Coming soon to a government near you? 'Barnett Plus'

Good afternoon from Manchester, home to the Premier League champions and final resting place of Robbie Savage's ponytail.

It is also home this week to the last Labour conference before a general election in which they hope to win power, a conference they hope to use to highlight manifesto commitments and showcase Ed Miliband as #PMdesignate to borrow a Peter Hain hashtag from Twitter.

So it's mildly annoying for Labour politicians to discover that the pesky hacks here want to talk about constitutional reform. Ed Miliband told Andrew Marr this morning that other issues mattered more to voters - he quoted Bill Clinton's "it's the economy, stupid".

Mr Miliband even gave the impression that the Barnett formula was not the main subject of conversation over breakfast in Primrose Hill.

No such luck on The Marr Show, where the Labour leader was questioned about his commitment to keep the Barnett formula, a "vow" that has not met with universal praise in Wales or in some parts of England.

This is what he said: "All the party leaders have said that we think the Barnett formula has served us well and should continue because it is oriented towards need."

He acknowledged there were injustices but said they applied to the English regions and said that as he understood it none of the main three parties was looking to change it.

It was the "oriented towards need" phrase that will have had the chattering classes spluttering into their skinny lattes. The formula is more widely seen as a population-based calculation that takes little account of need.

Over to Welsh Labour, who consistently argue that it leaves the Welsh government £300m a year worse off.

Shadow Welsh Secretary Owen Smith said Labour would seek to adjust the formula to benefit Wales, what he called "Barnett Plus" - which may sound like a vitamin supplement but may be easier to explain than the "Barnett floor".

He told me: "You need a 'Barnett Plus' solution for Wales. You need a way in which we address the shortfall for Wales - that £150 to £300 million shortfall that comes about, to do with population growth in Wales and public spending in England, and we've said very clearly - we will fill that gap.

"We haven't said exactly how we're going to do it, but people can rest assured in Wales that if we win in May next year we will fill the Barnett gap."