Ed Miliband tells Labour conference: We're the one-nation party


Ed Miliband's speech in full to the Labour Party conference

Ed Miliband has attempted to snatch the centre ground of British politics by declaring that Labour is now the "one-nation" party.

The phrase - normally associated with moderate Tories - was repeatedly used by the Labour leader as he roamed the conference stage at Manchester.

He spoke for more than an hour, without notes, in a highly personal speech that contained few new policies.

He vowed to unite the nation and lead it through tough economic times.

BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson described the speech as an "audacious" attempt to "steal a traditional Tory slogan" and "fill the space he believes has been vacated by David Cameron in the centre ground of British politics".

He said it was greeted by Labour activists in the hall with what seemed to be a sense of relief that they had chosen a leader who might yet take them to Downing Street.

During his 65-minute address to the packed hall, Mr Miliband invoked the spirit of the Olympics and World War Two as examples of what Britain can do when everyone pulls together, while criticising the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

'Change the medicine'

He got a standing ovation when he called Prime Minister David Cameron and the coalition government a "U-turning shower".

But he also went out of his way to court disillusioned Tory voters, telling them he understood why they had voted for Mr Cameron in 2010.

Start Quote

The aim of the speech was clear: to shift Labour into the middle ground of British politics, a space that Mr Miliband claims the Conservatives have vacated”

End Quote

He said Mr Cameron had let them down and he mounted a sustained attack on the coalition government's efforts to stimulate an economic recovery.

He said: "When David Cameron says to you 'Let's just carry on as we are and wait for something to turn up', don't believe him, don't believe him. If the medicine isn't working, change the medicine.

"And I tell you what else to change - change the doctor too, and that is what this country needs to do."

Mr Miliband said the country could not carry on as if it were, "as two nations, not one, the bankers and the rest of the country".

"We must have a one-nation banking system as part of a one-nation economy."

The Labour leader cited as his inspiration a former Conservative Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who made a famous speech on One Nation Conservatism in Manchester's Free Trade Hall, now a luxury hotel opposite Labour's conference venue.

'Forgotten 50%'

He said Labour would not be able to reverse all of the coalition's spending cuts if it won the next election but promised a fairer approach to cuts and policies to promote growth.


  • Conservative politician Benjamin Disraeli is the UK's only Jewish prime minister, having served twice in the office in 1868 and between 1874 and 1880
  • A best-selling novelist, he was a favourite of Queen Victoria and was ennobled as the Earl of Beaconsfield in 1879
  • In a speech at the Manchester Free Hall in 1872, he said the "wellbeing" of all citizens, including the working classes, should be improved
  • Although he did not use the phrase "one nation" in the speech, he became widely associated with it and a particular brand of conservatism adopted by future prime ministers
  • Years earlier, in his novel Sybil, he had warned of the dangers of "two nations" where rich and poor lived on "different planets"

The speech contained few new policy announcements but Mr Miliband did unveil proposals for a new qualification - the technical baccalaureate - to be taken at 18.

This would transform the lives of the "forgotten" 50% of young people in England who do not go to university, the Labour leader said.

Mr Miliband, who praised the work of the police and armed forces, also talked about growing up as the son of Jewish refugees who fled the Nazis.

"My family hasn't sat under the same oak tree for the last 500 years," he said.

"I was born at my local NHS hospital, the same hospital where my two sons were born. And I went to my local school with people from all backgrounds.

"My school taught us a lot more than just how to pass exams: it taught people how to get on with each other, whoever they are and wherever they were from."

Mr Miliband declared that the next Labour government would reform education and apprenticeships - in partnership with business - to create a more highly skilled and highly paid workforce.

The new certificate would replace the dozens of existing vocational qualifications with a single "gold standard" exam, which would also include maths and English.

Labour would also reform apprenticeships, giving control of the £1bn budget for on-the-job training to business and allowing firms more of a say in setting the standards for vocational qualifications, he said.

'Labour isn't learning'

Start Quote

The extraordinary message in Ed Miliband's speech is that Labour now amounts to nothing more than a party of one nation Toryism”

End Quote Angus Robertson SNP

Mr Miliband also stressed that being a one-nation party meant fighting to preserve the United Kingdom in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum - prompting scathing response from the Scottish National Party.

"The extraordinary message in Ed Miliband's speech is that Labour now amounts to nothing more than a party of one nation Toryism," said SNP MP Angus Robertson.

A Lib Dem spokesman said Mr Miliband had "attempted to airbrush out his and Labour's record in power".

"On taxes, youth unemployment and taking on vested interests, Liberal Democrats in the coalition government are delivering where Labour failed," he added.

