Operation Fightback, as the party has branded its conference, got fully under way in Brighton on Monday with tough talk about cracking down on bankers' bonuses from chancellor Alistair Darling. However that message faced a battle to dominate the day's agenda with the papers full of polls, talk of alternative Labour leaders and Andrew Marr's question to Gordon Brown about prescription painkillers.
Chancellor Alistair Darling promised legislation to put an end to bank bonuses causing excessive risk taking. Bonuses should not be paid out automatically every year, he told the conference, but tied to long term performance and clawed back if companies failed to deliver.
Darling to act on bonuses
Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper said the government would maintain cold winter payments for those on low incomes at current levels and pledged to expand job creation schemes.
Protect investment, ministers urge
Energy secretary Ed Miliband claimed Labour were the "real greens" in British politics. He promised action to force energy firms to offer discounted rates to their poorest customers and simplify their tariffs.
Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said the Conservatives were still "hated" by many people in Scotland. He attacked First Minister Alex Salmond's independence referendum plan and claimed the SNP administration had "totally mishandled" the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
Scottish referendum plans attacked
Business Secretary Lord Mandelson was initially refused entry to the Labour Party conference in Brighton because of a problem with his security pass. A security guard called a police sergeant to verify his credentials. Lord Mandelson had to wait 10 minutes at the conference's security entrance before he was allowed to enter.
Mandelson denied conference entry
Chancellor Alistair Darling has urged Labour to "come out fighting", comparing his party to a football team which has "lost the will to live".
Chancellor urges Labour to fight
Lord Mandelson, having managed to gain entry to the conference, told a Sunday fringe meeting Labour must show it is "up for the fight" at the next general election. He said there was a "chasm" between their party and the Tories. "That is something I welcome, it excites me, it doesn't daunt me".
We're up for fight
Gordon Brown told the BBC's Andrew Marr programme he will "ban the old bonus system" and force banks to act in a more responsible manner. "We are going to clean up the system once and for all," he said. The measures will "represent the toughest action of any country in the world."
Brown to 'ban old bonus system'
The Tobacco Retailers Alliance stand
It's a good job the people on the Tobacco Retailers' Alliance are not the paranoid type, otherwise they might begin to think Labour had it in for them. The lobby group showed up at the party's conference to campaign against fresh government restrictions on the sale of cigarettes, only to find they had been placed under a sign saying The Killers (the indie band are forthcoming attraction at the Brighton centre). "It is not very helpful," says a member of the Alliance, gazing up at the sign, but he does not think it was deliberate. "The stand opposite have got Dizzee Rascal", he adds.
The launch of an election campaign website by a trade union would not normally be cause for huge media interest but the Unite stand in the conference hall was swamped by photographers on Monday afternoon. The reason soon became clear when boxing champ Amir Khan weighed in. Dressed in a smart suit and flanked by the burly frames of union bosses Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, he posed for photos and batted away questions about why he was at the Labour conference when he had also been pictured with David Cameron. Perhaps only the world light welterweight champ would have felt confident enough to say the Tory leader was "a good friend of mine" when surrounded by such union heavyweights. He ducked another question about which way he planned to vote and said he was just interested in getting people fit ahead of the 2012 Olympics. So why was he promoting the site? "I came with a friend - Richard" he said, gesturing at sports minister Richard Caborn.
Lord Mandelson outwitted photographers hoping to catch him enjoying a red carpet moment as he arrived at a fringe venue on Monday evening. The Old Ship Hotel had put the carpet down for a special party to celebrate its 450th birthday. But the wily business secretary was not taking any chances. Clearly not wanting to be snapped lording it over his humble subjects after his rapturously received conference speech, he managed to enter the building with barely a step on the VIP carpet, by elegantly stepping over a velvet rope. Smooth. Not everybody is buying into Mandymania though. Asked on the BBC News Channel if he was planning to buy a Mandelson souvenir from the conference fringe, former Labour spin chief Charlie Whelan replied: "I am going to get a Peter Mandelson sick bag."
Delegates are being offered the chance to have their photo taken with Tony Blair - if they pay a £180 surcharge for a conference ticket. Standard £240 tickets for the Surrey Regional Economic Summit, in Canada on 6 October, include the opportunity to listen to the former prime minister deliver a lunchtime address. But if they fork out for a £420 premium ticket, delegates are guaranteed a photograph with the former Labour leader and a better seat for his speech. Organisers are expecting a sell-out. But if that sounds a bit steep, Labour candidates and elected representatives can pose for a snap with Gordon Brown here in Brighton on Wednesday for free...
YOU SAY FIGHTBACK...
Everywhere you look in the Brighton conference centre you see the slogan Operation Fightback. A catchy phrase for Labour's looming election battle perhaps, but has anyone at party HQ bothered to enter the phrase into Google? If they did, they might get a surprise. The top suggested link is "operation fightback bnp". No mention of the Labour Party. Oops.
The Green Party have raided the piggy bank to pay for some very prominent billboards informing delegates Labour is Old News in Brighton. Party leader Caroline Lucas is hoping to become the party's first MP in the Brighton Pavillion seat.
COMPLIMENTS ALL ROUND?
Lord Mandelson told an audience at the Progress fringe meeting the ministers on the panel were "fresh faced" and he had had to renew his own gym membership "to keep up with them". Complimenting the line-up of Tessa Jowell, David Miliband and Andy Burnham on their appearance - he looked over at the chief secretary of the Treasury and quipped: "And there's Liam as well." Mr Byrne took it well.
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