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Iain Martin explains the true purpose of the Labour conference in today’s Telegraph:

"This week was about killing David Cameron and the
Conservatives; not defeating them or inflicting a set-back but wiping
them off the map. It is important that the nature of this project is
properly understood. The smartest ministers know that Cameron is still
the best of his Tory generation.
They will not
want him around much longer and sense that his party will disintegrate
if they can inflict a heavy defeat quickly. Brown’s building of a big
tent is cleverly designed to stress that he runs a national government
so all-encompassing that there is no requirement for that old-fashioned
concept of a functioning opposition."

Whilst Gordon Brown was too big, too consensual to mention the Conservatives once in his hour long speech, his lieutenants have had plenty of licence to go on the attack.

Ed Balls criticised Cameron’s crude, socially divisive education policy for being not back to basics but "back to privilege, back to the past", creating a world-class
education not for all but "for the privileged elite". He continued to wage class warfare with his description of Boris Johnson as "a gaffe-prone, TV quiz-show clown – a Bullingdon club throwback to a bygone age". Hazel Blears continued the theme:

"The last thing a modern, diverse,
international-class capital like London needs is a fogeyish, bigoted
and upper-class twit for its mayor. For all Cameron’s claims to localism, his is the party
which abolished London’s city government, starved councils of cash, and
created a centralised government worthy of Napoleon. The Tories have never trusted the people, whether they
were single mums, miners, or the millions on the dole, and no amount of
open necked-shirts will make us forgive or forget".

Ken Livingstone also got in on the act of attacking the Conservative Party’s "backward blond element" by declaring what a pleasure it
was for him to deliver the "first annual Boris Johnson memorial
lecture".

Defector Quentin Davies
got a standing ovation for saying that his former leader had made a
"Faustian pact with his own extremists" on the EU, and that he said
"such consistently foolish and superficial and transparently
contradictory things" on education and the economy.

Alan Johnson laced his speech with references to the bad old Tories:

  • "The Tories always had ministers who could stitch you up, we’ve got one who can cut you open as well."
  • "The public doesn’t view history in neatly divided chunks, defined by which party was in government.
    Whilst they will remember the trauma of long waiting
    times, shabby buildings and a crisis every winter in the Tory years,
    it’s a fading memory, and their concerns are about the future."
  • "As Nye Bevan said when the NHS was created, "the
    service must always be changing, growing and improving. It must always
    appear inadequate." While we champion clinical change, the Tories oppose it.
    Nothing illustrates more clearly how unfit to govern the Conservative
    party has become."
  • "The
    Tories aren’t the future of the National Health
    Service, they’re still catching up with the past. They say they support
    the NHS, having opposed its creation vehemently sixty years ago. And
    they say they are committed to the additional funding that they voted
    against just three years ago. At the last election they proposed that
    NHS money should fund people to go private. At worst they are
    regressive; at best they are a major risk."

As did David Miliband:

  • "And to every Tory MP we should say: there are 8
    members of your shadow cabinet who voted against a referendum on The
    Maastricht Treaty in 1992. Europe has divided them for 15 years and it’s not going to divide us."
  • "Some want distance from America. Others want distance from Europe.
    The Tories want divorce from both."

Not forgetting, of course, that Kinnock wants to "grind the bastards into the dust".

And that’s just some of the things said by senior figures from the main stage…

Deputy Editor

74 comments for: Brown’s not so big tent

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