7pm WATCH: Richard Branson says that, after the Department for Transport climb-down, Virgin stands a good chance of winning the West Coast Main Line contract

Conference 20125pm ToryDiary: Fraser Nelson says that David Cameron’s defeat is “horribly likely”

4.45pm ToryDiary: Give NI tax breaks to employers of TA volunteers — and other morale-boosters for reservists

3.15pm WATCH: A double-bill, straight from the Labour conference:

2pm Robert Halfon MP on Comment: Ed Miliband isn’t talking about Disraeli’s One Nation, and this presents Tories with a wonderful opportunity

12.45pm WATCH: Patrick McLoughlin: We will learn lessons from the West Coast Main Line u-turn

11.45am John Glen MP on Comment: Rhetoric vs Reality, or why Miliband’s speech will be forgotten

10.15am ToryDiary: The Government's calamitous climb-down over the West Coast Main Line deal

DisraeliIn an EXCLUSIVE FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE Benjamin Disraeli tells ConservativeHome that Ed Miliband leads the No Nation party

Andrew Morrison on Comment: One Nation? We got it decades ago, Ed — Labour still doesn’t

Columinst Jill Kirby: We can’t rely on government, so we have to start saving for old age

Local Government: More questions for Labour candidate as auditor refuses to sign off Corby Council's accounts

The Deep End: One year on, what can conservatives learn from the Occupy movement?

Ed Miliband's speech in Manchester: he attempts to seize the "One Nation" mantle from the Tories

must be a one nation party, to become a one nation government, to build a one
nation Britain,' [Mr Miliband] declared. … He said this spirit had been
demonstrated in the Second World War, in Attlee’s post-war Labour government
and during the 2012 Olympics. … Mr Miliband insisted the
Conservatives had lost the right to call themselves a one-nation party –
repeatedly highlighting the cut in the top rate of income tax from 50p to
45p." – Daily Mail

"In his address, which was delivered without notes, Mr Miliband said there will be 'no more important area' over the next two years than the independence referendum." – Daily Telegraph

The newspapers' editorial reactions:

  • "But, all in all, this was a well targeted speech, impressively delivered. However, it was also profoundly dishonest." – Daily Mail editorial
  • "For months, the Conservatives have been saying
    privately that Mr Miliband will be their 'secret weapon' at the next general
    election. After yesterday’s speech, such staggering complacency has been
    exposed for what it is." – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • "…it was a shame that the rhetorical move to the centre disguised a political strategy and a policy programme that, where it can be clearly identified at all, is rooted rather more to the left." – The Times (£) editorial
  • “The
    blank sheet where Labour’s policies should be written is filled with a vague ‘One
    Nation’ theme shamelessly stolen from David Cameron, whom Mr Miliband spent an
    hour trashing.” – Sun editorial
  • "His speech was his most commanding to date. But his message was still more aimed at the party rather than the country." – Financial Times (£) editorial 
  • “None of this means,
    however, that Labour are home and dry; or that Britain has suddenly embraced a
    Labour leader who still polls poorly. But Mr Miliband has
    done his best to change that.” – Guardian editorial
  • "Mr Miliband's tour de force left him looking stronger, and the Conservatives more vulnerable, than either has looked at any time since the last election. If Mr Cameron wasn't worried before, he should be now." – Independent editorial

A selection of other comment:

  • Polly_Toynbee"It was the day Miliband's private qualities at last turned into public strengths: not just brainy but funny, likable and an unashamed egalitarian to the core of his being." – Polly Toynbee, Guardian
  • "The best thing about Mr Miliband’s speech is that it
    was bold. The charge into Tory history and language poses a question that Mr
    Cameron may ridicule but cannot ignore." – James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph
  • "Mr Miliband is not yet vaguely comparable to Disraeli, and he may never be. Even so, he has shown a glimmer of the qualities required in every towering leader." – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph"This
    is not the beginning of the end of the coalition, or anything like that. But it
    may well mark the beginning of serious opposition." – Matthew Engel, Financial
    Times (£)
  • "Some saw the move as an imitation of Tony Blair. But it was subtler and more ambitious than that. Having claimed the consensual middle ground, he hinted at the radical policies that the one nation would expect, explicitly moving on from both old and new Labour." – Steve Richards, Independent

> Today on ConservativeHome:

> And yesterday on ConservativeHome:

And Mr Miliband is boosted by support for his "Tech Bacc" proposal

"Lord Baker, the Tory former education secretary who is opening a chain of technical schools, supported the Tech Bacc proposal. … 'We need academic and technical subjects to be equally stretching and equally valued,' he said. A similar idea had recently been promoted by Lord Adonis, the Blairite former schools minister." – Financial Times (£)

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Vocational education report author rejects Miliband's anti-Government attacks

The Labour leadership has "disowned" an idea that it may target universal benefitsIndependent

Yvette Cooper to call for earlier police intervention to help prevent sex-grooming

Cooper"She will urge Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to help schools, health services, social services and the police, to evaluate available evidence. Labour believes this will enable earlier interventions by the police and others." – The Times (£)

  • Ms Cooper will also announce plans to crack down on those involved in Libor-style "fraud" – Financial Times (£)

Labour brings out Britain's Olympic stars for its conference

"Lord Coe, Nicola Adams and Dave Brailsford were among the guests at a London 2012 extravaganza, staged in part to trumpet the contribution of Tessa Jowell, the former Culture Secretary who pushed for Britain to bid for the Games." – The Times (£)

The West Coast mainline deal has been scrapped after Department for Transport officials get their sums wrong

