As it happened: Wednesday at conference

Key points

  • Ed Miliband defends his leader's speech amid claims that it was "anti-business". Later he will answer questions from members of the public
  • Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper outlined plans for an independent review of policing in England and Wales
  • Debates on the NHS and schools, with John Healey and Andy Burnham among those speaking

    Welcome to our live coverage of the fourth day of the Labour party conference in Liverpool. The dust is still settling after Ed Miliband's leader's speech yesterday and the man himself will be answering questions about it from hundreds of members of the public at 1730 BST. Those quizzing him will not be party activists.


    The Labour leader has come under fire after he labelled some businesses "predators" and "asset-strippers". Mr Miliband has insisted he is "pro-business" but former Labour trade minister Lord Jones has suggested the opposition leader was playing "to the union gallery" and many business people would regard his remarks as a "kick in the teeth". Expect more discussion on this as the day goes on.


    Ed Miliband has also been talking about personal issues. Asked by the BBC whether some people regarded him as "weird", the Labour leader said he did "not give a damn" what people thought about his appearance and speaking style as he wanted to focus on the big issues and the serious challenges facing the economy.


    It isn't all about the Labour leader today. Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper will be giving more details of her proposal for an independent review of policing in England and Wales - to be headed by former Met Police commissioner Lord Stevens. The NHS and schools will also be in the spotlight, with shadow health secretary John Healey and shadow education secretary Andy Burnham giving speeches.


    Back to yesterday's big talking point. The Federation of Small Businesses says it is "worried" by the tone of some of Ed Miliband's comments and the suggestion businesses could be taxed differently according to their contribution to the economy. But Lord Glasman, a Miliband adviser, says Labour's agenda is "pro-business" but mindful of the need to "break the grip of finance that only wants short-term returns".


    Ed Miliband has been doing the media rounds following his speech.

    Ed Miliband

    In the conference hall, a debate on police budgets is getting under way. John Hannett, from the shopworkers' union Usdaw, praises Labour's record in government and says violent crime against his members halved between 2004 and 2010. Coalition cuts will push crime and unemployment up, he argues.


    BBC political reporter Victoria King reports: Wry smiles at the police fringe meeting when the chairman introduced Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, and failed candidate for Met Police chief. He was described as "one of the few senior officers to stick his head above the parapet", politically speaking. Sir Hugh himself leaned over to a colleague and muttered: "Yeah, it got shot off."


    During his Q&A session, Ed Miliband will also be responding to questions from Twitter users. What will they be asking him? The BBC has seen some of the questions submitted so far. Several want to know whether he will back a pensions strike while others are interested in Europe, the NHS and ID cards. Some inquiries are a little more racy and irreverent, however...


    One tweet asks the Labour leader to name his favourite flavour of crisps while another pushes the boundaries even further by posing the question whether Mr Miliband ever wears his wife's underwear to a big debate "just for luck". Good luck trying to get that one on the agenda.


    A reminder of life outside the conference hall. Delegates are told that Yvette Cooper is unable to attend the first part of the debate on police budgets because she is dealing with the aftermath of the tragic death of a miner in her Yorkshire constituency.


    Shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell tears into the Big Society in her speech to conference. She describes it as a "big flop" and accuses David Cameron of "empty words".


    Yvette Cooper is in her seat now to hear former union leader, now Labour MP, Jack Dromey attack the government's response to last month's riots. Ministers "in Bermuda shorts" had claimed credit for returning from holiday to restore order when they had little to do with it. He praises the police for showing restraint and rejecting calls to use water cannon and baton rounds.


    Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan is speaking. He starts with a joke at the expense of his opposite number Ken Clarke. Noting that some shadow ministers are said to end up resembling their rivals, he says there is no danger of that as he "does not wear Hush Puppies or smoke cigars and manage to stay awake during my leader's speech".


    Ed Miliband has been speaking to our political editor Nick Robinson. The Labour leader says some people will have liked his speech yesterday and some people will not - but "big change" is needed.


