...a blog by Richard Flowers

Friday, September 30, 2011

Day 3922: That Milipede Moment


And now, over to our LIVE-ish feed from the Hard Labour Conference in Liverpool where Mr Potato Ed is just rising to address the sheep delegates. The mood is ELECTRIC. Literally: they've wired up the seating to ensure he gets a standing ovation…

Thank you Comrades, Congress, Concords.

It’s great to be here in Liverpool.

A generation ago a Labour leader came to Conference to condemn the behaviour of a Labour Council in Liverpool.

Thank goodness the Liberal Democrats were in power here for a decade and fixed everything, eh!

Concords, I've got a couple of jokes for you. Harriet Harman.

I'd like to thank Harriet for her unswerving loyalty. To herself. And for applauding my apology for invading Iraq. Even though she voted for invading Iraq. Thanks for that one, David.

Concords, a year ago I was elected your leader.

No, don't laugh.

No, don't cry!

But ask me what has been important to me this year, I say my new son Sam. Giving him his first dagger. Showing him his brother's back.

But Concords, let's get down to business. Which, of course, we can hate again now.

But today we face a choice. Will we change or carry on? Will we stick or twist? Should I stay or should I go? And will you still respect me in the morning?

But Concords, the choice facing the country is urgent. Yes, urgent! Because the election may be three-and-a-half years away – now signed into law – but I could be ousted tomorrow!

But I have to say to you, are we ready? Are we ready to ask the country: will they stay with the new coalition government or can we persuade them to throw the coalition out for the reheated old mantras of the very people they chucked out only eighteen months before?

But Concords, I’m going to tell it to you straight.

This is the lesson I have learnt.

To be true to myself.

Sorry, Mr Ed, I've got to interrupt you there.

Are you familiar with the opera "Peer Gynt" at all? Because Mr Peer Gynt, the hero of this tale, claims as his motto "to thyself be true" when of course he ISN'T at all, he's always changing what he does or says and never finishes or achieves anything, and eventually it is pointed out to him, once he's lost EVERYTHING, that even his MOTTO isn't his but nicked from the Goblin King.

Sorry, I just thought I should mention it, is all. Please carry on with your speech…

But I remember the moment it came home to me most was when I heard the terrible news that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked. I was at a party at the time. I was handing Rupert a cocktail. You can make halfway decent pocket money waiting, even on minimum wage.

But this is the lesson I learnt, rule one of British politics: Don’t mess with Rupert.

But I did mess with Rupert.

But I did it because it was right.

It was the right bandwagon to jump on and the right time to do it!

But that’s the lesson I have learnt most clearly in the last year: you’ve got to be willing to break the consensus, not succumb to it.

Nobody ever changed things on the basis of consensus.

But I know what you're going to say. Consensus is the basis of democracy, our whole system of government. But that's why we opposed a real chance of real democracy in the House of Commons. But don't worry. The lesson that I have learnt is that we're not IN government!

But that’s the lesson I have learnt: I may not know who I am, but I know I’m not Tony Blair.

I know I’m not Gordon Brown either.

Great men, who in their different ways, achieved great things.

But I’m my own man. And I’m going to do things my own way. Except when the Unions tell me not to. (Sorry about ditching the reforms, Peter.)

But Concords, we need to tell people that times are scary. Yes they are. Woo! As scary as that! As scary as finding David at the bottom of my bed at four in the morning. With the scissors. Again.

Concords, the world economy is falling to bits. But we can't let the coalition use that as an excuse. No, that was OUR excuse! Let them find their own excuse. Better yet, let them take the blame for what we left of the economy.

A year ago, lots of people thought the Government was taking the right course: The Governor of the Bank of England; The International Monetary Fund.

But one person in particular stood outside the consensus: Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls.

Hang on, sorry, me again.

Mr Balls has only been your Shadow Chancer since January, you idiot.

It was Mr Alan Johnson a year ago. Postman Pat, remember him? You know, you appointed him and he made all those mistakes about not knowing anything about the economy. And then Bully Balls leaked that thing that made him resign and made you look like a twonk.

Sorry, sorry, carry on…

But concords, you’ve seen a series of crises hitting our country over the last few years: recession… riots… Rupert…

I call it the something for nothing culture.

But as young people confront the choices they have in life, they see routes to success today based on a wrong set of values.

The something for nothing of celebrity culture.

The take what you can of the gangs.

The job for life of a safe Labour seat.

Concords, I say to you: riots! Phone hacking! Bankers! Fill your boots!

And that's why I say to you Mr Balloon is WRONG to talk about Broken Britain, because I say to you BRITAIN IS BROKEN!

Let’s be clear about one thing: the problem isn’t the people of Britain.

Britain, Britain, Britain…

We've had running water for over ten years, we have a tunnel connecting us to Peru, and we invented the cat.

Concords, the people of Britain are wonderful… except for the ones who are horrid.

The teachers, the nurses, the young people… the rioters, the phone hackers, the M.Ps… er…

So I say to Mr Balloon, let's put the politics aside. You agree that I'm right and I'll agree that I'm right too.