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps also accused Mr Miliband of failing to learn "from the mistakes that Labour made in office".

"Instead he failed to back our welfare cap, failed to back our immigration cap and still stands for more spending, more borrowing and more debt - exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. Sadly, Labour isn't learning."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Do soundbites such as 'One Nation' actually mean anything to anyone other than politicians? It's guff like this that puts the electorate off even trying to engage with these fools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Where was the substance in the speech? Couldn't hear it through all the attention grabbing sound bites.

    He says there will be 'opportunities for all' and foreign works cannot be allowed to undercut the pay of British workers.

    Mr Miliband, pray how are you possibly going to enfore either of these ridiculous statements?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    labour started to look like they had something to offer
    but they had to go and spoil it by letting milliband and balls waffle on too much
    it looks like U KIP will gain a lot of votes come the next election and they may hold enough seats to be able to offer a proposition to one of the main party's to form a coalition government,,lets hope so
    we don't want labour in power again
    they ruin everything

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    So Labour is the new One Nation Conservative party? Can we now compare Ed with Disraeli?
    Will we see low taxation for all, small government, social support for only the poorest in our society?
    Or is this just a One Notion Party??

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    COME ON ENGALAAAAAAND!!! vindaloooooooo, vindaloooooo. labour to beat con onda nxt election and clegg can just f**$$@ offfffff, trying to suck his way back after his fail promises.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Brilliant speech: One nation, one people, one party, one leader. Ed is now the established Prime Minister in waiting. Move over for the new order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Oh what a shame. Disjointed, hesitant, unsure, no policies and repetitive. Just a name calling rant against the Tories. By assuming he was the one to unite the country by constantly using the patriotism card, he was appealing to the lowest common denominator.
    Someone should tell him that using patriotism as an arguement is the last refuge of a scoundrel

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    The Labour party is the only hope for the UK. Luckily I live abroad & see the dreadful time most of the people have been having, glossed over by the olympic games & the Jubilee. The average Brit deserves more substance & reward for all their endurance at paying back the bankers debts & sending young lads off tomeaningless wars to appease the upper classes. Only Ed & Labour party can rescue the UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    How can this party be trusted ever again when their policies are based on deception?

    Tessa Jowell won the olympic bid with £2.4bn budget, which went up 4 times (see reputable source here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6453575.stm)

    This means that for every 4 things that Labour Party promises only one will get delivered, right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Good speech which will no doubt have the Tories a little more concerned than they already are (for themselves, obviously, not the country).

    However, still lacking in firm policy ideas and still hard to forget he's only there because of the often selfish unions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Red, Blue, Yellow or Green.. They’re all the same. Meaningless sound bites and point scoring is a Rich Man’s sport.

    Career politicians should not be trusted to run a Lemonade Stand, let alone a country.

    The system is broken. Why can’t we just have a 6 month stint of Governance akin to Jury service?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Impressive speech, Ed has shown himself to be the honest and straightforward alternative to Cameron's slimy spiv. It'll be interesting to read the the comments from the Tory Central Office trolls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Agreed, gashead. We tend to have very short collective memories, but in this instance, one would hope that the memory would be kept alive by virtue of the simple fact that we'll be paying for Labour's profligacy for generations to come.(not a great thing to have to remember, but a powerful one)

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    For as long as Moribund n Balls head the Labour Party, they remain totally unelectable and the Tories will try their best to keep them both at the helm to ensure victory in 2015.

    However, I believe that there are enough people of influence within Labour to force a leadership change, which will sweep out these jokers, who are so deeply associated with the last Government's failure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    nice speech (in parts), well presented - but like all politicians they fail to see the double standards; Milliband mentioned Cameron benefitting from top rate of tax reduction - his wife earns close to £200k p.a

    Whilst we are in uncertain times, my vote will be for the least incompetant leader - I just can't bring myself to vote for him (miliband)

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Wow another catchy slogan with absolutely no substance behind it being used to befuddle the moronic masses. No matter which party you are in the whole political system is broken. None of these politicians actually work for the people they claim to represent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    if you look carefully im sure I saw strings attached to him. what a muppet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    So, Miliband promises to be tough on spending, just as Blair did, as Brown did - and then hemorrhaged money. Govt income was at a record high and they STILL ran up a record deficit.

    Little Ed's idea to stop this? Claim to be a 1 nation party, even though Labout has hardly any seats south of the M4. That's not policy, that's waffle. It means nothing. The man's a pygmy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    No one nation if Labour wages war on the wealthy and the bosses and demonises companies who provide employment for many.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.


    Well who else then ? carry on with this bunch of @~:L: .. ! ?


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