    Asked about his background, Mr Miliband says he has had a "relatively comfortable life" and he is not pretending otherwise - but that is not the question, the question is where he can take the country.


    What about Mr Miliband's criticism of energy companies yesterday? Wasn't he energy secretary in the last government? Mr Miliband says Labour didn't do everything right but "crucial" action was taken - for example on pre-paid meters - and he was "proud" of what had been achieved.


    In the hall, Sadiq Khan moves onto the substance of his brief. He admits re-offending rates fell too slowly under Labour and community sentences were often not tough enough.


    Amid all the speeches, spare a thought for those not picked to have their say at Labour's great showpiece event. One delegate is holding up a laptop computer, whose screen keeps flashing between these words: "Hallo. Pick. Me. Please." To no avail.


    As the law and order debate continues, Mr Khan contrasts Labour's record in reducing levels of crime with the current government, which he says is "hopelessly out of touch" on the issue.


    Tony Blair's pledge to be "tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime" is as relevant now as it was when he said it in 1993, Mr Khan - one of the closest allies of current Labour leader Ed Miliband - suggests.


    Much jostling for attention among delegates in the hall for a chance to speak. Jose Alexander is delighted to be picked - as he takes the stage Angela Eagle, who is chairing the panel, says: "Don't say I'm not fair, ok? I'm a softy".


    Keith Vaz takes the stage in the conference hall - he gets a small cheer for name checking two unions as he takes the mic. The home affairs committee chairman says the coalition has "lost the confidence" of the police.


    Here's a quick screen grab of some of those super-keen delegates, trying to be called to speak.

    Labour delegates

    Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales - which represents rank-and-file police officers - heads up to the conference stage. He paces back and forth as he delivers his message: "I've never known times like these". After 34 years in the force he's "never seen anything like" the summer riots.


    It wasn't "a couple of politicians coming back to their desks which solved the riots, it was tens of thousands of police officers..." Mr McKeever says - to be interrupted by applause from the audience. There was a bit of a row about who exactly was responsible for the "surge" of police officers onto the streets, which brought an end to days of disorder.


    Mr McKeever gets a good response from Labour members as he contrasts the speed of police cuts with the rather slower approach to reforming the banks. "It seems madness to us," he says.


    Daily Politics show presenter Andrew Neil has been looking in detail at some of the ideas from Ed Miliband's speech yesterday. Take a look on his blog


    Police Federation chairman Mr McKeever says that spending cuts to police budgets will be "much deeper" than envisaged by the government, and he estimated them at "between 26% and 32%". Police officers feel "greatly unloved", he adds.


    A long standing ovation for Mr McKeever when he wraps up his speech - Ed Miliband and Yvette Cooper are among those on their feet behind him.


    Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper pays tribute to the police as she begins her speech.


    Ms Cooper says Labour didn't get everything right. Attempts to extend pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects, first to 90 days, then to 42 days, were not "justified by the evidence" - this goes down well with Labour activists. But Tony Blair was right to pledge to be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" and Labour should be proud of its record, she argues.


    Ms Cooper says the government is taking a "reckless risk" with its police cuts. The government argues that many savings can be made in "back office" roles without affecting those on the streets - the shadow home secretary thinks otherwise.


    Ms Cooper's voice rises as she says the prime minister should not be "handing P45s to crime-fighting heroes". Her speech is punctuated by applause from the audience. She slows down to drive home her message: "Police numbers do matter".


    Here's a quick shot of Ms Cooper giving her speech on policing.

    Yvette Cooper

    Here's a clip from the Today programme earlier, with Ed Miliband responding to the suggestion that the word most commonly used in focus groups to describe him was "weird". "It's in the eye of the beholder," the Labour leader jokes.


    Later on the "international speaker" at the conference will be Eskil Perdersen - he's the leader of the youth wing of the Norwegian Labour Party and was on the island of Utoya on the day of the massacre in July. He's due to speak from around 1550 BST.


    Ms Cooper wraps up her speech and gets a kiss on the cheek from Ed Miliband as she returns to her seat. Her husband Ed Balls claps from the audience.


