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A break from the past

Nick Robinson | 14:22 UK time, Tuesday, 28 September 2010

So the new leader of the party formerly known as New Labour is to condemn the Iraq war.

Ed Miliband


His planned speech declares that it was "wrong" to invade and, as Labour leader, he had to be honest with the nation and say so. "Wrong because that war was not a last resort, because we did not have sufficient alliances and because we undermined the UN."

This is no huge surprise. Ed Miliband has consistently said at hustings that if he had have been an MP in 2003 he would not have voted in favour of the war. In a letter to Lib Dem voters, he said "I believe the argument is being conclusively won that we must recognise the profound mistake of the Iraq war."

However, it is significant that it is being said from Labour's conference stage by their leader and is something David would not have said.


  • Comment number 1.

    What a load of tosh and waffle. A careworker would not wish to be a banker and vice versa. How can you say they should both get the same money hmmmm. Could a care worker get their heads around the banking business or even want to?

    Old Ed is an old fogey immigrant with ideas in the clouds.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am frankly amazed about the amount of time Nick and the BBC is giving to Ed Milliband's selection as leader.Did we have so much coverage when Cameron was chosen?

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear lord, talk about turgid.

    Is it possible for this mouth-breathing party to think in, or digest anything that isnt an anecdote?

  • Comment number 4.

    What a dismal, dismal effort. Has he been watching the more left wing episodes of "The West Wing" and trying to pick up some tips? Ed Milliband's speech was like a bad re-heat of a "Nu Labour" inspired rant, which was vacuous in the extreme. There was no substance, no policy, self-congratulation where, really Ed, none at all is due; and no apology for the Labour fiasco on the economy and the cataclysmic and reckless public spending.

    Not even at the IDS standard, and a stark contrast to his brother's efforts. Oh dear, oh dear, what a mistake the Labour Party has made....

  • Comment number 5.

    Did he forget to mention his brother's complicity in extraordinary rendition?

    I think we should be told.

    Nice one in the eye for the unions though but.

    He gets my vote (although not in an election)

    And he still has that deficit attention disorder...

  • Comment number 6.

    .....and hearty congratulations to the BBC cameraman who focused on the trade union leaders as Ed Milliband told the unions not to engage in counter productive strike activity: and the union leader clearly mouthed the word "rubbish": priceless, real life imitating art.

  • Comment number 7.

    I think Labour now have a leader who appeals more to Lib Dem voters then their own leader - could make for an interesting realignment.

  • Comment number 8.

    Pretty obvious and uninspiring stuff. Labour - new or old- is really in trouble if Ed was the best of the five candidates (and if these were really the best five candidates, then it really is all over for them.)

  • Comment number 9.

    Sorry - don't believe him.

    If he had been an MP at that time he would have voted whatever way he thought would ingratiate him with the people in power to gain his next step up the ladder - and voted for the war just like the rest.

    (There you are Fubar - just because I hate the tories doesn't make me an uncritical labour lacky.)

  • Comment number 10.

    But actually whether Labour acknowledge that the Iraq war was a mistake or not is now completely irrelevant because everyone else made up their mind on that question a long time ago.

    No - What they need to apologise for and acknowledge they got very very wrong was their management of the economy. What's worrying is that Ed has already made his first huge spending commitment. A living wage? He must be barmy. We can't afford it.

  • Comment number 11.

    Ed Milliband is so clearly not red! He is a centre left politician with new ideas - he is a bit to the left of Blair, but there was not much room to the right.

    If he makes a half-decent fist of shaking of the union tag and opposing the coaltion, he will stand a good chance!

  • Comment number 12.


    What, a vacuous posh wonk who six years ago:

    a) Wasn't even an MP, let alone in Government and hasn't done a days real work in his life, prior to being parachuted into a safe seat.

    b) Spent most of his time as a bag carrier for a discredited minister

    c) Is from a metropolitan elite, remote as remote can be from "ordinary working voters"

    d) Is probably not going to get to be held accountable for his policy decisions as he'll never win an outright majority as a prospective PM?

    Yeah. Thats giving the voters real choice, isnt it? All three of the main parties, fronted by professional politicians. Great!

