Miliband, Clegg and Cameron: Three leaders and their speeches compared

The three main Westminster party leaders have given their keynote conference speeches, with each unveiling some new policy pledges. So what have we learned from the conferences and what does it tell us about the election campaign that lies ahead?

Leaders composite, L-R: Miliband, Clegg, Cameron
Speech duration in words and minutes: Miliband 7948 words, 60 mins, Clegg 5921 words, 50 mins, Cameron 5949 words, 50 mins

You can watch the speeches in full here:

The leaders' messages: Miliband "Britain can do better than this", Clegg "Stronger economy and fairer society, Cameron "Lnad of opportunity for all"

Those were the soundbites. But, as BBC website politics editor Alex Hunt says, there was plenty in the speeches to show how the parties plan to approach the 2015 election:

"For Labour's Ed Miliband, the promise of an energy bills price freeze was the big announcement of the conference season and set up the dividing lines for the next election. Labour will be portraying itself as on the side of 'ordinary people' against big business and entrenched interests. Expect the party to try to make the 'cost of living' a key issue in 2015.

"Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg made an unambiguous pitch for voters to put the Lib Dems back in coalition government after the next election. There weren't many concrete policy pledges - the message was that as junior partners to Labour, they could stop the economy being messed up, and as junior partners to the Conservatives, they could force them to govern in a 'fairer' way.

"David Cameron's positive message was that a majority Conservative government's reforms to education, welfare and the public finances would make the UK a place where everyone can 'make it'. That looks set to be coupled at the election with the message that Ed Miliband is anti-business and offering '1970s-style socialism'." There is more analysis in James Landale's blog.

Three policy pledges in text with icons: Miliband Freeze fuel bills for two years, Clegg Free school meals for infants, Cameron Everyone under 25 working or earning

For Labour, Ed Miliband promised a two year freeze on the price of domestic fuel, if he were elected. He also wants to see the voting age reduced and he pledged that, under Labour, 200,000 new homes would be built a year by 2020 to create a fresh generation of new towns and garden cities.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg revealed plans to introduce free school meals for primary school children in reception, year one and year two from next September. Delegates also endorsed the leadership's plans for a so-called mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m and a further increase in the income tax threshold to exclude anyone on the minimum wage from paying tax.

For the Conservatives, David Cameron revealed plans for further welfare reforms after the next election - including a pledge to get everyone under 25 "earning or learning". Conference also heard plans for a new scheme to make long-term unemployed undertake work placements or compulsory training in return for benefits.

Frequent words - five for each leader: Miliband People, 70, work/working 38, better 32, win 25, health 17; Clegg people 26, family/families 16, coalition 11, children 13, values 12, Cameron people 60, opportunity 15, job/jobs 45, economy 19, children 25

After "government" and "Britain", one of the most frequently-used words in all three of the leaders' speeches was "people". The graphic above highlights some of the other most-repeated words.

Graphic showing number of tweets during the party speeches: Miliband 20,200, Clegg 9,300, Cameron 23,000

More than 70% of UK MPs are now on Twitter, up from 56% in 2012. During the conferences, there were more than 1.1 million mentions on Twitter, with the prime minister generating 175,000 mentions during the Tory conference, Ed Miliband got 67,000 during Labour's conference and there were 63,000 mentions of Nick Clegg during the Lib Dems' conference. The party leaders' speeches also generated thousands of mentions, as shown in the graphic above.

subheading: the wives

The party conference is one political event always attended by the leaders' wives and this year was no exception. Ed Miliband's wife Justine rallied the party faithful proclaiming she would be "more than a dress" in the battle for Number 10. Nick Clegg's wife, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and David Cameron's wife, Samantha, chose not to speak but still appeared for the traditional end-of-speech photo call.

Composite of leaders and their wives, L-R, Justine Miliband, Miriam González Durántez , Samantha Cameron

Read about UKIP leader Nigel Farage's party conference speech here

Read about Green leader Natalie Bennett's conference speech here.

Produced by Alison Trowsdale

More Politics stories



  • Prince Harry, Duke and Duchess of CambridgeIn pictures

    Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry enjoy Games

  • Gin drinkerMother's ruin

    The time when a single drink of gin could kill

  • SyedTanks not toys

    Lyse Doucet on the plight of children in Syria and Gaza

  • Storm at sea, near site of Costa Concordia sinkingSudden strike

    What happens when lightning hits the sea?

BBC © 2014 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.