After Ed Miliband had finished his conference speech, he was immediately attacked by the Tories for failing to mention the deficit. George Osborne tweeted: “Ed Miliband didn’t mention the deficit once. Extraordinary. If you can’t fix the economy you can’t fund the NHS.”
But as I revealed on Twitter, the original text (posted on The Staggers) did feature a section on the deficit, as well as a longer one on immigration (which was mentioned just once). Labour have effectively confirmed the story by noting that it was “a long speech”.
In a 65-minute, no-notes performance it is perhaps inevitable that Miliband will forget some passages (it was one on climate change in 2012). But given Labour’s polling weakness on the deficit and immigration, there could not have been a worse section to miss out. The Tories have been gifted their attack line for the day: Ed Miliband can’t remember the deficit and immigration, because he doesn’t care about them. Expect David Cameron’s speechwriters to hastily insert a passage on this in his own conference address.
You can compare the two versions below.
“I’ve got a better idea — come this May, let’s give him all the time he needs for surfing and angry birds and tennis with the Russian oligarchs Let’s send him into opposition.
“Here’s the hard truth: the Tories have no plan for the future for you and your family. That’s why we need Labour’s plan for Britain’s future.
And in the four years since we lost the last election, we have learnt hard, important lessons. They start with government having to live within its means. If people feel cynical now — and they do — think how much worse it would be if we made false promises.
“There won’t be money to spend after the next election. Britain will be spending £75 billion on the interest on our debt alone. That’s more than the entire budget for our schools.
“So as Ed Balls announced yesterday, Labour’s plan is based on a tough new approach. Eliminating the deficit as soon as possible in the next parliament. Getting the national debt falling. And no proposals for additional borrowing.
“We will get the deficit down.
“The next Labour government will deal with our nation’s debts. And it is because government won’t have the money to spend, it is more important than ever that everyone does their bit so we change Britain together.
“One Nation Labour has changed from New Labour — businesses have a responsibility to pay their taxes, respect their customers and treat their workers fairly.
“Because together we can and on our own we can’t. Those who can work have a responsibility to do so. Because together we can and on our own we can’t.
“Immigration benefits our country but those who come here have a responsibility to learn English and earn their way. And employers have a responsibility not to exploit migrant workers and undercut wages.
“Because together we can and on our own we can’t. Government, business, working people acting together. Living up to their responsibilities. A new ethic. A national effort. Labour’s plan for Britain’s future.”
“I want to set out six national goals. Not just for one year or one term of office. But a plan for the next ten years. Britain 2025.”
“Now, I’ve got an idea for our Prime Minister: he likes the surfing, he likes playing that game Angry Birds and he likes the tennis with the Russian oligarchs. Friends, I’ve got a great idea: Why don’t we give him all the time in the world to do all of those things. Come next May, let’s send him into opposition.
“It’s up to us. We have to build a future for you and your family. That’s what Labour’s plan for Britain’s future is all about.
“Today I want to lay out six national goals. Not just for one term of office. Or even for one year. But a plan for the next ten years. Britain 2025.”