Sunday 16 January 2011

The #fab11 wrap: media and blogosphere round-up

Ed Miliband's keynote speech can be watched on YouTube, and the text is online.

The Observer's news report highlights Miliband's critique of Labour's approach to both the state and the market, noting his praise for London Citizens and the influence of Maurice Glasman on his speech. (The Observer also has a profile of Glasman, whose Fabian Review essay on the limits of the state was referenced by Miliband).

"Parties don't suffer defeats like the one we suffered last May because of an accumulation of small errors," he said. "They do so by making serious mistakes, and that's why I have said what I have said on issues like Iraq, failing to properly regulate the banks, ignoring concerns about economic security and not doing enough to deliver on the promise of a new politics. We have to show that we have learned lessons if the British people are to trust us again."

The Mail on Sunday's report - sees Miliband's admission that ‘We were too slow to acknowledge . . . that there would eventually have to be cuts’ as a 'snub to his former patron Gordon Brown', and views the Labour leader's comments on the 'fabric of community life' as an audacious appeal to small c conservatives.

‘We didn’t think enough about weakening social bonds and squeezing time with our families. People don’t just care about the bottom line – there is so much more to life.’ He urged Labour to return to its roots as part of the ‘fabric of community life’ and do more to stand up to the City.


The Scotsman focuses on Miliband's appeal to disaffected LibDems.

The paper quotes Simon Hughes saying that LibDem supporters "should "resist the blandishments of the Labour leader".

Tom Rouse has a detailed report at Left Foot Forward on Hughes' comments to the conference. But The Observer suggests Hughes' own appearance at the conference - especially his willingness to criticise Coalition policies, on fairness grounds, suggests the warmer Miliband tone towards LibDems "appeared to yield immediate dividends":

His overtures appeared to yield immediate dividends: Simon Hughes, the Lib Dems' deputy leader, said at the Fabian Society event that he had been working closely with Labour in a row over coalition plans to scrap the education maintenance allowance (EMA). The scheme encourages poorer pupils to stay on in education through a grant of £30 a week, but it is to be stopped from September. Hughes said he had been talking to Labour's education spokesman, Andy Burnham, about supporting a Labour motion in parliament this week, during an opposition-day debate on EMA. He hoped the motion would commit the government to finding a suitable alternative to the allowance.

Fabian member Shibley Rahman has uploaded to YouTube video clips from the session involving LibDem deputy leader Simon Hughes on a panel with Labour's Douglas Alexander and the Greens' Sian Berry, along with Will Straw and Sunder Katwala, chaired by Polly Toynbee.

Clips include:

* Simon Hughes' (partial) defence of the Coalition
* Douglas Alexander's response (from 2m 40s).
* Will Straw
* Sunder Katwala
* Douglas Alexander's comments on pluralism in Scotland.


Observer commentator Andrew Rawnsley emphasises the need to restore Labour's reputation for economic credibility, a central theme in the Labour leader's Sunday morning interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr.

There was a live-blog through the conference from Mark Ferguson of LabourList. Mark also set out his reflections on the keynote speech.

Anthony Painter for LabourList says that this "thoughtful speech for a thinking audience" was "a speech Ed Miliband needed to give". Painter perhaps exaggerates slightly Miliband's dumping of the Fabian tradition

The very great fortune that Labour has is that its traditions provide many of the raw materials for constructing a compelling offer in 2015. Ed Miliband dumped the Fabian tradition here at the Fabian conference - albeit gently. Out with Tony Crosland, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and in with the co-operative and mutualist traditions of social faith, early trade unionism and community organising. At least he came to the Fabians' conference to dump them rather than just sending them a text or ignoring their phone calls.

Miliband clearly acknowledged both that Labour needs a nuanced defence of the state where necessary, and that the Fabian tradition is a plural one. (After all, a critical interrogation of Fabianism is an enduring theme of Fabian revisionism; Paul Richards has set out the many mutualist resources of Fabianism itself).

Labour-supporting blogger Delilah found the conference encouraging in its quest for an alternative - but thinks the Labour leader needs to do more to set out his destination and strategy to get there.

Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy - a May 2010 LibDem voter who has since joined Labour - found many positives in the Ed Miliband speech from the liberal-left of the Labour party.

More conference panel reports

I heard a fair amount of positive feedback about the panel on 'movement politics' which brought Labour's Jon Cruddas and Chuka Umunna together with right-wing voices Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome and Matthew Elliott of the Taxpayers' Alliance, and Laurie Penny of the New Statesman. Shelly Asquith picks up the discussion of US politics.

Chris Tarquini reports on the democratic futures panel, discussion challenges for improving democracy beyond May's electoral reform referendum, and Shibley Rahman reports on the democracy discussion.

Tom Rouse of Left Foot Forward reports on the panel discussing how to prevent internationalism becoming a casualty of austerity.

Next Left's conference preview has more on the conference.

If you've written about the conference, please do include a link in the comments, and we'll try to add more links. Or please do let us know your views here.

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