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Ed Balls: 4G revenue 'to kick-start economy'

Ed Balls (left) goes through his speech with Ed Miliband at their conference hotel in Manchester Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

The proceeds of selling off 4G mobile phone licences should be used to "kick-start the economy" by building 100,000 affordable homes and a tax break for first-time buyers, shadow chancellor Ed Balls will say.

But he will put pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to ease his austerity programme by using the expected £3-£4 billion windfall from the sell-off next year of the superfast internet spectrum to boost the housing market and construction jobs.

  1. Tom Bradby

Labour's Ed Miliband still has questions to answer

The truth is Ed Miliband has to do quite a lot more to convince the country he can be a future Prime Minister.

But let's cast our minds back to a year ago - he was not in a great state then and neither was the Labour Party.

He was only just ahead in the polls despite things apparently being very in their favour at the time.

Things are a little different now.

Labour are 10 points ahead in the polls and a lot of people in Westminster feel he has had a pretty good year in all kinds of ways.

The trouble is that has not really translated to him personally.

If you were looking at them both as brands, the Labour Party is in pretty good shape.

It has detoxified itself pretty quickly after the last election.

People still view it relatively positively, although there are still doubts about it on the question of public finances.

But if you talk about Ed Miliband as a brand it is still one that people don't know.

To the extent that they do know it, they don't like it.

I think he has got a problem there.

He needs to fill in what he is about.

He has been talking about the 50p tax rate.

We think he was promising to reintroduce it.

And there are many questions like that he needs to answer.


Payday lenders branded 'vultures'

Ed Miliband. Credit: PA

Companies which charge massive interest rates for payday loans have been branded "vultures" by David Miliband.

The leader of the Labour party was speaking after hearing Labour MP and anti-loan shark campaigner Stella Creasy condemn football clubs Blackpool and Hearts and Ant & Dec's Red or Black for accepting sponsorship from loan firm Wonga.

Mr Miliband said that he regarded it as "totally shocking" that firms were demanding four-figure interest rates from people struggling to make ends meet.

  1. Chris Ship

Labour identify weakness to better connect with voters

It's clear the Labour party has identified some weak spots and they are starting at the very top with the leader.

The Conservatives were quite mischievous this weekend when they released some of their polling data which showed that David Miliband would have been more popular than Ed Miliband.

The wider point is that the party admits that Ed Miliband does not connect with voters in the way they may have hoped.

That is why you have seen these announcements.

Not only on the top rate of income tax, but also coming down hard on the banks.

Yesterday he said he would do the same thing with the utility firms.

That's all about giving the message to voters: 'Yes that is me. Ed Miliband. I am on your side'.

Labour to harness Barack Obama grass roots network

The US community organiser who trained a Barack Obama will help Labour develop its own network of activists.

Arnie Graf, who has already done work with Labour, will spend 2013 offering training to local constituency parties.

Deputy chair Tom Watson told delegates at the Labour conference in Manchester: "Community organising isn't new and it isn't rocket science but it does work and we are committed to helping you to make it work in your own constituencies.

"Arnie is an experienced community organiser from America. He's also the guy that trained Barack Obama in community organising."

Government should 'back gay marriage'

Yvette Cooper addressing the Labour Party conference Credit: PA

The coalition must not listen to the Tory right-wing and throw plans to introduce same-sex marriage into the long grass, shadow equalities minister Yvette Cooper said.

At the Labour party conference in Manchester, Ms Cooper said: "We can build a fairer society, we have done it before.

"We mustn't chuck this into the long grass because of an obsession of the Tory right. People who love each other want to get married. We shouldn't discriminate, we should celebrate.

"It is time to change the law now."

She said religious leaders who backed the coalition's plans must receive political support.

She also attacked critics who claimed to support religious freedom but were opposing the rights of others to hold gay marriages.


Labour Conference speaker: 'People tattoo with advertising' because of market pressure

Ed Miliband hoped to make Labour the ideas party as he introduced Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel.

Prof Sandel was the star guest at the Labour Party conference, setting out his theories about the impact of markets on society.

Prof Sandel used examples including people who allow themselves to be tattooed with advertising to explain how social conventions were being eroded as a result of market pressure.

He said: "We have drifted from having market economies to becoming a market society.

"The difference is this: a market economy is a tool, a valuable and effective tool, for organising productive activity.

"Market economies have brought prosperity and affluence to countries around the globe.

"A market society is different. A market society is a place where almost everything is up for sale, it's a way of life in which market thinking and market values reach in to domains of life previously governed by non-market values."

Labour's silent tribute after death of former minister

Labour Party Conference delegates in Manchester stood for a minute's silence in memory of former Labour energy minister Malcolm Wicks, who has died at 65.

Maggie Mansell, chairwoman of the Croydon North Constituency Labour Party, said: "Malcolm was a leader.

"He inspired everyone who worked with him to do their best and then do better.

"Malcolm was first and foremost a family man... we want to give them time as a family to feel their loss."

Chuka Umunna avoids leadership question

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna. Credit: PA

Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has declined to rule out a future Labour leadership battle.

During an event hosted by Channel 4 News at the Labour conference, he insisted it would be "arrogant" to say he would be the right man for the job but raised the prospect of there being a vacancy in "two or three years"' time.

The Streatham MP also said he was "ashamed" of how little the party paid its staff.

He argued Labour must be "pro-business and enterprise" as he defended the "dynamism" of the City.

When asked if he hoped to reach Labour's top job Mr Umunna said: "I feel so uncomfortable with these questions.

"I just think there is something very unhealthy about pre-supposing you alone would be the best person to make very big decisions involving life and death decisions for some people in this country at some point in the future."

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