Trains"It is now likely that the Government will have to nationalise the line until a new bid process can begin. … But Sir Richard Branson said he hoped ministers would let him continue to run the West Coast, which Virgin has operated for 14 years. … Mr McLoughlin today said: 'I have had to cancel the competition for the running of the West Coast franchise because of deeply regrettable and completely unacceptable mistakes made by my department in the way it managed the process.'" – Daily Mail

  • “Wednesday’s
    decision is a partial victory at least for incumbent Virgin Trains, which had
    mounted a legal challenge to the decision to award the contract to rival
    FirstGroup.” – Financial Times (£)

The British Chambers of Commerce suggests that we're out of recession

Upturn"The British Chambers of Commerce said the economy grew by 0.5 per cent between July and September – the first quarter of growth since the same period last year. … The report, based on a survey of more than 7,500 companies, also cast doubt over official figures stating that the UK was in recession for nine months between October 2011 and June 2012." - Daily Mail

  • The Chancellor should not worry about hitting notional targets. Better to miss them than dampen growth – David Wighton, The Times (£)

> Yesterday, by our columnist Andrew Lilico: Higher unemployment could be a necessary condition for recovery

Plunging petrol sales have cost the Treasury £1.3 billion since 2008 - Sun

Maria Miller tells the Telegraph that she would vote (again) to lower the abortion limit

Miller"Maria Miller told the Telegraph it was 'common sense' to lower the legal limit at which a pregnancy can be terminated in order to 'reflect the way science has moved on'. … In her first public comments on the matter since she voted to reduce the legal limit for abortion to 20 weeks in 2008, Mrs Miller said she would 'absolutely' do the same a second time." – Daily Telegraph

Jeremy Hunt has "shunned" a food forum intended to tackle issues such as obesityFinancial Times (£)

The government is seeking to reach deals with foreign powers, such as Russia and China, to tackle cyberespionageFinancial Times (£)

Now Andrew Mitchell is under attack for his decisions over aid money

"Andrew Mitchell overruled Foreign Office advice to hand £16million of British aid money to a controversial African dictator accused of fuelling a bloody civil war. … A senior Foreign Office source told the Daily Mail that Mr Mitchell’s decision to lift the freeze on aid to Paul Kagame’s Rwandan regime was a 'mistake' which would damage Britain’s reputation for standing up against human rights abuses." – Daily Mail

  • A retired policeman has made a formal complaint about Mr Mitchell's Downing St rant – Sun

> Yesterday, by Nick de Bois MP on Comment: Taxpayers should not be asked to spend any more money on aid until it is proven to be well spent

The Abu Hamza extradition saga rumbles on: now his lawyers claim that he isn't sleeping properly in prison

"Now he has changed tactics by saying he has ‘deteriorating health’ and it would be ‘oppressive’ to kick him out in his condition. In papers before two judges in London, Hamza’s QC, Alun Jones, argues there is ‘medical opinion that a [MRI] scan is medically necessary’. … The QC said Home Secretary Theresa May had been asked in August for a scan to take place in jail, but the request had been ‘ignored’." - Daily Mail

Michael Gove is urged to "slow down" by Graham Stuart

Michael Gove"Michael
Gove’s plans to replace GCSEs and radically reform A levels were attacked as
incoherent by Graham Stuart, the chairman of the Commons Education Committee.
… He drew a parallel with the way in which Ed Balls forced through Labour’s
diploma qualification, saying that he wasted tens of millions of pounds on a
project that failed. He urged head teachers at private schools to appeal to Mr
Gove to delay his exam reforms." – The Times (£)

  • The head of Manchester Grammar says that private schools are being "handicapped" by universities who have to meet state targets – The Times (£)

> Yesterday:

Gerald Howarth says that MPs must be given a vote on the proposed BAE merger

Gerald Howarth"The potential merger of BAE with Franco-German aviation giant EADS should be delayed so Parliament can discuss whether it is in the national interest, a former defence minister said yesterday. … Gerald Howarth, who was minister for security strategy until last month’s reshuffle, said the Government must not allow Paris and Berlin to gain control of the UK’s biggest defence firm." – Daily Mail

Philip Johnston: Is the Coalition really giving us a freer society?

"It is testament to the extraordinary amount of illiberal
legislation introduced during Labour’s 13 years in power that we are still
prepared to put up with restrictions that previous generations would have found
intolerable." – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

Daniel Finkelstein: People distrust politicians because of the gulf between their rhetoric and their actions

"It’s just that politicians have a hard time accepting that all they can do is make a few prosaic changes, a reform here, a small change there. Over time, of course this can make a difference. But the global economy is so big and society so complicated that it is just a delusion to believe that politicians can create the new Jerusalem. And to pretend that they can undermines trust." – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

  • Politicians are all talking about planning — but they actually need a plan – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

A Panorama investigation discovers that NHS staff are illegally accepting cash from "health tourists" for the purposes of hospital treatmentDaily Mail

The National Union of Mineworkers has asked the High Court whether it must keep paying for Arthur Scargill's London flatDaily Mail

The gap between property prices in the North and the South is at its widest since records began in 1974Daily Mail

And finally… what is the probability of MPs answering a probability question wrongly?

Coin"A total of 97 MPs were asked this probability problem: if you spin a coin twice, what is the probability of getting two heads? … Among Conservative members, 47% gave the wrong answer, which is disappointing enough. But of the 44 Labour MPs who took part, 77% answered incorrectly." - Mark Easton's BBC blog


> Please use the
thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to
ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been
given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.