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28 September 2010

Conference 2010 Lookahead | Tuesday 28 September

The who, when and where of the Labour conference.

By Patrick Osgood

Look out for

All eyes will be on Ed Miliband today as he gives the first landmark speech of his political career to conference. The commentariat have been telling him what to say since Sunday, variously advising him to stay the course set out by Alistair Darling on the deficit, or — now that New Labour is dead — to make his own way. The Labour Leader is expected to distance himself from Gordon Brown’s claims that Labour could save Britain from “Tory boom and bust”, urge the party to reconnect with working and lower-middle class voters who feel betrayed by the recession, and state that his leader ship ushers in “a new generation with different attitudes, different ideas and different ways of doing politics”. He is also likely to recommend tax rises over spending cuts as the key ingredient of deficit reduction. Today is undoubtedly the biggest day of the younger Miliband’s political life.

Signs of trouble

David Miliband, having been rumoured to have been offered the shadow chancellorship and rejected it, is now thought likely to announce his departure from front-bench politics in favour of an international role of some sort. While the elder Miliband is sensibly keen to head off any danger of Blair-Brown-esque splits within the party, his loss from the future shadow cabinet will be a huge loss of talent. Having passed up on a European role, it is not clear what available post would equal with David’s stature. On the economic front, there is likely to be a range of opinion on whether Alistair Darling’s precription delivered yesterday, Ed Miliband’s tax-driven plan delivered later today, or Ed Balls’s more Keynsian policy advocated throughout his candidacy is best electorally and economically.

On the fringe

It’s about getting back in touch with the base today: Jon Cruddas heads up a round table on whether the centre left can become a grass-roots movement for change, and the New Statesman hosts a discussion with (among others) John Denham on how the party can reconnect with the white working class at 17.30. The New Statesman also hosts a fringe event discussing “Will schools have too much freedom in a ‘Big Society’?” at 13.00.

Conference timetable

9.30: Conference opens

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Mid-morning: Shaun Woodward, Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary

Late morning: Debate on criminal justice, speeches from Jack Straw and Alan Johnson

12.45: Conference adjourns for lunch

14.30: Ed Miliband’s speech as Labour Leader

16.15: Policy seminars on equality, energy and health policy.