Ed Miliband: next prime minister

This is a man with the clarity of vision to win.

He got his biggest cheer when he addressed his critics -- internal and external -- head on: "Red Ed -- come off it." And today Ed Miliband did defy those critics, with one of the best speeches to a Labour conference in recent history.

Yes, he paid extensive tribute to New Labour's record, to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. But boy, did he turn the page, ushering in the age of a new generation with these words: "How did a party with such a record lose five million votes between 1997 and 2010?"

His is a party that "takes on established thinking; doesn't succumb to it", and, to the visible annoyance of some, Ed Miliband disowned the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq, the fatefully relaxed approach to regulation and the erosion of civil liberties that all happened under a Labour government.

The speech was nuanced. He said no to strikes, despite the gravity of the Tory cuts to come; the union leaders did not clap. But he made it clear that Labour should always be progressive: no other candidate would have said what he said about refusing to condemn Ken Clarke as "soft on crime". And he got another huge cheer when he pointed out that "a banker can earn in a day what a carer earns in a year -- it's wrong, conference".

Some inside Labour -- as well as in the Tory-dominated media -- will doubt that Ed Miliband has what it takes to be prime minister; they will say he is too left-wing. But it is through the sheer force of his values that this man can show he can win. Today he was fully unleashed. And the likelihood is that the country will learn to love him just as the Labour movement and its affiliates did. The smart money is on Ed Miliband to be the next prime minister.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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