Chuka Umunna's speech this year was 40 per cent shorter than last year. Photo: Getty.
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Were three of Labour's shadow ministers made to restrict their speeches?

Three of Labour's most prominent shadow ministers – Chuka Umunna, Tristram Hunt and Douglas Alexander – have given the conference's shortest speeches. 

For more on the party conferences and the next election, explore our new elections site May2015.com.

Ed Balls' marathon speech has dominated discussion at Labour Party conference today, but three other speeches have also been conspicuous for their length.

Three of Labour’s most prominent shadow ministers – Douglas Alexander, Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt, Labour’s shadow foreign, business and education secretaries – have given the conference’s shortest speeches.

All three of them spoke for around 850 words or less. The 13 other speeches delivered so far have all been longer, and ten have been at least 1,000 words. Excluding Balls’, they have been, on average, 1,200 words – why were the speeches by three of Labour’s most prominent shadow ministers 30 per cent shorter?

We hear that at least one of the shadow ministers was handed a word count. Were planned announcements held back for Balls’ and Miliband’s speech? If they were given to the former they didn’t amount to the gifts many journalists expected from the shadow chancellor’s address this morning.

Either way, Chuka Umunna’s speech was nearly 40 per cent shorter than the one he delivered at conference a year ago. The CEO of Airbus UK, whose speech preceded Umunna’s, spoke for longer than the shadow business secretary whom he was effectively introducing. And Hunt’s was 30 per cent as long as the one Stephen Twigg, his predecessor at education, gave last year.

As for Alexander, the speech by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary was scarcely longer last year. The role may be one of the most important in government, but it is clearly subordinate to domestic politics at conference.

In the wake of the Scottish referendum, the two longest speeches after Balls’ have been by Hilary Benn and Margaret Curran. As shadow secretary for local government the former has been given new profile by the post-referendum push for devolution, while the latter is shadow secretary for Scotland.

Benn spoke for more than twice as long as Umunna, Alexander and Hunt. Devolution is the topic du jour, but did the Labour Party’s approach to business, education and international relations need to be curtailed to the length of a comment piece?

Harry Lambert was the editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

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Casting the Brexit movie that is definitely real and will totally happen

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our screens, or just Farage's vivid imagination.

Hollywood is planning to take on the farcical antics of Nigel Farage et al during the UK referendum, according to rumours (some suspect planted by a starstruck Brexiteer). 

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our big or small screens, a DVD, or just Farage's vivid imagination, but either way here are our picks for casting the Hollywood adaptation.

Nigel Farage: Jim Carrey

The 2018 return of Alan Partridge as "the voice of hard Brexit" makes Steve Coogan the obvious choice. Yet Carrey's portrayal of the laughable yet pure evil Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events makes him a serious contender for this role. 

Boris Johnson: Gerard Depardieu

Stick a blonde wig on him and the French acting royalty is almost the spitting image of our own European aristocrat. He has also evidently already mastered the look of pure shock necessary for the final scene of the movie - in which the Leave campaign is victorious.

Arron Banks: Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais not only resembles Ukip donor Arron Banks, but has a signature shifty face perfect for the scene where the other Brexiteers ask him what is the actual plan. 

Gerry Gunster: Anthony Lapaglia

The Bad Boys of Brexit will reportedly be told from the perspective of the US strategist turned Brexit referendum expert Gerry Gunster. Thanks to recurring roles in both the comedy stalwart Frasier, and the US crime drama Without a Trace, Anthony Lapaglia is versatile enough to do funny as well as serious, a perfect mix for a story that lurches from tragedy to farce. Also, they have the same cunning eyes.

Douglas Carswell: Mark Gatiss

The resemblance is uncanny.

David Cameron: Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott is widely known for his portrayal of Moriarty in Sherlock, where he indulges in elaborate, but nationally destructive strategy games. The actor also excels in a look of misplaced confidence that David Cameron wore all the way up to the referendum. Not to mention, his forehead is just as shiny. He'll have to drink a lot of Bollinger to gain that Cameron-esque puppy fat though. 

Kate Hoey: Judi Dench

Although this casting would ruin the image of the much beloved national treasure that is Judi Dench, if anyone can pull off being the face of Labour Leave, the incredible actress can.