02/10/2012 08:15 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Ed Gets Personal

** Labour Conference Edition ** Miliband Gets Personal ** Ed Balls Is NOT A 'Bitch' ** ALASTAIR CAMPBELL MP? ** WILD LEADERSHIP SPECULATION**


Ed Miliband is set to give a highly "personal" speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester today, drawing on his experience at comprehensive school and as the son of immigrants.

It perhaps says something about the political class that going to a state comp is considered unusual enough to be worth highlighting.

The Labour leader will use his speech to, among other things, set out "radical" plans to focus on the "forgotten 50%" of students who do not go onto university by proposing a "technical baccalaureate".

There is a joke about Labour being the "forgotten 50%" in Parliament somewhere here. If you can find it do let me know.

Today's Morning Memo is edited by Ned Simons (@nedsimons) as Mehdi is skiving off/still trying to figure out how to turn on his Macbook.

Miliband Speech Drinking Game: Drink once for the word "pleb" and down your entire mini-bar for the word "pre-distribution".



In a deeply personal (seems to be a theme today) interview with The Huffington Post's Mehdi Hasan, Ed Balls denies he ever briefed against Labour colleagues, insisting he has "never been a bitch".

Balls also reveals he and his wife Yvette Cooper have not been for a night out without their children for ten years. “And leave the children with the nanny?” he says dismissively when asked. “No.”

The shadow chancellor also responds to whether he is embarrassed by student antics that saw him dress as a Nazi. “Of course I’m not embarrassed by it," he says. "If I had the choice again, would I do it? No. Is there a difference between being 20 and being 40? Yes."

CONFERENCE SPY: Tom Watson MP singing a duet with think-tanker Will Straw at a Labour karaoke party.


Labour's shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant echoed Gordon Brown's infamous 'British jobs for British workers' phrase at Labour conference fringe event last night, reports HuffPost UK's Dina Rickman who was chairing the event.

"Sometimes people's concerns about migration are really concerns about jobs for themselves," he said.

"In particular I think there are three industries, the hospitality industry, the construction industry and agriculture who have done remarkably little to make sure there are British people able to come in [and work in] those industries.


We did it for the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg so it's only fair to do it for Labour and Ed Miliband. Who are the Top Ten totally serious contenders to succeed Miliband as Labour leader. Hint: One of them is also called "Miliband". Hint: No not mother Miliband.

CONFERENCE MOOD: According to Mehdi in Manchester it's "like a pancake, flat and thin", or so say Labour activists and journalists.


Alastair Campbell suggested on LBC radio last night that he is open to the possibility of running for parliament in 2015. Suggestions as to which Commons seat he may seek in the comments section here.


"The tone on a conference call with Republican pollsters Monday, discussing Mitt Romney's chances of winning over key swing voters, was rather gloomy," reports HuffPost's Jon Ward.

Romney's "biggest obstacle" with these voters apparently, is, "a connection to understanding what these voters have been living through the last four years, and having policies in place to address that."


WATCH: Obama's got 99 problems.. but Mitt ain't one.


Lisa Nandy, the shadow children's minister and Labour rising star, says she doesn't understand why G4S was given the security contract for the Labour conference.

Nandy, speaking yesterday at a Labour Friends of Palestine fringe chaired by Mehdi (anyone seen him? He is supposed to be writing this email), accused G4S of collusion in the Israeli occupation and says she has written to the party's general secretary Iain Macnichol to seek an answer.

Poor ol' G4S... they can't seem to catch a break...


Oxford graduate Ed Balls on the Bullingdon Club:"We all assumed it was the figment of some toff’s imagination.”


A ComRes poll for The Independent shows only two out of 10 people believe Miliband has what it takes to be a good prime minister.

The survey (helpfully) published today showed that only 22% of people thought Miliband would do a god job in No.10 compared to 39% who say David Cameron has.

Labour is still leading on 38% (down four points on last month), to the Conservatives on 35% (no change).

Interestingly the Lib Dems are on 15% (up three points). A post conference boost?


@DinaRickman: Just had a conversation with Ken Livingstone about eating children.

@SamMacrory: To show Labour listens, Angela Eagle unveils a gesture which is 'like a Star Trek salute, & obviously normal people like Star Trek'.

@SamLister: Asked on Daybreak if he fancies Labour's top job Chuka Umunna still declines to give an outright no.


Peter Kellner, in a HuffPost UK blog, says: "There's no escaping it. Miliband has much to do, starting with this week's Labour conference, to seal the deal with the electorate. Labour's lead over the Tories is rooted in disappointment with the Conservatives and disillusion with the Liberal Democrats, not a positive view of Labour, or enthusiasm for its leader."

Ben Brogan, writing in the Telegraph: "Until last night, the build-up to the leader’s speech had been striking for the absence of predictions that this was a “make or break” moment. Yet those around him now concede that it is."

Rachel Sylvester, in The Times: "It’s no good politicians just telling the voters they’re wrong. They have to start where the electorate is, accept the voters’ assumptions and then take the argument from there. "

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan (mehdi.hasan@huffingtonpost.com), Chris Wimpress (chris.wimpress@huffingtonpost.com) or Ned Simons (ned.simons@huffingtonpost.com). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @chriswimpress, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol