24/09/2013 04:40 BST

Mehdi's Morning Memo: Ed Miliband To Say Words

The five things you need to know on Tuesday 24 September 2013...


Ed Miliband will deliver his set piece speech to the Labour Party conference today. The Labour leader's speech is said to be over an hour long. And according to Ed Balls, Miliband finished writing it two weeks ago. Yesterday the shadow chancellor hinted that there would be two new manifesto pledges unveiled in the address. As The Guardian reports, one will be a promise to build 200,000 new houses a year by 2020, the end of the next parliament. And the other, as detailed in the Financial Times, will be to increase corporation tax and spend the money supporting small business.

Today's Memo is edited by Ned Simons as Mehdi Hasan is totally focused on trying to complete one of the Rubix cubes with Ed Miliband's face on handed out in Brighton.


Damian McBride continues to haunt the conference in Brighton. Gordon Brown's former spinner is doing a series of TV interviews today following his appearance on Newsnight (for some reason on a set that looked like a jungle) last night. "I don't think this will make any difference to the way people vote at the next election," McBride told ITV's Daybreak. He also insisted Miliband, Balls and Brown "weren't really involved" in his activities.

The Daily Telegraph's Jon Swaine attempted to ask the former prime minister, who is at the United Nations in New York, about the row. But as this video shows. He did not want to answer.


So how is the mood down here in Brighton? My Huffington Post colleague Mehdi describes it as "flat". He adds: "The fringe isn't fizzing; delegates aren't delighted. MPs mutter about a lack of leadership and vision and are far from proactive in heaping praise on the two Eds, Messrs Miliband and Balls. The mood is downbeat, after a summer of negative headlines, Miliband missteps and a glimmer of an economic recovery. This isn't a party whose members seem excited about the fact that it is the bookies' favourite to win power in less than 20 months time. There is no buzz in Brighton."

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR...: LISTEN: To Ed Balls' Gordon Brown Impression


Ed Balls could not have sounded more sceptical about HS2 yesterday. Both in his speech in the conference hall and in a fringe event later in the evening, the shadow chancellor sounded as if he wanted to kill the project there and then. Perhaps the only thing stopping him was Ed Miliband, with The Sun reporting the Labour leader is not ready to ditch the massive infrastructure project.


President Barack Obama says he hasn't had a smoke in years – thanks in no small part to first lady Michelle Obama.

Obama was chatting privately with a U.N. official Monday and said he hoped the official had quit smoking. The exchange was caught on camera and aired on CNN. After the official appeared to ask Obama about his own cigarette use, Obama said he hadn't had a cigarette in probably six years. He added, with a broad grin, "That's because I'm scared of my wife."


Rachel Sylvester in The Times: Ed is haunted by the ghosts of politics past

Janan Ganesh in The Financial Times: Miliband the dreamer needs Balls the pragmatist

Polly Toynbee in The Guardian: It was Iron Balls' best shot, but will Tory scare tactics win the day?

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