win us the election or not. And if he can't then by his own arguments he must step down because we cannot allow another Tory govt back in to undo our achievements." Fluffy Mike

"I have to say - I've never been a fan but that was much better than I could've expected. He told a story behind the numbers, drew comparison to a cause greater than the Party and praised each cabinet member. I've wanted him gone and still would prefer that but what would be even better would be the "narrative" changes and the media give us a better hearing. Line of the speech: "Some say I'm too serious - I say there's much to be serious about." Jim Dodd

"I think he started quite well by getting straight into it and 'fessing up on the personality stuff. "Serious man for serious times" may not be a funny line, but it's a good one. Now we are getting some details - nursery places etc. I think it may set interesting challenges for Cameron's chosen tone." John DE

"My children are not props." This after just having been introduced by his wife!" Policywonk

"He is going to sort out the world finances, cure the world's sick, bring world peace, and now seemingly world equality. Is this really Gordon Brown or an imposter? He'll be promising us eternal life next." Polly's Mum

"I can't believe how bad it is. I really thought Brown might fight, but he's just read out a laundry list. The man is probably the most unsuited and incompetent PM we have had the misfortune of having." Mike, Brighton


"It was a very typical Brown speech. Poor in terms of substance. Predictable in terms of delivery. Lots of tractor figures. Low on any real detail. Lots of lists and empty promises. Business as usual then." Simon

"Several standing ovations during leader's speech reminds me of IDS. Is this the image Labour want?" Mark Pack

"I can see why some people would like Gordon Brown's rhetoric, but it's a complete turn-off for me." Will Howells

"I tried to watch but was constantly distracted by that goldfish like thing he does with his mouth." Liberal Neil


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?

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".

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