    John Longworth from the British Chambers of Commerce tells the BBC that there were some good things for business in Mr Miliband's speech, but it was a shame there was an overall "anti-business" tone.


    Following her speech, Yvette Cooper tells BBC Two's Daily Politics that some of the work being done in the US city of Boston to tackle gangs could be implemented in the UK.


    There was a policy announcement in Sadiq Khan's speech earlier. He promised to introduce legislation to give victims of crime greater rights. The move, he says, would put bereaved families "at the heart" of the justice system, give them more support in court and ensure they are treated "with dignity and respect". This is an idea put forward by the Victims Commissioner Louise Casey.


    Yvette Cooper says she doesn't think that husband Ed Balls will run again for the Labour leadership. He came third in last year's contest.


    More on Ed Miliband's speech. The BBC's Norman Smith says the Labour leader feels he has been "forced on to the back foot" by the reaction from senior business figures.


    Ed Balls watches attentively as wife Yvette Cooper speaks.

    Ed Balls

    The Labour Party donor, Peter Coates, tells BBC Radio 4's The World at One that it is "silly" to label Ed Miliband as anti-business. The Stoke City FC chairman - also the director of bookmakers Bet365, has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to Labour. He says Mr Miliband's attack on "asset-stripping" companies "shouldn't be oversimplified".


    A cheeky question from Martha Kearney on the World at One. Has Yvette Cooper ruled herself out of ever running for the Labour leadership? That's just "mischevious", the shadow home secretary replies, adding Ed Miliband is doing a good job: "It's not part of my plans, it's not part of anyone else's plans." She doesn't categorically rule it out though.


    It's been a busy day for Ms Cooper. Before giving her conference speech, she returned to her constituency, where one miner has been killed and another injured after a roof collapsed at a pit. She tells World at One the news was "deeply tragic" and her thoughts are with the families.


    As the party conference is on lunch break, some other political news. Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, is unhappy about a European Commission proposal that there should be a financial transaction tax in all EU member states. He says it would affect foreign exchange trading, the insurance industry and others. The Eurosceptic MEP lays down the gauntlet to the PM. "David Cameron needs to say today, loudly and clearly, that he is against it in principle and that he would not accept it under any circumstances."


    Is Ed Miliband - whom some tabloids initially dubbed "Red Ed" - left wing? Our political editor Nick Robinson has blogged on the issue here


    While it's quiet, here's a photo of Keith Vaz and Sadiq Khan, sharing a laugh on the Labour conference stage earlier.

    Keith Vaz and Sadiq Khan

    Poor Yvette Cooper - she's delivered a speech on policing but she keeps getting asked questions about her future leadership ambitions. Here she tells Andrew Neil that she doesn't think her husband Ed Balls - who came third in last year's contest after the Miliband brothers - will run again.


    Former deputy chief constable of North Yorkshire police, Peter Walker, told BBC Radio 4's World at One that he did not think Ms Cooper's suggestion of a review of policing was a good idea when two other reviews, the Leveson inquiry into hacking and Tom Winsor's review of police pay, were under way. "This is really just placing the issue of policing in a political context by one political party. There is already a lot of activity going on in terms of police reform."


    The afternoon session has begun in the conference hall. It kicks off with a debate on health.


    James Anthony, a nurse and a Unison member, gets a cheer as he says he will be voting "yes" to strikes over changes to public sector pensions.


    There are plenty of attacks on the "Tory-led government" - a repeated phrase - on the conference stage. Delegates are not happy about the government's NHS plans. There are cries of "shame" as Krystle Fonyonga, from Enfield, north London, says the local Chase Farm hospital has been "betrayed" by the government.


    All sorts of things are being waved in the air by delegates hoping to get the chance to speak in the conference hall - one woman was called up after waving her walking stick. And here, a toy dog is held proudly aloft, on a stick wrapped in a spotty cloth. Surely it's only a matter of time before it catches the chairman's eye?


