Why shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds' speech matters, writes Robert Peston

Anneliese Dodds spoke at a virtual Labour party conference. Credit: PA

The first big speech by shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds was highly significant for what it did not do - in that it was all about competence not ideology.

It had four main elements:

1) a need for government to subsidise those hundreds of thousands of people forced into part-time working by the virus.

2) for those whose industries in secular irreversible decline, a need to mount a massive national retraining programme

3) the imperative of avoiding a debt delinquency and default cliff edge for companies next March when their emergency Covid-19 loans from the Treasury become repayable

4) an urgent need to avoid waste in contracts awarded by the government.

None of this represents clear red water with the government of Boris Johnson.

Many Tory MPs would say it is eminently sensible. In other words, Dodds - like Sir Keir Starmer - is hoping to court voters from a platform of competence rather than socialism. At least for now.

It was sort of inevitable given that - from necessity rather than choice - Johnson and Rishi Sunak have spent more public money more rapidly in the past six months than any Labour government ever. And their splurge won’t be over till the virus is history.