You see, Concords, this country needs a new kind of politics. That's why I say to you today, and I say it in all humility: yah boo sucks! Nick Clegg's a Tory and he smells!

Yes, he may be in favour of social mobility but I say what's wrong with daddy fixing you an internship then a cushy number as Mr Frown's SPAD? Only we can represent the proles because only WE know what's good for them!

Concords, it wouldn’t be responsible to make promises I can’t keep. That’s another cheap Nick Clegg’s joke.

Labour would NEVER make promises on tuition fees that they didn't keep. Except when we promised not to introduce them and then did. And except when we promised not to increase them and then did. And except when we promised to support the Browne review and then opportunistically voted against it because it was politically expedient to embarrass the Lib Dems.

So when I promise to cut tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000, you'll know how much that promise is worth.

And that's why it’s right, as a down payment, to tell you that we would use every penny of the sale of bank shares to pay down the debt.

After all, it was the TAXPAYER who saved those banks, so it's only right that they shouldn’t see a penny back and we should use all their money to pay off the debts that WE ran up. Er.

But concords, that's the lesson I have learnt.

Mrs Thatcher did some good things. But she did some bad things and that was very wrong.

And then came New Labour. And I am very proud of all the things that we did. But let me apologise for doing some of them.

Harriet, you may clap now.

Concords, we got some things wrong. In 2003, we accidentally spilled some ink over Tessa Jowell's biology homework and in 2007 we stayed up past our bedtimes and were crabby in the morning. And that is all!

But I'm very sorry for doing it.

But this is the lesson I've learnt: it was wrong and I pledge to you it will never, ever happen again unless the dog eats my schoolbooks and I don't even have my fingers crossed or anything.

But concords, we won't win back the trust of the British people by mentioning great men of the past.

I mentioned Gordon Brown once. But I think I got away with it.

Concords, for thirty years we've had a Tory-led government. Or a Tony-led government. Same difference. Yes… you may boo.

And what happened?

Your living standards have been squeezed by runaway rewards at the top.

And we have seen immigration policy which didn’t work for the people whose jobs, living standards and communities were affected.

Big vested interests like the energy companies have gone unchallenged, while you’re being ripped off.

No, sorry, sorry, it's me. One last time.

Just wanted to ask, Mr Ed, as a former SECRETARY OF STATE FOR ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE, was there anyone, anyone at all who you can think of who might have challenged the energy companies? Anyone? Any names spring to mind? No? Nobody? You're sure? You're quite sure about that? No one at all then.

Okay, just carry on with your speech and I promise no more interruptions…

But that's the lesson I've learnt: NHS, Labour, lovely. Tories, waiting lists, betrayal.

It’s all got to change.

But it will not happen with the old set of rules.

But that's 21st century Britain: still a country for the insiders.

What’s my story?

My parents fled the Nazis.

And came to Britain.

They embraced its values.


Immigrants. But not the bad sort.

Who built a life for us.

So this is who I am.

The heritage of the outsider.

The advantages of the insider.

Think of me as inside out.

The guy who is determined to break the closed circles of Britain.

Not like Nick Clegg, no. He just wants social mobility and an end to foot-in-the-door internships and spadships like the ones I benefitted from. That doesn't mean he'll break the circle of insiders. We won’t let him. Er.

We can't let him!

But this is the lesson I've learnt: we know waiting for the Tories to fail won’t win us back your trust.

And we won’t deserve your trust if that’s what we do.

But it's the only plan we've got!

We can’t spend our way to a new economy. But Ed Balls is damn well going to give it a try anyway!

We can’t pay our way unless as a country we invent things. So I'm going to invent a world where I'm a credible leader and we have polices that are popular, and successful and even exist!

We can't be anti-business, even though we are, because that isn't even a choice any more. If it ever was. Or was it?

But let me tell you what the 21st century choice is:

Are you on the side of the creators or the strippers? The producers or the predators? Swap Shop or TISWAS?

Concords, there are things that Britain does brilliantly. But sometimes we are evil.

And I can tell which is which.

With my magic pointing stick.

But concords, that's why I'm here today. Because this is the lesson I've learnt. I have to offer you a New Bargain. And that's like the New Deal only, you know, cheap.

But my top demand of my Shadow Cabinet, my party, my team, is this:

Remember I'm ED not DAVID!

But my SECOND demand is ambition. Ambition to change our country. It’s why we were founded. It’s in our souls.

Those of us who have souls.

It’s the only point in doing the jobs we do.

Though of course it's a sign of vile treachery and betrayal of their principles in the Liberal Democrats.

Because Concords, that's the lesson I've learnt: people like values.

So I say to you this: I've got values. Good values. Great values. Huge lovely values. Best values! Cheapest values! Bargains!

I don't know what they are. You don't know what they are! But the important thing is that they're there and they're real and in a real sense so am I.

So concords, that's the lesson I've learnt:

To promise you the right values.

Whatever they are.

To fight for the New Bargain.

Whatever it is.

And to fulfil the promise of Britain.

Whatever that even means!

Concords, I've been Ed Nose Day, I'm here all week, try the veal, Thank you.

And the audience groans and rolls over in their seats and here we must apologise for the power cut in the hall preventing us from broadcasting the standing ovation.

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