    I'm sure Red Ed, if he makes the right happy clappy tree hugging noises, will be lapped up by the weirdy beardies in the LibDumbs, who now they've got everything they'd spent the last 80 years wishing for are beginning to think they should take over the coalition, despite being its junior partner.

    A match made in heaven, no less.

    All he's gotta do now is give the chancellor's job to Diane Abbott and bingo. Eighteen years in obscurity beckons and the high point of his job next year will be straightening the chairs in the conference hall.

    Nostalgically.... maybe he wont make Gordon The Golum look so bad after all. I'm almost missing his weekly tractor production statistics already.

    Almost. But not quite.

    Looking forward to the first PMQ's he has to face though. Need to get some popcorn in. He'll get eaten alive, if that speech was anything to go by. Good entertainment, ritual humiliation....

  • Comment number 13.

    @2 - yes the BBC gave far more coverage to Cameron which was strange as it was pretty much a one-horse race.

    Ed M is interesting because he's basically tacked left to win the leadership and now he's tacking right. And basically no-one will notice because for the next two years people are simply going to be sick of the Tories so even Dianne Abbott would enjoy a double-digit lead in the polls. The real question is whether he can give the impression that Labour have changed and are a party ready for government in time for the next election. That will take shrewd opposition and avoiding getting painted as a communist (the latter should be easy, the former is much more diffiuclt.

  • Comment number 14.

    The Times today reports the departure of another FTSE 100 company who have moved their headquarters overseas.

    Ed talks of raising taxes even more.

    Well done Ed, that would do a lot to entice such companies back.

  • Comment number 15.

    A new generation and a break from the past.

    Well so far I have not seen a new generation just the same old faces we all wanted rid of.

    Jockeying for position to retain their old jobs and no fresh new faces to spoil their party.

    Cut and paste speech Kevin Maguire said. A bit from Cameron and a bit from Clegg with a smacked hand for the unions just to please the masses.

    I am certainly not convinced he even knows a way ahead so I suspect the Labour party is in limbo until they see what the coalition are going to do and how it pans out.

    At the moment Labour are well behind the curve.

  • Comment number 16.

    I am not really sure who this speech of Ed Milibands is supposed to appeal to. Rather than being new generation, I would classify it as same old rhetoric, which we have all heard before. Trying to appeal to everyone often leads to convincing no one, this speech had this feel. I confess I did get bored halfway through, Ed Milibank is not exactly easy on the eye to watch, nor very inspiring. At times I felt he was disingenuous, for instance over Iraq. I do not recall him saying he disagreed with the war before he was a candidate for leader. Did he also tell Brown that he thought he had left the financial system unregulated. In fact the financial sector was regulated, there was plenty of regulation, just not very good regulation.

    He talked about the Global economy, yet he does not understand it. The Global economy presents a very competitive market place for Britian. It would not be possible to introduce his living wage, it is going to be hard enough to keep the minimum wage. It was in fact his own Governments immigration policy which helped to force wages down.

    The whole speech sounded very hollow, talking about the difficulties of families in this current economic crisis, when it was the Government he was a member of, that brought about this situation. Some proper acknowledgement of this would have been much better.

    Labour chose the wrong leader of those who stood. However, a proper fresh face not tainted by being at the heart of the Brown Labour Government would have much better than the candidates who stood.

    Ed Miliband has no effect on me at all when he speaks, I find it rather bland rhetoric. At least, even if you do not believe a word that Blair ever utters, he holds your attention. Ed Miliband came out of this for me much worse than I expected, in both policy and credibility. Perhaps he would have been better to have remained red Ed, at least this may have inspired some interest. As it is, there is really no challenge to the Coalition presented by this new leader.

  • Comment number 17.

    What an abysmal performance, not funny or sad. Not inspiring or ground breaking. Just sort of dull. Nu Old Labour are in for a very uneventful winter. Those long cabinet meetings will be a blast. The only good thing that came out of it is his apparent move away from the unions or is that just a little bit of stage management.

    What David must be thinking, I was beaten by that!

  • Comment number 18.

    The Labour Conference thing has been shown on a huge plasma display at the end of the office.