    BBC political correspondent Robin Brant reports: The Labour leader of Liverpool City Council has said he would leave the Labour Party if Ed Miliband was suggesting people in work should be given priority in social housing over the unemployed. Joe Anderson told the BBC that he disagrees with the principle that anyone out of work should be treated differently simply because they are unemployed. In his speech, Mr Miliband said he wanted the welfare system which "works for working people" and he was prepared to take "tough decisions", including on social housing.


    The Labour List website says reshuffle rumours are in the air and has been asking its readers for their favourite shadow cabinet members. It's good news for Yvette Cooper, who comes out top. It's bad news for Ann McKechin, the shadow Scottish secretary, who came bottom - apparently less popular than shadow Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward, a former Conservative.


    A "health discussion panel" begins in the conference hall. Sir Roger Boyle, the retiring National Director for Heart Disease, is on the panel, as is shadow health secretary John Healey.


    Sir Roger, who was appointed by Alan Milburn to the "heart tsar" role under the previous Labour government, says he worked with a string of Labour health secretaries but found Andrew Lansley "rather more difficult to deal with". Not a fan of Mr Lansley's NHS shakeup, he says: "I resigned in July because I did not think there was a democratic mandate for doing the things they are planning to do," he says - to applause.


    Shadow health secretary John Healey wraps up the health debate as he steps up to begin his speech. He says Labour "reject the Tory plans" and back the "founding principles" of the NHS - he gets a round of applause. The NHS went down well with activists during Ed Miliband's speech yesterday.


    David Cameron might live to regret cutting police numbers when trade unions step up their battle over government cuts and pensions, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has warned. He told a fringe meeting that in the 1980s Margaret Thatcher "strengthened the arms of the establishment through the police force and the security forces in preparation for the battle." But he added: "Cameron's doing the opposite because he obviously thinks trade unions are a bunch of pussycats. Maybe we need to prove him wrong."


    Laying into the government's health policy, John Healey accuses the prime minister of breaking promises on the NHS, which he says is "going backwards again under the Tories".


    The audience listens quietly as Mr Healey goes through concerns about the government's NHS plans.


    The audience applauds as a softly spoken Mr Healey says hospitals "should be in public hands, not private hands". He wraps up saying: "It's our faith, it's our fight."


    Shadow education secretary Andy Burnham will be up shortly. In the meantime, delegates are being picked to give their thoughts on education from the podium.


    While we await Mr Burnham - here's a clip from the Daily Politics earlier - of an interview with John Denham about Mr Miliband's speech, particularly the references to rewarding "good" business practices.


    Labour delegates have unanimously backed a call for James Murdoch to quit as chairman of BSkyB, over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, who put forward the motion, said he was "delighted".


    Martin Dore, of the Socialist Educational Association, accuses the Conservatives of "dismantling state education as we speak" - he keeps talking as the chair tries to cut him short, speaking more loudly as he draws to a close. Lots of applause.


    After the speech, time for reflection.

    Ed Miliband

    The fresh-faced Callum Munro, a member of the Labour Party's ruling National Executive Committee, gives an impassioned address to the conference. "We must offer the next generation a genuine alternative to the Tory slash-and-burn approach," he says. He gets some cheers as he leaves.


    Head teacher of the Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull, Andrew Chubb, takes to the stage. He does not agree with plans for an English Baccalaureate. Apparently he's designed his own version. Is that a snub from Chubb?


    One copper, two clappers. Yvette Cooper and Ed Miliband applaud Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever.

    Yvette Cooper, Ed Miliband and Police Federation chairman Paul McKeever

    Another headteacher takes the stand - Yvonne Sharples, head of Parklands High School in Speke, which she says has made "tremendous progress" in recent years, having once been described as the worst in the country. She accuses Education Secretary Michael Gove of "moving the goalposts" and labelling the school as "failing".


    Education Secretary Andy Burnham takes the stage. He's had a "great week", starting with the politicians vs journalists football match. Ed Balls looks rather surprised when Mr Burnham jokes, in a rather size-ist manner, that pictures of Mr Balls in his football kit suggested there was "certainly no squeezed middle". Ouch!


