Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Miliband Talks of Change ...without Slip-Ups; Appeal to the Party: David Miliband Weilds a Banana Ahead of His Speech in Which He Urged Labour That the Tories Were Beatable

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Miliband Talks of Change ...without Slip-Ups; Appeal to the Party: David Miliband Weilds a Banana Ahead of His Speech in Which He Urged Labour That the Tories Were Beatable

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH, NICHOLAS CECIL, JACK LEFLEY

AFTER weeks of speculation about a possible move to oust the Prime Minister, David Milibands words were being watched carefully today by allies of Mr Brown for any signs of disloyalty or, indeed, any other sort of slip.

And Mr Miliband was clearly alive to this scrutiny. The Foreign Secretary decided to adopt the safest tactic for avoiding a potential banana skin on the run-up to the most important speech of his political career by keeping hold of it.

As he walked into the Manchester conference centre clutching his banana in the fashion of a handgun, one photog-rapher was prompted to plead: Dont shoot.

But in his highly anticipated speech to the party conference, Mr Miliband burnished his Labour leadership cre-dentials as he urged the party to end its defeatism and believe it can win the next general election.

He issued a rallying cry that David Camerons Tories were beatable if Labour proved it was the party of change. While careful to praise Gordon Brown in his speech, Mr Miliband made clear the party could turn round the polls by seizing every opportunity to argue for a fairer Britain.

He left open the question of his own ambitions, saying instead that any age of massive change needs leadership from the party of change.

From Britains performance at the Beijing Olympics to recent bans on cluster bombs to the bravery of UK troops in Afghanistan, he said the coun-try should be proud of its standing on the world stage. He stressed that a sim-ilar optimism should be transferred to Labours own hopes for the next election.

In his most personal speech to date, Mr Miliband set out his political credo with references to his fathers service in the Royal Navy in the war and his grandfathers arrival in Britain as a refugee.

He won a 52-second standing ovation but in a clear signal that the party rank and file were in no mood for dis-loyalty, the strongest applause in the entire speech came when Mr Miliband praised Mr Browns efforts to boost aid for Africa. …

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