The Sketch: 'Sensational' Harriet leaves Labour struggling for air

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The Independent Online

Harriet finished her wind-up speech as though someone had sucked all the oxygen out of the hall. She gave us one laugh. The Government's "shameful attack" on democratic rights is "taking away people's right to vote". People aren't being driven from polling stations by whips and dogs – they're being asked for their National Insurance number before signing the form themselves. Hitler would be proud.

The chair, Norma Stephenson, said: "Thanks Harriet, that was sensational," and a roll of laughter broke out of the audience. Norma has a voice like a big dog's death rattle. When she says "sensational" in that voice it offers a world of insincerity.

What were the highlights of the week? Ed Miliband's speech. It was the best big speech of the conference. The private voice he gave us is a real discovery. Now he needs something to say with it.

Two shy little eyes looking through a fringe of hair – who did that remind you of? The lad got a standing ovation for his tale of woe and I'm not surprised. I thought at the time the sly little call on our sympathies had something of the Master about it, something Tony Blair about the boy. "My father's property development company folded and left us penniless. I had to leave the £1m house where I was brought up. Damn those Tory thugs! I live in a semi-detached house now. Do you have ANY IDEA what that is LIKE?" Sobs briefly, looks up into the lights to keep the eyes brimming. "And I have to go to a GRAMMAR SCHOOL. And my iPad isn't 3G, you know, and when people look at it I know they're thinking 'Not the new iPad, is it.' And do you think those Tory scum CARE?" Conference shakes its fists, howling in rage and shared pain.

There's a little colour added to that account.

I'm surprised more 16-year-olds aren't involved in Labour politics, considering the rallying cry is, "It's not FAIR!"

Will the Tories be different? In one way: the Right doesn't hate the Left in the way the Left hates the Right. Tories are irritated or disappointed, as with a sullen waiter, but hate? Not the way Labour hates them.