Labour conference lookahead | Monday 26 September

The who, when and where of the Labour conference.

Look out for

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, will address conference soon after midday. He will tell delegates that the party must work to restore economic credibility in the way that it did before Tony Blair was elected. To this end, he will pledge to set out strict fiscal rules for a future Labour government in the party's election manifesto. He will also promise to spend any windfall from the sale of bank shares on paying off the national debt, rather than on boosting public spending.

Balls will stress that spending cuts are here to stay. "We still know today what we recognised in 1994," he will say. "We will never have credibility unless we have the discipline and the strength to take tough decisions." In an interview with the Independent ahead of the speech, he said no-one in the shadow cabinet would make any promises at this stage to undo any government cuts.

He will, however, reiterate that rising unemployment and stalled economic growth prove that Labour was right to advocate a slower pace of deficit reduction. As the coalition continues to blame Labour's mismanagement for the current crisis, Balls will stress the role of the global crisis, warning in stark terms: "The country and the whole world is facing the threat of a lost decade of economic stagnation."

Last year, Balls was accused of being overly negative when he implied that George Osborne's economic policies would cause Britain to slip into a double-dip recession. Now, that warning looks prescient.

Signs of trouble?

Labour is in the midst of a two year policy review, so policy promises are unlikely to be on ground. Three and a half years ahead of the election, Labour has the problem that it cannot set out a full alternative plan -- but without this detail, will struggle to regain credibility. It can get around this by saying what it would do if in government now, something which Ed Miliband did at the weekend with his tuition fee proposals.

The results of yesterday's Refounding Labour vote wil be revealed. It is an extensive reform of the way internal leadership elections work.

On the fringe

Does Labour have an enterprise plan? Chuka Umunna, shadow minister for small business and enterprise, takes part in a panel discussion chaired by the New Statesman's political correspondent, Rafael Behr, from 5pm. More details.

Conference timetable

Morning - 9.30am: Conference opens

Welsh Report from Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales

Report from Glenis Willmott MEP, leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party

Panel discussion of "Britain in the World", with Harriet Harman, shadow secretary of state for international development, Jim Murphy, shadow secretary of state for defence, and Douglas Alexander, shadow foreign secretary

"Prosperity and Work" - speech by Ed Balls MP, shadow chancellor of the exchequer

12.45pm: Break

Afternoon - 2.15pm: Conference reconvenes

Speech by John Denham, shadow secretary for business, innovation and skills: "Working Britain Today"

Speech by Maria Eagle, shadow secretary of state for transport

Speech by Liam Byrne, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions

Scottish Report from Ann McKechin, shadow secretary of state for Scotland, and Iain Gray MSP, leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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What do Labour's lost voters make of the Labour leadership candidates?

What does Newsnight's focus group make of the Labour leadership candidates?

Tonight on Newsnight, an IpsosMori focus group of former Labour voters talks about the four Labour leadership candidates. What did they make of the four candidates?

On Andy Burnham:

“He’s the old guard, with Yvette Cooper”

“It’s the same message they were trying to portray right up to the election”​

“I thought that he acknowledged the fact that they didn’t say sorry during the time of the election, and how can you expect people to vote for you when you’re not actually acknowledging that you were part of the problem”​

“Strongish leader, and at least he’s acknowledging and saying let’s move on from here as opposed to wishy washy”

“I was surprised how long he’d been in politics if he was talking about Tony Blair years – he doesn’t look old enough”

On Jeremy Corbyn:

"“He’s the older guy with the grey hair who’s got all the policies straight out of the sixties and is a bit of a hippy as well is what he comes across as” 

“I agree with most of what he said, I must admit, but I don’t think as a country we can afford his principles”

“He was just going to be the opposite of Conservatives, but there might be policies on the Conservative side that, y’know, might be good policies”

“I’ve heard in the paper he’s the favourite to win the Labour leadership. Well, if that was him, then I won’t be voting for Labour, put it that way”

“I think he’s a very good politician but he’s unelectable as a Prime Minister”

On Yvette Cooper

“She sounds quite positive doesn’t she – for families and their everyday issues”

“Bedroom tax, working tax credits, mainly mum things as well”

“We had Margaret Thatcher obviously years ago, and then I’ve always thought about it being a man, I wanted a man, thinking they were stronger…  she was very strong and decisive as well”

“She was very clear – more so than the other guy [Burnham]”

“I think she’s trying to play down her economics background to sort of distance herself from her husband… I think she’s dumbing herself down”

On Liz Kendall

“None of it came from the heart”

“She just sounds like someone’s told her to say something, it’s not coming from the heart, she needs passion”

“Rather than saying what she’s going to do, she’s attacking”

“She reminded me of a headteacher when she was standing there, and she was quite boring. She just didn’t seem to have any sort of personality, and you can’t imagine her being a leader of a party”

“With Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham there’s a lot of rhetoric but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of direction behind what they’re saying. There seems to be a lot of words but no action.”

And, finally, a piece of advice for all four candidates, should they win the leadership election:

“Get down on your hands and knees and start praying”

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.