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."


More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Steve Mansey

    The public voted against such a thing. Democracy in practice. Unless you believe the public voted 'wrongly'?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Absolute joke a bunch of incompetent buffoons, sounds like the arsonist returns to help rebuild the house he burnt down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    BTW, his protestation that he's 'one of the people', is absolutely hilarious. His upbringing was every bit as 'elitist' as Call-me-Dave's. The only difference being that it was conducted in the bien-pensant environs of North London and not by the river in Slough.
    There are so few politicians from a 'normal' background, one can only hope that this changes at the next election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Labour are wasters, Conservatives are wasters and LibDems do not ever rate as wasters plus are just DC's fagg, UKIP are just the crooked bankers party, you know lets leave Europe so we can screw our own workers more. So now you know the establishment elites are wasters, liars and promise breakers. Are you ready to give others a chance, that way we may get some action and new thinking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Compare and contrast with the toff party, who in a time of austerity are hell bent on selling off the national assets to their corporate pals.

    Under the Tories, we are seeing stealth privatisation of the NHS and policing, and a massive waste of £32bn on an unnecessary HS2 rail link.

    Yet we are told there is "no money" left for policing, the NHS and education.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    "Good one Ed, now lets all go kick those tory A......, and rebuild our country after the mess the tories will leave it in again, just like we had to do after the thatcher years. What a mess she made of it"

    Whereas Blair and Brown did no harm whatsoever... you must have been asleep for the last decade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Nice move Herr Milliband, from Nu Labour to One Nation, sounds like a record label.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    low taxation, small Govenment, social support only for the needy its the conservative party......... right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    "Labout has hardly any seats south of the M4"

    Completelty false statement. Do the Tories have any seats in a city? Literally do they have even a single seat in a built up city.

    Let me check.

    Liverpool - No
    Manchester - No
    Leeds - No
    Newcastle - No
    Literally anyone know a single Tory seat in a built up area. Labour are certainly a one nation party when compared to the Tories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Think this is waffle, wait for the Tory boy conference.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Going by Ed's logic. The greatest burden will make the broadest shoulders. The broader the shoulder the greater the burden will be. So, stop taking the burden to prevent increasing the burden? Sounds about right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    The fact that Alistair Campbell thought this was a "Bold Speech" shows you how out of touch the Political Elite are in this country. I still do not see any difference between labour and the Tories. Not only Boring but uninspired and lacking any clear water. How about Renationalisation, Real Equality, total freedom of speech and redistribution of the wealth from the top. He is gutless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    'One Nation Society' sounds suspiciously like Tory 'Big Society' idea.
    Are we now going to see a big Intellectual Property Rights battle between them, like the Apple and Samsung fall out.
    Doesn't Ed know that copying is the sincerest form of flattery.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Pretty sure these guys own the 'One Nation' slogan, brand and everything around it:


  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    Good one Ed, now lets all go kick those tory A......, and rebuild our country after the mess the tories will leave it in again, just like we had to do after the thatcher years. What a mess she made of it

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    @23 sluiceterer

    "The average Brit deserves more [than] sending young lads off to meaningless wars to appease the upper classes."

    And who started those wars? The wicked upper class Tories? Well blow me down, no it wasn't! It was Labour. Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq... all Labour. Meant to be the working man's party - and THEY sent the boys into war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    This speech was poor. There was nothing in it to inspire people to start believing in Labour again. Ed has learnt a few presentational tricks - but still looks like a fish out of water. Until the party gets a grip and disposes of Ed and the abysmal Balls then there is no hope.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    The Tories will always be the true one nation party that understand how ordinary people live. Ed is carrying on with the same rhetoric Labour's always been giving us, hence why I still don't feel comfortable voting for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Don`t panic anyone David is a man of the people the ordinary person in the street.

    What he means is the taxpayers and electorate conned and fleeced for years by his party and ultimately ripped off and left to the equally incompetent Tories.

    God help us and I`m an Atheist!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I can l already see the Tory Trolls at work, with their nasty little comments about physical appearance and ludicrous assertions of extremism.

    This does not detract from the fact that this was a speech delivered with conviction, you don't have to agree with Him to recognise this however,I think many of the themes will resonate with the publi


Page 69 of 72


More Politics stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

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.