Labour Conference Diary: Mind the credibility gap, Mr Shapps…
Ed Miliband's speech yesterday did not impress the Conservative party chairman, Grant Shapps. As the applause in Manchester faded, Shapps sent out a statement on the web. "To prove he is credible, Ed Miliband had to do more than give a speech to rouse the Labour party faithful," it said. "He had to show that he had learned from the mistakes that Labour made in office." It went on to castigate the Labour leader for not backing the Government's welfare or immigration caps, and accused him of standing for "more spending, more borrowing and more debt".
There was another passage in the speech that the Tory chairman overlooked. "We've a party chairman," Miliband said, "who writes books about how to beat the recession, under a false name… I have to say if I was Chairman of the Conservative Party, I'd have a false name too." He was referring, of course, to Michael Green, Grant Shapps's alter ego, who ran an internet business. Shapps not only has two personalities; he has also claimed to have been born in two places. Who better to deliver a homily on how to be "credible"?
Heard the one about the old oak tree?
There was something familiar about that phrase from Ed Miliband's speech yesterday "the Milibands haven't sat under the same oak tree for the last 500 years". But it was not the Thomas Hardy novel: his was a greenwood. Nor was it the Old Testament angel of the Lord. It was this phrase: "You could say my family have not sat under the same oak tree for the last 500 years. This is who I am", from a speech delivered last June – by Ed Miliband.
Tomlinson's starring role: a flying picket
Few people remember that Ricky Tomlinson, star of The Royle Family, first came to public notice as a defendant in a criminal trial. In 1972, the Home Secretary, Robert Carr, ordered chief constables to do something about flying pickets disrupting building sites. Two building workers, Tomlinson and another man, Des Warren, were jailed for "conspiracy to intimidate". Tomlinson will be in Manchester today to mark the anniversary.
One Nation not under a groove
It would be interesting to hear what the Secretary of the One Nation Group of Conservative MPs thinks about Ed Miliband stealing their trade name. But the man who served as their secretary from 1989-92 and again from 2005 is not answering calls, because he is the Chief Whip, and whips don't speak to the press, and the other day he forgot that we are one nation when speaking to a police officer. He is Andrew Mitchell.
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