    A keen Everton fan, Mr Burnham now makes a joke about this weekend's derby match against rivals Liverpool, hoping the city will be painted blue.


    Down to the serious stuff. Labour has not focused nearly enough on the 50% of young people who do not plan to go to university, Mr Burnham says. Those going down the vocational route should have the "same ambition and sense of purpose" as graduates, he tells delegates.


    Education Secretary Michael Gove is taking the schools system "back to the future", he adds, with subjects such as Latin and Greek being prioritised over engineering, IT and business studies.


    Attacking the government's new free schools, Mr Burnham says Michael Gove is "throwing money" at schools he favours while all others are neglected. Labour supports "all schools and all children" not "some schools and some children", he says - to loud cheers.


    The shadow education secretary wraps up his speech by promising to put "hope in the heart of every pupil" in the country. He is greeted by Ed Miliband as he leaves the stage - to warm applause.


    Labour delegates have been watching a video message from the Norwegian Labour Party leader and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was widely praised for his leadership in the aftermath of July's terrorist attacks. Mr Stoltenberg says the British Labour party has always been a "great inspiration" to him.


    Mr Stoltenberg's message is a precursor to a speech by Eskil Pederson, the president of the Norwegian Labour Party's youth league, who was on the island of Utoya on the day of the massacre.


    Mr Pederson says it is "still incomprehensible" that the attacks took place and that people were targeted simply because they believed in "fairness and equality".


    He thanks Ed Miliband for being one of the first political leaders to send their condolences to the Norwegian people after the attacks.


    Mr Pederson says the massacre was intended to "destroy multiculturalism" in Norway but had failed. He gets a loud round of applause as he finishes his remarks.


    Education, education, education. A young delegate demonstrates her mastery of the apostrophe. But why the underlined emphasis on the "ent" bit of student? Does she holler the second syllable of her occupational/educational title when introducing herself? We must know.

    Student delegate

    The action in the hall has now been adjourned as activists are encouraged to make their way to a series of policy seminars behind closed doors.


    Looking ahead to Ed Miliband's Q&A session with members of the public, the BBC's Norman Smith says the Labour leader will have no advance knowledge of the questions and will have to think on his feet. The event will be hosted by comedian Eddie Izzard and broadcaster and Labour peer Joan Bakewell.


    On the day when Andy Burnham sang the praises of those with non-academic abilities, Labour has shot itself in the foot by dashing a young lady's showbiz aspirations. BBC reporter Victoria King was barred from entering the Labour conference's own X Factor-cum-Dragons' Den-style talent contest. The would-be chanteuse was told to stay away, with these words: "It's a private event. No media access." She could-a been a contender. Oh OK, she was only going to watch the event, not take part - but that's not such a good story. In any case, what are they trying to hide?


    More on exclusions from the BBC's Victoria King. The Q&A is supposed to be an opportunity for members of the public who do not normally attend party meetings to challenge Ed Miliband. Our reporter has been talking to some of those taking part. While many of them are genuinely unaligned, she says some are Labour members who have decided to come along.


    Head teacher Yvonne Sharples hugs Andy Burnham. The shadow education secretary can expect a less warm greeting from Ed Balls after his comments earlier (see the 1617 entry).

    Head teacher Yvonne Sharples hugs Andy Burnham

    They see him here. They see him there. Those delegates see him everywhere. Comedian Eddie Izzard is a seemingly ubiquitous presence at the conference. He's co-hosting the Ed Miliband Q&A in a few minutes.

    Eddie Izard and delegates

    Ahead of the Q&A, John Healey denies that Ed Miliband has been blown off course by the controversy surrounding his comments about "predatory" businesses. The shadow health secretary says it is no surprise there is a reaction when someone "challenges the orthodoxy".


    People in the hall are being asked to take their seats. It looks like we will be under way soon.


    Just so people have got the message, the classic James hit Sit Down is now being played in the hall.


