Miliband’s conference speech 2012: Shadow cabinet reactions

Perhaps light-headed with relief that their leader has successfully negotiated his first conference speech delivered without notes, Ed Miliband's shadow Cabinet are in particularly effusive mode as they assess his performance…

JIM MURPHY, shadow defence secretary

"No-one can be left in any doubt that Ed Miliband's talking about if you work hard and play by the rules, you'll get on in the country he wants to lead. When people are annoyed that people who broke the rules at the very top, unleashed a change of events that left everyone affected – that's a really important, passionate point he made.

"Today was a speech about Ed Miliband himself, where he comes from – and where he wants to take the country. Not where he wants to take the Labour party. It's about how he wishes and determines to change the country – not ideological – just a good British dose of common sense."

MARIA EAGLE, shadow transport secretary

"He was talking to the country about the future and how to rebuild the country. He said he understood why people had put their trust in David Cameron but he said you should be disappointed, and he was right."

ANGELA EAGLE, shadow leader of the Commons

"We've just had a guy who's come out here and given a tour de force of a speech speaking to the country about values we need so we can rebuild our economy, our society, our politics and affect change in the interests of the people. It's not about attacking old Labour – it's about moving forwards and seeing what we need to do to make our country something we can be proud of again."

SADIQ KHAN, shadow justice secretary

"Ed summed up what we believe in: the fact that Disraeli said it is irrelevant. We believe we achieve much more by our common endeavours, we believe we achieve much more when we get together.

"It doesn't matter who comes up with the idea. We're not going to take on an idea because it's from a previous Tory leader. We've always believed in the union, so what Ed articulated today was his vision of the future which is positive." 

CAROLINE FLINT, shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary

"I think Labour's always been a one-nation party. We proved in 1997 we could reach out to all parts of Britain – we speak for the whole country, and too often when we're in difficult times the Conservatives end up with a divide and rule situation. That's what Ed's speaking to today.

"It's as much about being able to put across what his values are and what our values are under any policy we're asked to look at. I think today he's been a tour de force today – no notes, no lectern, no autocue. He did it for that amount of time – it was really impressive. I haven't heard better since Tony."

ANDY BURNHAM, shadow health secretary

"We're not just a party of the north – we're the true party of the United Kingdom. That's a very important message for the Labour party right now. We're not a sectional interest; we've got the national interest at heart.

"I think the shadow Cabinet was in awe and we sat and watched that consummate performance without those notes. I saw Ed Miliband in those hustings and saw the skill of Ed as an orator, so it doesn't surprise me, but he really has emerged today as a major figure in British politics.

MARGARET BECKETT, former foreign secretary

"If you think back from the day he became the leader, Ed Miliband has always said he was his own man and he would do things his own way. When I saw no screens, no lecterns, to be perfectly honest I was terrified! For your conference speech? I thought that was incredibly high-risk, but he absolutely nailed it.

 "We did a tremendous amount for poverty, for public services, but the equalities gap hasn't narrowed. Everybody recognises that is a criticism. You need to look at it afresh, and that's what he's saying.

"I thought it was brilliant and incredibly bold to hijack Disraeli for a Labour conference. It's something today's Tory party may speak about, but they clearly don't understand."