    Mercifully the sound is turned off so, if you're interested you just have the body language to go on.

    So, when I occasionally glanced up, there was Ed Miliband with the color-coded deep purple backdrop, next time I looked up, he was being glad-handed on the way out.

    Next Eddie Gizzard and Neil Kinnock were doing some sort of comedy act - zzzzz.

    At last, some glamour as the foxy Caroline Flint appeared but oh oh, who is this ruining the view, that awful women from Salford who fiddled her expenses big-time.

    Now its some grey suited talking heads - back to work.

  • Comment number 19.

    I am glad Ed Miliband is taking this stand.

    Here's a phrase for you, Nick: this is not a return to Old Labour or continuation of New Labour. Welcome to the rise(?) of Neu Labour...

    [Note: read about UK politics and more at the Brooks Blog (

  • Comment number 20.

    Wee-Scamp @ 10

    "What's worrying is that Ed has already made his first huge spending commitment. A living wage? He must be barmy. We can't afford it."


    Who do you think pays the benefits for those on a low wage ?

  • Comment number 21.

    2 Riodog

    Probably not, but then no one was really interested in what DC had to say. Can anyone really remember what DC said when addressing the Tory Conference following his election as leader or indeed since? No? Thought not!

  • Comment number 22.

    Ed made a good start at clearing away the rubble left behind by New Labour and set out some very good principles which he intends to apply as he rebuilds the Labour Party.

    There are still a few substantial pieces of rubble left, like the UK's involvement in the Afghan war, but David Cameron has promised to deal with that before the next election, so Ed does not need to be too explicit. Members of the New Labour old guard have some exposed nerves, so he cannot move too quickly.

    He did not say how he intends to deal with right wing bias of much of the media, although he did do a rather good put down of the "red Ed" jibe. It was New Labour's attempts to appease the Red Top press that caused many of its mistakes.

  • Comment number 23.

    Wee scamp 10

    'A living wage? He must be barmy. We can't afford it.'

    Minimum wage ? how can you live off £5 an hour we need a living wage.

    Living wage ? where's the dignity in earning £7 an hour we need a dignity wage.

    Dignity ? But where's the fairness, we need a fairness wage.

    Fairness ? People would rather be rich. We need a wealth wage.

    Cut to the chase, pay everyone at least £100 an hour and you've cured poverty and inequality at a stroke.

  • Comment number 24.

    1. At 3:22pm on 28 Sep 2010, Flame wrote:
    "Old Ed is an old fogey immigrant with ideas in the clouds."

    An immigrant? He was born in London. Old fogey? He's 40.

    Bit of a racist are we Flame? And how old are you to think 40 is old?

  • Comment number 25.

    14 Andy

    Sounds like another Company that has no faith in GO as Chancellor.

    The Company have looked ahead and decided that they don't want to be in a country facing a double dip recession. Best to get out now and return in five years time once the new chancellor, Ed Balls is in situ.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hilarious, talk about "Methinks they protest too much"

    Lets be honest it was typical conference "fodder" just like Cameron's speech will be typical conference fodder, preaching to the converted.

    Party conferences are no basis to judge any party politcal leader or his likely success or failure. Duncan Smith was cheered to the rafters and knifed in the back by the smiling assassinf a fortnight later.

    I make this offer.

    Lets judge Labour/Millibamd and Cameron/Tories by their deeds, policies and results not their words at their conference speeches. As for Clegg...who cares, he's irrelevent other than to prop up Cameron.

    Deal anyone?

  • Comment number 27.

    There, you see - I was right, wasn't I?

    Goodbye "Red Ed". Hello probable next PM.

    As regards Iraq, well it had to be done. Not the War (which didn't), but this unequivocal statement of wrongness.

    The way is now clear. He can still mess up, of course - he might - but the way is clear.

    High on his "to do" list will be building a rapport with Livingstone; important, this, when it comes to London matters from 2012 onwards. There's the Olympics, don't forget.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wind the clock back to David Cameron's first party speech - hardly set the heart racing.

