Thursday: 14:30: The LibDems I spoke to at conference – and indeed their elected representatives like Vince and Nick – are proud of the Independent Commission on Banking. The ring-fence and capital surcharge seemed like a popular, left-of-centre response to the financial crisis, one that might find a great deal of vocal support from the Opposition benches.
Then came Labour Conference. It wasn’t that the report was attacked – although deadlines and scope were criticised – but rather that it was practically ignored.
The ICB often came up in fringe meetings, but rarely from the mouths of Labour. Instead it fell to representatives from industry to bring up the (yellow) elephant in the room.
Instead of “ring-fence” we have the phrases like the wonderfully technocratic “legislatively hardwire consumer protection into regulation”, “focus on the consumer” and other variations on a similar theme.
This all chimes rather too neatly with Ed’s call for a “new bargain” to be pure coincidence (and I would expect nothing less during the overarched PR exercise that is party conference).
It seems likely then that Labour is seeking to make its own consumer-centric push for banking reform. Whether this comes at the amendment stage of the new financial services bill or in another format remains to be seen, but what does seem clear is that the ICB tastes a little bit too much like Liberal Democrat for the current, post Coalition Agreement, Labour palate.
Ben Norman from Cicero Group
He tried out his jokes – and they worked
He called for a ’new bargain’ with the British people – sounds like a big idea (?)
He got a standing ovation for his commitment to the NHS.
And he called for a new economy.
Something for something.
So no longer ’new’ Labour but perhaps the start of a new prospectus for Labour.
And of course for Ed coalition ministers ’aren’t in this together’ with ordinary folk.
While he attacked the energy companies some signs that the Labour leader’s language on financial services is starting to bend.
He wants the financial sector to become the ’enabler’ once again. Post Vickers – maybe the bashing of the sector might pause.
And a new conversation can take place.
But there wasn’t a lot of policy detail today. Probably right three and a half years from an election.
Miliband looked less wooden today.
Lots of brainpower has gone into this speech and this new credo – the ’bargain’
But is anyone listening.
Poor guy – the BBC and Sky coverage went down for a large chunk of his speech.
Doesn’t help really.
Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson
Monday 17:00: Ed Balls is working hard to rebuff coalition claims that both he and the Labour Party lack credibility on the economy. Recently in the Commons he offered a frank apology for the part he played in the failure to sufficiently regulate the banks. Today at Conference he pledged that neither he, nor any other shadow minister, will promise to reverse any specific spending cut enacted by the Government.
This was not a pledge designed to please the Party faithful assembled in the conference hall in Liverpool, most of whom would gladly take up arms in a fight against a whole raft of specific Government spending cuts: to EMAs, the Future Jobs Fund, policing et al. This commitment was aimed at the majority of voters in the wider electorate who, according to polls, continue to place Conservatives ahead of Labour on economic competency. Balls knows that unless he wrests this back from the Tories, he will never be able to fully take advantage of the lacklustre performance of the economy under George Osborne’s austerity plan.
On growth he outlined a five step plan. Some of the steps, like the bonus tax and a cut in VAT, we’ve heard lots about before; others less so. A one year national insurance break for small firms taking on extra workers and a reduction in VAT on home maintenance and repairs suggest that Balls is beginning to put more meat on the bones of Labour’s economic policy.
So how did the speech go down in Liverpool? Well, I didn’t have the fortune to be in the main conference hall at the time (though I gather it was well received there). However as I was standing outside the Hilton Hotel just outside the conference centre, I had a chat with the doorman and a taxi driver there. Proper Scousers and old school Labour supporters both, one had seen the speech and thought it was great, the other told me Balls should be Labour leader. One Ed appears to have set the bar high – can the other Ed top it?
Cicero Consulting associate Simon Fitzpatrick
Sunday: Its always a make or break conference for any party leader or so it seems.
Their conference speech the most crucial ever. Their appearance poured over by the commentariat.
And so it is for Labour leader Ed Miliband, still struggling to make his voice heard over the two parties in government.
I have to say – he has started well. Getting some significant share of the crowded Sunday news agenda – filled with Eurozone woe – with his tuition fees announcement.
Watching twitter while he appeared on Andy Marr #marrshow and Sky’s Murnaghan #murnaghan you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy as people attacked his style rather than his substanc
He’s ahead in the polls and it is substance that might keep him there.
Let’s see. Now onto the ’crucial’ speech on Tuesday….
Cicero Consulting director Iain Anderson