Ed Miliband’s speech – the verdicts

October 2, 2012 4:27 pm

“Last night when I reported that Miliband would be doing his speech with no notes (which was, I think, a story we broke), I thought it was an unnecessary risk. But what an impressive feat it was. Ed managed to remain in full flow for over an hour, fluent, comfortable relaxed – the Ed Miliband people see in private but which has always struggled to translate into public. Behind a lectern he’s stiff and forced, but this “free range” speech suited his style far better – and was close to what I imagined last year when i said he should do an extended Q&A instead. But he pulled it off, so it was a good idea, and stylistically it undoubtedly worked. However, although there’s now more of a credible policy offer – and the vocational training, breaking up the banks, more houses to be built that we’ve had at this conference shouldn’t be underestimated – but I’m still not sure that I have a big ticket policy for the doorstep. But what we do have now is a narrative about what the Labour Party is for. A unifying force in British politics. He didn’t focus too much on telling his life story, he focussed instead on One Labour, One Britain, united with the Olympic spirit and the hundreds of years of progress behind us and ahead of us. And by stealing Disraeli, he put some tanks on Cameron’s lawn – reclaiming, in a way, the pre-Thatcherite post-war consensus. He also will have given the PM pause for thought – and perhaps last minute revisions – before his speech next week. Cameron will need to impress or he may suffer from the comparison.” - Mark Ferguson, Editor of LabourList

Clearly a hugely impressively delivered speech, reminiscent of his appearance at the 2008 Labour Conference. His campaign promised he’d “speak human”, something he has struggled to pull off as leader – but here it was. It was easy to imagine him as PM. ‘One Nation’ is a concept that can mean different things to different people – if it means taking on Britain’s grotesque inequalities, then good. He unequivocally promised to repeal the NHS Bill to deafening applause – we will play that clip on loop until the next Labour government does it. He highlighted unemployed people desperately looking for work that doesn’t exist, taking on the scrounger myth. He rightly argued that austerity was self-defeating because it sent borrowing hurtling. But when he talked about the impact of immigration, he failed to address the fact that wages have been declining above all because of weak trade unions, a non-living wage, and free market globalization. When he committed to make people work longer, to the Tories’ public sector pay cut, and not to reverse Tory cuts, the Conference hall rightly did not applause. There was still no coherent alternative to Tory austerity. We cannot leave that to the leadership – as a movement, it is for all of us to build.” – Owen Jones is a writer and columnist

“”Not quite Disraeli”… but probably the closest we get these days! An extraordinary tour d’horizon of Ed’s story, politics as faith, One Nation Britain – delivered in a tour d’force performance replete with humour, passion and his trademark cleverness. And it was a speech of a Leader ambitious not for a narrow technical victory or another coalition but of a great mandate from the whole country. This was the Ed familiar to so many of those who voted for him two years ago: big vision and smart policy matched by  a willingness to break a ton of rules about what ‘you aren’t allowed to do in politics’. Ed preached a big politics full of hope and fire. It was worthy of the moment our nation faces. And it will prove to media elites and voters alike that he is worthy of Number 10.” - Marcus Roberts is the Deputy General Secretary of the Fabian Society

“Passionate, articulate and free-flowing, that was the Ed I always knew was there. He even had some half decent jokes. This wasn’t the speech that told the country exactly what Labour would do, but it did articulate the spirit that Labour would govern in. If it was slightly too long, it was equally unclear what could have been cut. Key Labour themes of education, employment and the NHS made it feel like a revival meeting at times – but for once,  the necessary charismatic leader was there and preaching to his full abilities. Clearly the key message is that Labour are stealing the “one nation” mantle from the Tories for good and all. Excellent – frankly, it has always suited us better.” – Emma Burnell writes the Scarlet Standard blog

