A quick (for me) post on Ed Miliband’s speech.
As a fully paid up member of the Labour party (probably, I assume they take a direct debit, otherwise I’ve just been turning up at meetings like a homeless person scrounging free tea and biscuits) I think Ed Miliband’s speech to conference today (or yesterday depending if this post makes it before midnight) was probably the best thing he’s done since becoming leader, and was the perfect speech for the time and situation.
Let me be clear, (as Ed like’s to be*) the speech will do little overall towards achieving Ed and Labour’s two big objectives before the next election; restoring Labour’s credibility on the economy, and making Ed seem Priministerial. Party conferences are rarely viewed beyond the party membership and political types. And as the majority of paper’s front pages tomorrow are not on his speech it will likely not even filter down to the majority of people that his speech was even a success.
That said… it has put him in the best possible position to achieve the two goals in the remaining two and half years before the next election by doing the only thing such a speech could do; enthusing the party membership.
Let me be clear again, (his speech was such a success I’m taking tips from his speechwriter) this was no self-indulgent wallowing in lefty-liberalism. No signs of lurching to the left and just saying what we, or Len McCluskey, wanted to hear.
Rather, this was a speech setting out what positioning, policies, buzz words and message Ed wanted to take into the next election. And it was a speech which showed Ed was back to his Labour Leadership contest best. After all the dithering, the underperformance and the questions which were beginning to be made about whether Ed was the right person to take us into the next election, he stepped forwards, out of his shell and answered the critics with aplomb. He showed he was the leader we elected, not the one he’s been made out to be, and he finally brought forward the intelligence, skill and likeability that we knew he possessed, but thus far had failed to demonstrate with conviction.
Ed has shown why he should be leader, and we’re ready to show why Labour should be in government again. Now, when Labour party members talk to our friends and assorted acquaintances (the mailman, window cleaner, that guy down the road with a rotweiler who calls me ‘Les’ for some reason…) we will do so with enthusiasm about our leader. He will sound priministerial, likeable, honest and different from what came before and is on offer to the electorate now. When people say he can’t lead, we’ll point to his conference speech. And when it comes to the tough calls and times that undoubtedly will come in the next two years, we’ll cut him some slack.
We know what we’re fighting for now, and we know who we’re fighting for. If he holds up his end, we have a genuine shot at a general election victory in 2015. And that’s the biggest boost of all.
*Though he only said ‘let me be clear’ twice in the speech, he has said it a lot in the past. About half a dozen times or more in his Andrew Marr interview.