Labour conference: David Miliband back in spotlight

David Miliband David Miliband clearly enjoyed being back in the limelight

Can it really be a year since Ed Miliband pipped older brother David to the Labour leadership? As the party's annual conference gets under way in Liverpool, we watch David address delegates and ask if the right brother got the job.

"I am just a little bit in love with David Miliband. Don't tell my husband though!"

Veronica Soliba is showing off her new Facebook profile picture, featuring a grinning David Miliband with his arm around her.

She is excited because she has just watched her political hero address a packed fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference.

The all-ticket affair is the former foreign secretary's one-and-only appearance in Liverpool. By the time Ed addresses the party faithful on Tuesday, the elder Miliband brother will be in the US.

David says he does not want to deflect attention from his younger brother, and insists, in a BBC interview, that rumours of a rift between the two are "hooey and nonsense".

The message does not appear to have got through to Veronica, however, who tells me she thinks it is high time the two rival camps stopped fighting and started working together for the sake of the party.

"I hope I don't get into trouble for saying that," she adds.

Tieless and lean

Not everyone at the meeting is as big a fan as Veronica. Linda Wooding, a member of the party's National Policy Forum, says she voted for David in the leadership election but now backs Ed (his response to the phone hacking scandal was the turning point, apparently).

But there is more than a hint of David mania outside the venue. Party members and hacks jostle for position, as Miliband, tieless and lean, in a crisp white shirt, sweeps in, trailed by a TV crew.

Linda Wooding Linda Wooding voted for David - but now backs Ed

Officially, he is here to promote Movement for Change - a new campaign to recruit 10,000 "community organisers" to the Labour Party's cause based around Barack Obama's election-winning effort.

But the media pack have not queued up for half an hour to hear a debate about the reorganisation of the Labour Party. They want the thoughts of the Miliband many had long thought would be the man to succeed Gordon Brown.

So does the audience, who whoop and cheer as the South Shields MP is introduced.

"It feels like the X Factor panel," jokes fellow speaker Labour MP Stella Creasey, adding: "I hope I'm not the Louis".

'Do it yourself'

Mr Miliband is clearly enjoying being back in the limelight, but he dutifully answers the audience's questions on the value of community organisers before delivering a 20 minute speech on his vision for Labour's future.

There are no digs at Ed - subtle or otherwise - but there a few hints at the sort of speech he might have given this week if things had turned out differently last year.

Sally Mulready and David Miliband Sally Mulready was among the party members who queued up to see David Miliband in action

He speaks of the difference between the Conservatives, who he says believe in a "do it yourself Britain" and Labour, which believes in a "do it together" Britain.

But, he adds, "we often fall into the trap of looking like we believe in 'we'll do it for you Britain' - we, the politicians, the state 'will do it for you'.

"And I think in our latter years in government, the balance between rights and responsibilities, between popular action, got out of kilter.

"That's why there was the space created for the Tories to move in, as the party of the Big Society."

He also launches an impassioned attack on the "shocking" actions of the coalition government on tuition fees, the economy and range of other subjects.

And he calls on Labour to rediscover its roots as a party of the people, to deal with what he describes as the demands of a far from "normal" political times.

"We're all here because we want to put Ed into Downing Street, we want to put Labour into government. We want to put the country on the right track.

"What I have said tonight is that if we are going to do that, we have to understand our country better.

"We have got to broaden our family so that we represent the country better and we are going to have to govern the country in a different way."

It would be misleading to suggest that there is widespread unhappiness in Liverpool with Ed Miliband's leadership - or that conference delegates wish David was their leader instead.

Most seem to want to see David back in frontline politics though. And some of his supporters still hanker after the "star quality" they believe he brought to the party, even as they throw their weight behind Ed.

"We have the leader we have and we will work with him," says Sally Mulready, a Labour councillor from Hackney.

"We are very united. Everybody said there would be a schism last year, that the party would tear itself asunder and it didn't."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    137. coram-populo-2010
    Ed Balls - don't you dare talk about mortgages/rents and bills! You, as a Minister in opposition get your mortgate/council tax/energy bills/food bills paid by the tax-payer - tax free!!!!!!!!!!

    And get expenses for your wife Yvette Cooper as well as for you

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    135 RebeccaRiot

    It's not as if they reset to Zero when the gov't changes. You don't honestly believe that the present government can magically undo 13 years of mismanagement in under 2 years in the worst financial crisis since the War?