    Ed Miliband is on stage. His entry tune was Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon.


    Host Eddie Izzard, dressed in black, suggests it the "first time" any UK political party has thrown open their conference to members of the public on such a scale.


    Opening the session, Ed Miliband says it shows that Labour is not "just talking to itself" and that politics "should be opened up to the public".


    Mr Miliband is reflecting on his speech yesterday. He says he is convinced that new values are needed to underpin the Britain he wants to build. He talks about efforts to democratise the Labour party and to make it easy for people to vote in elections.


    He may live to regret this. Ed Miliband says he wants no "patsy" questions, only "hard" ones.


    The first question is from a Labour member. Mr Miliband is praised for his comments on "asset-stripping" firms but asked how firms can be rewarded for keeping jobs in the UK rather than moving them abroad.


    Mr Miliband is taking questions in batches of three. The second question is about last month's riots while the third is about benefits and whether Labour has failed to support people with disabilities affected by the government's welfare reforms.


    On the riots, Ed Miliband praises David Cameron's "hug-a-hoodie" speech in 2006 and says it is a matter of "profound regret" that he has moved away from using that kind of language.


    The Labour leader acknowledges he could have been clearer in differentiating between those whose disabilities stop them from working and those who are able to work. "Fair point", he tells the questioner.


    Ed Miliband is asked if the country is "winning the war on drugs". He says no but he insists that decriminalising banned substances would send the "wrong signal".


    Ed Miliband is asked about his distinction between good and bad businesses. He says his is a "pro-business" message but he is opposed to "business as usual". Not all banks are predatory but those that engage in short-selling and similar practices should be criticised, he insists.


    Ed Miliband again urges questions from people who are not Labour Party members.


    Here's an open-ended question. Why should a 17-year old vote Labour?


    A local resident - describing herself as a "lapsed Labour member" - asks about the future of a hospital in Liverpool. She says she is worried that it will be privatised and be taken over by a foreign company.


    On Labour's message to young people, Ed Miliband admits he cannot "promise the earth" on tuition fees. He says climate change is of the utmost importance to the next generation and it is his and other politicians' responsibilities to address the threat.


    Here's an interesting moment. A man who asks a question about protecting pensions walks out of the hall when Mr Miliband says the current system needs reform because people are living longer. Ed Miliband jokes that he "clearly does not agree with me".


    Ed Miliband deals with questions from the audience.

    Ed Miliband Q&A

    In answer to that NHS question, Ed Miliband says he is opposed to private firms running hospitals. On other subjects raised, he says he is looking at how to open up internships to a wider range of people and challenging elitism in education. He also says there need to be more working-class MPs.


    He is now answering questions from Twitter users. He promises to close corporate tax loopholes. He also stresses that it will be "much tougher" to sustain high expenditure levels in future due to the deficit.


    Via a video link, Ed Miliband is asked whether he would support the introduction of a maximum wage. The Labour says this is not possible in a free economy but he calls for more responsibility at the top of society.


    Here is a slightly uncomfortable question. A woman suggests it is time David Miliband "is brought out of political Siberia". She says the media is focusing on his situation - he is not part of his brother's top team at the moment - and the party must unite to "move forward".


    Ed Miliband says his brother is a "massive asset" and has been "incredibly supportive" of his leadership. He says he wants him in the shadow cabinet but that it is up to David to decide about his future.


    It looks for a moment that Eddie Izzard is bringing the session to a halt. But Ed Miliband says he wants to continue and suggested the questions so far have not been "hard enough".


    A delegate called Thomas says Labour is not offering enough protection to the vulnerable, including workers worried about their pensions, and should move further to the left. In response, Ed Miliband says Labour must be in the centre ground and appeal to people who voted Conservatives at the last election.


    Ed Miliband has been answering questions for more than an hour now and the session is coming to an end. The newspapers will no doubt judge whether it has been a success or not. Anyway, that concludes our coverage of the day's events and of Labour's party conference, which ends on Thursday morning. Please join us next week for live coverage of the Conservative conference in Manchester.


Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.