Labour conference pledges under scrutiny from Andrew Neil

Ed Miliband Ed Miliband divided British companies into good and bad

Party conferences are a maelstrom of things said that don't turn out to be quite accurate or don't manage to last the week.

That's true of all party conferences but we're in Liverpool with Labour so let's look at some examples from here.

Ed Miliband used yesterday's keynote speech to divide British companies into good and bad or "predator" and "producer".

But I couldn't get any Labour spokesmen to give me examples of either.

Mr Miliband singled out Southern Cross as a baddie, a private equity company that presided over the bankruptcy of old folks' homes and a business track record to be ashamed of.

Since Labour sometimes speaks as if private equity is synonymous with asset-stripping perhaps it is filing private equity under bad. But the AA, RAC, Boots, United Biscuits (McVities, Jacob's Cream Crackers) and several other household companies are all owned by private equity - and few would regard them as bad.

The Labour leader also singled out John Rose, the former boss of Rolls Royce, as the best of British presiding over a good, producer company.

But Sir John has just joined Rothschild's, a City banker that specialises in mergers and acquisitions - and M&As can sometimes involve asset stripping. So do we now remove him from the good file and stick him in the bad?

Then there was the party's new poster boy, 16-year-old Rory Weal who wowed the conference with his tale of being one step away from destitution only to be saved by the welfare state.

Jo Coburn interviews Rory Weal on Tuesday's Daily Politics

His family did indeed fall on hard times but it was from a pretty wealthy base (a £2m+ house).

This is no tale of grinding working class poverty - which meant this nice middle class lad was soon living in a decent house in Kent again (he had to move from private school to grammar school - which not everybody will regard as a sacrifice).

As an example of words that don't last the day, never mind the week, let me finish with Ivan Lewis.

Labour's Culture secretary called yesterday for a register of journalists, from which they be struck off for bad behaviour.

This caused a huge backlash with media from the left and right attacking the idea of journalists working under licence. By early evening the party had quietly ditched the whole idea.

Soon we'll be out of Liverpool and on to Manchester, where no doubt the Tories will erect a similar Potemkin Village.

I'll tell you the truth of what's behind it when I get there.

Andrew Neil Article written by Andrew Neil Andrew Neil Daily and Sunday Politics

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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    A few words which I wish would now disappear...'Get a Grip'...the term is past its sell by date...and should now be consigned to the rubbish bin....somebody ought to 'Get a Grip' alright...I wish I had not started using the Government of National Unity...or the Transitional Alternative Government...most interesting

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I watched Ed live (I think) and then read the transcript and
    apart from "we are going to be nice to the good people
    and really stern with the bad people message " I can't
    think of any real concrete policy or proposals.
    I'm afraid I can't take Ed seriously. Think maybe an
    Ed+David kind of Jedward double act might do better ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    35 nautonier
    Yup - lots of loose ends.
    Probably the £ for a while
    The Labour party up here is choosing a new "leader" who will lead
    an "independent" Scottish labour party, supposedly seperate from London. (Just for MSPs) Poor Ed was put on the spot as he only remembered one, mispronounced another and didn't know the name of the third candidate who was actually the front-runner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    I think it should be commented on that it's pretty dodgy that conference season means three weeks of no prime minister's questions. Is the government unaccountable to parliament for the sake of 3 weeks worth of self-serving party politics which don't serve the public in any way?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Your interviews on the Daily Politics were an absolute joy. However, the most interesting aspect for me is still Blair. I await with interest the report which must be due soon from the very expensive Chilcot Inquiry. Baha Mousa confirms what many suspected, the war in Iraq was illegal, and that if there is any justice then Blair must face trial for extra-ordinary rendition, detention, and torture


Comments 5 of 45



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