    It's like the cables at the back of the TV. You didn't plug them all in, but when something goes wrong, you've got to untangle the whole mess first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    MJG, comment number 69, the lies cheating and breaking of the country have all come from the Condems and their lying toadies in the press.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    to all the posted dissent - i bet you lot loved it when New Labour proffered the candy @ thier hieght in the 90's,could'nt get the sweeties to your banker friends quick enough,un-suprisingly i am happy,do go out a lot i have a good job so can afford to but i do know quite a few that can't & quite a few that don't share your enthusiasm for the tory party or its offshoots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    135.Rebecca Riot

    'Not Gordon's legacy'

    Get real - you couldn't be more wrong if you tried - both as holder of the purse strings and then as PM that buffoon played a massive part in steering this country into crisis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    If there was ever a serious mistake made on who to choose to represent your party then this is it.

    Labour have dragged this country below anything that any of the other parties have ever achieved since they existed.

    Many my forgive but not as many will forget the errors of the last years of us all living under the poorly managed & run Labour Government that has just left us high & dry.

  • Comment number 145.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Balls Up?
    No Balls?


  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Labour spent the first two terms in office blaming the Tories whenever they could, ironic given how strong of an economy they inherited. Worse still, the name Thatcher comes up at any given opportunity so Labour supporters are in no position to lecture others about blame. That said, we're in this mess because of 13 years of Labour government. Fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.


    It has nothing to do with who I vote for or what I believe. 22 million people (35%) don't bother to vote. Of those that do most vote not on policies or the local candidate but on a party brand or a leader. And all we end up with is a system where no-one is satisfied and spend the next 4 years taking shots at the govt instead of pressing for genuine reform.

    That is a waste.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    135 Rebecca Riot

    Gordon sold off the nation's gold reserves at the bottom of the market. If we had them now we might have have a bit of a financial cushion......

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    135. Rebecca Riot
    "Not Gordon's legacy."

    Do you really believe that Labour had nothing to do with the financial plight we find ourselves in?

    Economic principles are quite simple. If you borrow money then you have to pay it back. If you do not have any savings then you have to tighten your belt when times are tough.

    Gordon didn't want to understand that part.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Labour have zero credibility, how they can say they got it wrong when in power (and they always do) but then go on to say they would get it right this time is beyond me. The global economy is in chaos but somehow Labour think spending is the way forward, which other nations are doing this and successfully bucking the trend? Austerity measures are post Labour housekeeping before starting again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    well,can't see anything wrong with including comments on the state of the nation,if it was'nt in such a state then there may not be any need to comment,i'm a doubting Ed type,the labour party need a strong charismatic leader,someone who will back the unions,someone who is in touch with it's lower minions & understands its roots are in those lower minions,can he lead us out of the nightmare?,'erm..

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Ed Balls - don't you dare talk about mortgages/rents and bills! You, as a Minister in opposition get your mortgate/council tax/energy bills/food bills paid by the tax-payer - tax free!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    The old reformist chant of "No taxation without representation" runs to the core of our democracy. Our current National spending and consequent debt means that those not even born to vote yet will have had decisions taken for them that they haven't voted for. That can't be right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.


    Not Gordon's legacy. It is Tory ineptitude and not the remotest idea what to do. Tories just have old axes to grind. Now they have done their grinding they don't have any ideas at all. Tories are certainly not the party of employement. More like the party of spite and the lowering of wages as a punishment. Make people poor on purpose

    There is more chaos and desintegration yet to come

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    I think of the people who are likely to have voted Labour at the next election more would have rather seen David as leader than Ed. But that 'demoracy' of the electoral college won out and the one that Mr (or Mrs) Average would not have gone for was selected. I think we will see David back in the future when everyone has had enough of Ed who appears to be a sheep in sheeps clothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    David looked smoothy as usual on BBC News, last night. I am not at all sure he would have been the right man in place of Ed

    Labour needs to come up with some radical new ways to get anywhere near in the running.

    We are reduced to last desperate stand under this coalition debacle.

    A desperate last stand for the Westminster model is now at stake.

    When it tumbles what will replace it??

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    No real radical proposals from either Ed.

    As on a previous comment/subject, I suggested a simples way to increase jobs/wealth creation.

    All we have to do is create 1 million middle east envoys & if each privately earns just one tenth of Blair then we'd massively increase tax income & reduce need for government borrowing


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