“..Here is the speech he could give:
“Conference, it’s traditional to begin with a dig at our opponents – often in the form of a slightly wince-worthy joke.
Something, perhaps, about how a famous American late-night TV show last week starred a guy called David who knows nothing about Britain or its history –
- and also David Letterman.
Or how Andrew Mitchell’s been taking Latin lessons from Boris: -
- trouble is, he can’t get past the word plebs.
That kind of thing.
“Next, there usually comes a gag seeking to defuse some simmering internal tension.
So here’s where I gesture towards Ed Balls and say, ‘We’re not next-door neighbours and we’re not brothers.
As Labour rivalries go, that counts as an improvement.’
“But I can hear you groaning and I don’t blame you.
These are serious times and I’m a serious person.
I couldn’t look into the camera, oozing sincerity, like Nick Clegg – and I couldn’t be a PR man for a rich TV company – like David Cameron.
What you’ve heard about me is true.
I’m the guy whose idea of holiday reading is a volume of political philosophy.
I’m interested in ideas.
And I don’t apologise for that.
Because if you want to know what a man with no interest in ideas looks like – look at David Cameron.
“I know that many of the people watching at home will feel as if they don’t yet know me.
You might have heard that my parents were Jewish refugees from the Nazis – two young people hounded out of a Europe that wanted people like them wiped out – but who found a haven right here in Britain.
That history lives on inside me – even if I’m only now coming to grips with what it means for me and for the young sons Justine and I are raising.
“But there’s more to my personal story than that.
I came of age in the era of Thatcherism – a time defined by the slogan, ‘There is no alternative’.
My parents, and the procession of activists and campaigners who sat round our kitchen table – refused to accept that.
They believed – and I learned – that there is always an alternative.
That another world is possible.
“So when I see our economy struggling to breathe – while the government says there is only plan A – no alternative – I won’t accept it.
Cutting the deficit is vital – but it has to be done at the right time – and in the right way – or else it will make things worse.
The evidence is all around us in Europe, in Greece, or in Spain: -
- austerity squeezes the life out of an economy at the very moment it needs more oxygen.
“George Osborne makes a fetish of cutting the deficit, but the joke – the cruel joke – is that he’s making the problem worse, not better.
The national debt has actually gone up by 25% in two years under the coalition – and we’ve borrowed more this year than we did last.
And it’s no wonder, because only growth puts money into the national coffers.
If that means short-term borrowing, so be it: after all, we’re borrowing anyway.
We can do it because, unlike the nations of the eurozone, we control our own currency – and can borrow cheaply.
And who do we have to thank for keeping us out of the euro?
Gordon Brown and, yes, Ed Balls.
You see, there is an alternative to plan A.
Another world is possible.
“No one disputes that the deficit is a problem, one that looms over our generation.
Once the economy is stable, we will have to deal with it.
Strange to think there was a time when the main task of politicians was to decide how to slice up the pie – what to give away.
Politics isn’t like that any more.
Which is why I started a debate last year about changing the economy itself.
“I spoke then about predators.
Today I want to tell you that the next Labour government will have zero tolerance of those who abuse the system to feed their own greed.
Those who rig the system, as in the Libor scandal, won’t get a slap on the wrists.
They’ll go to jail.
And I’ll implement the Vickers proposals in full, splitting the banks, separating casino from high street – and we won’t wait till 2019.
We’ll do it straightaway…”
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