Ed Balls's Labour conference speech - live blog

Minute-by-minute coverage of the shadow chancellor's speech to the Labour conference.

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12:39 In contrast to Vince Cable, who spoke of "grey skies" in his conference speech, Balls ends on an optimistic note. Labour must show that there is "reason to hope" and a "better way", he concludes.

12:38 Britain might be a "safe haven" for Cameron, Osborne, Boris Johnson and their friends, says Balls. But Tory Britain is not a "safe haven" for the 16,000 companies that have gone bust in the last year.

12:36 He promises to examine proposals for a National Investment Bank for small businesses.

12:34 He adds that Labour will commit to use any windfall from the sale of the state-owned bank shares for deficit reduction, not tax cuts. Balls promises"fiscal responsibility in the national interest".

12:33 Here's the much-previewed passage on Balls's new "fiscal rules".

Before the election he promises that he will spell out "tough fiscal rules" that a future Labour government would have to follow. They would be independently monitored by the OBR.

12:29 Balls is announcing his five-point plan for growth:

1. Repeat the bank bonus tax and use the money to build 20,000 affordable homes.

2. Bring forward long-term investment in schools, transport, and roads.

3. An immediate one year reduction in VAT on home improvements to 5 per cent.

4. Reverse January's VAT rise for a temporary period to stimulate growth.

5. A one-year National Insurance holiday for every small firm that takes on extra workers.

"Call it Plan A, call it Plan B, call it Plan C, I don't care what they call it. Britain needs a plan that works," he cries.

12:25 But he refuses to accept that Labour was "profligate" during its time in office. We went into the crisis with a lower debt-to-GDP ratio than in 1997, he reminds the hall.

12:24 Sounding a note of contrition, Balls admits that Labour made "mistakes", namely the 75p pension rise, the abolition of the 10p tax rate, loose controls on eastern european migration, and light regulation of the banks.

12:23 Balls cites the IMF's warning that Osborne may need to slow the pace of his cuts if growth continues to disappoint. He repeats one of Labour's favourite attack lines: "Osborne's plan is hurting but it's not working".

12:21 He attacks Osborne's deficit reduction programme as self-defeating "if you choke off the recovery then borrowing doesn't go down, it goes up," he warns. The government cannot afford to tolerate rising unemployment.

12:19 Balls attacks Osborne and Cameron for praising austerity across the world and "urging even deeper cuts". They are ignoring the lessons of history, he says. It is not just a failure of leadership but an "abdication of responsibility too", he warns.

12:17 This is not a "crisis of public debt" but a "global growth crisis", argues Balls. We must learn the lesson of the 1930s, he says. Piling austerity on austerity does not work.

12:16 These are "the darkest, most dangerous" economic times in my lifetime, says Balls. Britain is facing the threat of something most of us have only read about in the history books: a decade of stagnation.

12:14 He pays tribute to "our leader and my friend, Ed Miliband", praising Miliband's response to the phone hacking scandal and his calm, resolute leadership.

12:13 Balls takes to the stage. He begins by saying how pleased he is to deliver his first conference speech as shadow chancellor.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The problems with ending encryption to fight terrorism

Forcing tech firms to create a "backdoor" to access messages would be a gift to cyber-hackers.

The UK has endured its worst terrorist atrocity since 7 July 2005 and the threat level has been raised to "critical" for the first time in a decade. Though election campaigning has been suspended, the debate over potential new powers has already begun.

Today's Sun reports that the Conservatives will seek to force technology companies to hand over encrypted messages to the police and security services. The new Technical Capability Notices were proposed by Amber Rudd following the Westminster terrorist attack and a month-long consultation closed last week. A Tory minister told the Sun: "We will do this as soon as we can after the election, as long as we get back in. The level of threat clearly proves there is no more time to waste now. The social media companies have been laughing in our faces for too long."

Put that way, the plan sounds reasonable (orders would be approved by the home secretary and a senior judge). But there are irrefutable problems. Encryption means tech firms such as WhatsApp and Apple can't simply "hand over" suspect messages - they can't access them at all. The technology is designed precisely so that conversations are genuinely private (unless a suspect's device is obtained or hacked into). Were companies to create an encryption "backdoor", as the government proposes, they would also create new opportunities for criminals and cyberhackers (as in the case of the recent NHS attack).

Ian Levy, the technical director of the National Cyber Security, told the New Statesman's Will Dunn earlier this year: "Nobody in this organisation or our parent organisation will ever ask for a 'back door' in a large-scale encryption system, because it's dumb."

But there is a more profound problem: once created, a technology cannot be uninvented. Should large tech firms end encryption, terrorists will merely turn to other, lesser-known platforms. The only means of barring UK citizens from using the service would be a Chinese-style "great firewall", cutting Britain off from the rest of the internet. In 2015, before entering the cabinet, Brexit Secretary David Davis warned of ending encryption: "Such a move would have had devastating consequences for all financial transactions and online commerce, not to mention the security of all personal data. Its consequences for the City do not bear thinking about."

Labour's manifesto pledged to "provide our security agencies with the resources and the powers they need to protect our country and keep us all safe." But added: "We will also ensure that such powers do not weaken our individual rights or civil liberties". The Liberal Democrats have vowed to "oppose Conservative attempts to undermine encryption."

But with a large Conservative majority inevitable, according to polls, ministers will be confident of winning parliamentary support for the plan. Only a rebellion led by Davis-esque liberals is likely to stop them.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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