Last week in Brighton everything changed. I was there & saw it happen. Last week in Brighton, I watched Ed Miliband emerge from his chrysalis, open his wings and fly in glorious colour. Those present were energised with a new optimism. At last we were off. It was its own St Crispin's Day and those that were not there will forever "think themselves accurs'd".
Until then the Tories were busy regarding the lure of UKIP as their main worry. It was Where are the Labour policies? Guffaw, guffaw. Ed Miliband as PM? No way, snort, snort. But Labour has been through a serious and thorough period of consultation and discussion on policy and in this megafast-changing world, Labour has moved on from the past and has sprung into action for the future while the Tories are left jaw-dropped. They sense the danger. The hatchets are out.
The opening of the Tory conference in Manchester this week clearly revealed where they are in their own ideology and aspirations: groundhog day. There were extravagant eulogies to Margaret Thatcher repeated today in Cameron's leadership speech which was pretty much last year's speech. Maggie's ashes may have been buried but the heritage of her ruinous reign lingers on in her Party as does their firm belief in restoring the good old days before Labour and unions ever existed, those days of guaranteed struggle and hardship without rights for all but the rich.
Some Tories might well derive pleasure from flogging dead horses. The words "socialists" and "lefties" and "unions" are still regarded as enough to terrify the electorate into voting anything but Labour, but while they may continue to make Tories and Daily Mail readers see red there are many in the UK who are disgusted by such Tory terminology as "scroungers" and "strivers" and "ATOS" and "bedroom tax". The Tory Daily Mail incites hatred and mistrust every day against pensioners, the disabled, the unemployed, the poor, the non-British and others while promoting the "me, me me" values of Thatcher. Since events last week in Brighton, its 'journalism' has sunk from the gutter to the sewers with its spiteful, deliberately misleading character assassination of Ralph Miliband. But perhaps this will at last bring the Daily Mail to account. Today with the Tories it is divide and rule. Cameron began his conference speech approving "hard-working people", "married couples". Perhaps he should consider emulating his heroine's meaningless famous election victory pledge: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony". But harmony is not in David Cameron's manifesto.
While Labour listen, the Tories charge ruthlessly, arrogantly on, ignoring the opinions and advice of the experts, the experienced, of teachers on education, doctors and nurses on health, medical experts and social workers on the fitness to work of the severely disabled and profoundly ill, anyone who might give them sound advice. They either ignore or misjudge the opinion of a large part of the electorate who they seem to think just don't count. And most disturbing is their insidious social engineering, bedroom tax evictions leading to bed and breakfasts with no permanent address from which to vote, or moving people to homes out of a target constituency to improve the odds of electoral victory. And now Cameron proposes to axe housing benefit from the young unemployed. "Hurrah", crow the Daily Mail readers, but the political implications are sinister.
Only Labour is now fit for purpose. Labour's USP is that they genuinely see themselves as the people's party, the only party that can deliver a fair society, with hope and opportunity for all. They are there for the many not for the few. And Labour is listening and learning. They don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past because they believe in the future. There were many in Brighton returning to the fold, seeing the current Labour Party as their only hope, their only home. They were not disappointed.
The Tories should have won the 2010 elections with a landslide. Cameron ran the length and breadth of the country through the night like a headless chicken in shirtsleeves desperate to make everyone like him. He would be Prime Minister. If it didn't work then, how will it work now, especially with the Tories having to appeal to their own hard right who are doing more than flirting with UKIP. The Tories might rubbish Ed Miliband, but David Cameron has never had popular appeal.
It can no longer be said there's little difference between Labour and the Tories. They're now miles apart. The vulnerable are under attack from both Tory local and national government, portrayed as scroungers, suffering from cruel, ideology-led policies. We live with food banks and children going to school hungry, with a government that doesn't care. Labour is needed now more than I can ever remember. Last week Brighton rocked with Ed Miliband's repeated cry: "Britain can do better than this", and under his leadership we can and we will.