Look out for
The shadow chancellor, Alistair Darling, will make a speech today in which he will defend his original plans to halve the budget deficit over four years. These plans have been described by the new Labour leader, Ed Miliband, as “broadly the right starting point”, although he said he wanted to look at ways they could be improved. Miliband’s stance on cuts and deficit reduction is the first big question of his leadership. Darling, who is stepping down from frontbench politics, earlier told the Today programme that Labour should focus on “growth”, but must be based in the centre-ground, dismissing fears that Miliband would lurch to the left.
Signs of trouble
All eyes will be on David Miliband, who will take to the stage at the conference centre this morning to give his first speech since being beaten to the leadership by his younger brother Ed by just 1.3 per cent of the vote. The big question hanging in the air is whether the shadow foreign secretary would be willing to serve in a shadow cabinet under his brother, and whether there is the risk that this could be the beginning of new divisions in the party. It is speculated that he could be offered the role of shadow chancellor. Both brothers, and other senior party figures, have insisted that there will be no re-run of the Blair-Brown years, stressing the need for unity. We will not get any answers today, although it is more than likely that someone will raise the issue in today’s question and answer session; however, David says that he needs time to think about his future.
On the fringe
As the Israeli settlement freeze comes to an end today, putting the future of the peace talks into question, the New Statesman hosts a fringe event discussing the region: “Gaza life support: Is aid a failure of politics?”. Gareth Thomas MP, Shadow Minister for International Development and
Baroness Helena Kennedy, former president of Medical Aid for Palestinians will discuss the question with the New Statesman‘s James Macintyre.
9.30: Conference opens
9.45 – 11.15: European PLP Report from Glenis Willmott MEP.
Britain in the World; panel discussion and Q&A from Douglas Alexander, Bob Ainsworth, and David Miliband.
11.15: Jim Murphy MP and Ian Gray MSP discussion on 2011 Scottish elections.
11.30 – 12.45: Alasdair Darling Q&A.
Yvette Cooper Q&A
12.45: Conference adjourns for lunch
14.15 – 16.00: Pat McFadden and Liam Byrne Q&As.
16.00: Conference ends.