    If they are to win the next General Election, Labour have to spend the next three years being a really good opposition. They have to show that they understand people's concerns and can represent them effectively. A few LibDem defections would help in 2012/3. Then in the 18 month run up to the next election, they should know what the battle ground will be and show that they could be a cedible government. Racing out of the blocks saying, "I'm your next PM," is hardly a way to appear to be credible. He needs the Unions to be troublesome and nutty so he can have a real go at them. He isn't going to get any major victories over the coalition in the next four years. But standing up to the Unions will be a good way of showing his steel and detirmination. Of course he might not be up to it. Today he did not want to appear too triumphal or raise expectations too high. Slightly low key was just about right.

    One point is that I think he said he would support AV. The referendum should be just about the time the effects of the cuts are becoming apparent. If Labour campaign with the LibDems, the public might just see it as an opportunity to give David Cameron a bloody nose.

    PS I decided to listen to the speech and then form my opinion. Others as usual seem to have formed their opinions before listening, but then we are used to their 'considered opinions' - whether in the media or on this blog.

  • Comment number 29.

  • Comment number 30.

    At 4:27pm on 28 Sep 2010, AndyC555 wrote:
    The Times today reports the departure of another FTSE 100 company who have moved their headquarters overseas.
    Another vote of no confidence in the future under the Coalition Government. Even after their plan to lower corporation tax and to cancel the increase in Employers NI contributions. How ungrateful! Clearly they don't plan to be 'all in it together'.

  • Comment number 31.

    Really hope Ed milliband doesn't read these messages! Only one post is vaguely (and I do mean vaguely) supportive. His speech has really gone down like lead balloon. The guy has been, quite rightly, massacred by the masses here.

  • Comment number 32.

    re #2
    No, it was worse. And they went on endlessly to get ID-S shifted but they didn't like Michael Howard, so they shut up pretty quickly after his election.

    The Humph did an incredible interview with Dave on the day after he was elected. He went round and round on the tax cuts question until he disappeared up his own parody. I wonder if he'll be interviewing Milliband Minor tomorrow? I can guess what the question will be ...

  • Comment number 33.


    Now you're really living up to your name... :o)

  • Comment number 34.

    RYGB @ 24

    He is from immigrant stock, though. Which is reason enough for Flame to dislike him. Son of a Jewish asylum seeker, he is - same as former Tory leader Michael Howard (né Michael Hecht). Same as me (né pdavitz65).

  • Comment number 35.

    Give him his dues though, despite being a commie, at least when he got to the UK he joined up and served in the Navy for at least 2 years during the war.

    More than what Straw's conchie old man did.

  • Comment number 36.

    The speech was fairly dull and predictable but ... Ed Milliband's impersonation of Buzz Lightyear (the Disney 'Toy Story' character) was absolutely brilliant!

    It's all in the the eyebrows ...!

  • Comment number 37.

    33 FS

    Oh God, yes, you're right, just read what I had written. Missed out an important word "Mrs". Better?

  • Comment number 38.

    I didn't watch.... you can bet he said he loves his country, he's making a fresh start and that he will learn from the past mistakes.

    A fresh face from Oxford been in Government since 2005 (I stand to be corrected), he's gonna sort the banking out, sort the NHS out not to mention farming and agriculture.... as we say in the North "A reet owd novice". We want someone with experience, even Cammy and Cleggy doesn't fit the bill here.

    Isn't there ANYBODY in politics with experience, all they are capable of doing is causing further mayhem with political point scoring, I mean just what exactly does go on a persons CV to be Chancellor or PM?

  • Comment number 39.

    Labour's belated admission that the millions of voters who were against the Iraq war and mass immigration were right after all, will be of no comfort to the relatives of UK service men and women or the hundreds of thousands of Iraq civilians now dead.

    Labour have certainly changed this country for ever, both economically and socially.

    Thank you New Labour, we are grateful.

  • Comment number 40.

    Journalists are in shock that Ed Milliband has disowned the Iraq war.

    Very few people outside the cabinet in 2003 were supporters of the war. Thousands left the Labour Party as a result of the war and a million people demonstrated against it.

    D Milliband was in the minority and in denial about the feelings people had - maybe that's why he isnt the leader tonight.


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