“”I thought it was one of the most important and impressive speeches I have seen in 20 years of attending annual conference. The delivery was engaging and brilliant given he didn’t use notes. The personal detail will help the public understand who Ed is and what motivates him. He very firmly removed the left’s tanks from his lawn by rejecting a return to Old Labour, emphasising that the south and squeezed middle are key components in a Labour victory, and making clear we are a One Nation party not one of sectional interests. The One Nation theme gives us an understandable 2 word appeal that attacks the Coalition’s record, sets out our vision and exposes how far Cameron has moved from the centre ground. And the policy content was radical and realistic, just the right amount of detail for this stage in the electoral cycle.” – Luke Akehurst is a councillor in Hackney and a member of Labour’s NEC

“Ed’s found his groove, and it turns out to have one nation under it. I loved it. That’s how to make a speech, Edstyle – chatty, conversational, personal, unashamedly geeky. My initial concerns that all we were going to hear was family stories and the overarching One Nation theme were dispelled as Ed built it up into policy areas: a focus on vocational education; a spot-on response to fears about immigration; and that assurance we needed about the NHS Act. There was no policy shopping list, but that’s for next year – this was the speech we needed right now.” – Grace Fletcher-Hackwood is a Labour councillor in Manchester

‘Well, what on earth was that?’ That’s how I started my review of Ed Miliband’s speech last year. This year, it’s ‘wow, how good was that?’ This is a leader transformed. And he’s looking the nation in eye – one nation – and saying ‘I am ready to lead.’ The one nation theme stepped daintily into the space vacated by David Cameron’s decision to pursue a politics of division rather than unity. He laid out a clear ‘faith’. He also spoke clearly to many constituencies of concern – including those who tentatively voted for Cameron – that he has sometimes left confused.  He reached into an honourable conservative tradition in order to reject Conservatism 2.012. At times there was John F Kennedy- ask not what your country. And the Obama of 2004 – not red and blue states but a United States – was there too. One nation is better than any of the previous ways Miliband has chosen to express his vision. And for all the rejection of New Labour there was something of the early Blair in this performance too. There were tough messages for both the public and private sectors. Vested interests were confronted. One nation labourism was definitive Blair in Opposition. Finally, from a personal standpoint, I have been waiting to hear a frontline politician express support for the ‘forgotten 50%’. Focus on high quality technical and vocational education is of national importance. It was time someone said it. Ed Miliband did. Criticisms of Miliband have focused on the language, the authority, and the lack of detail. He went quite a way to answering those concerns. Labour’s weaknesses do remain but this speech will have reminded people of its strengths.  Most importantly, this speech was addressed to the right audience. There were some goodies for those in the hall. But mostly, he projected this out of the conference hall. It will be interesting to see how this nation responds to this one nation call.” – Anthony Painter is a writer and critic

Views from elsewhere:

Unite’s Len McCluskey called it “a tour de force. It is the best speech from a Labour leader I have heard and it will offer genuine hope to voters.”

The Daily Mail’s Tim Shipman said Miliband has stolen Cameron’s clothes, saying “Ed Miliband has just pulled off something that few politicians achieve. He has cheered his party faithful, rewritten the conventional wisdom about himself and, I suspect, sent a tiny frisson of fear rippling through Downing Street.”

Over at the Spectator Fraser Nelson called it “a resounding success”.

Dan Hodges suggests that Miliband was missing policies, and says “Ed Miliband’s speech wasn’t light on charisma. It was light on content.”

The GMB’s Paul Kenny said “Ed Miliband is a conviction politician and a decent, truthful and honest man which is a nice change”

Hopi Sen says “Ed Miliband wasn’t setting out to colour between the lines. Not yet. Instead, he was trying to sell himself as a leader with a vision.”

  • Chilbaldi

    I like the One Nation theme – this is definitely something we can ride on from now until 2015. A real guiding narrative.

    Incidentally, Chuka Umunna MP first articulated the One Nation concept in a Labour context, back in 2010.

    • http://twitter.com/bencobley Ben Cobley

       Chuka Umunna wasn’t the first – Blair did so back in 1995 I believe.

    • Dave Postles

       I bet he wrote Sybil and Coningsby too.

      • aracataca

        Where’s your mate Alan Giles? 

        • AlanGiles

           And there you were the other day, Bill complaining that I personalised things. Something you never do.

          For what it is worth, I was engaged doing my voluntary work this afternoon and early evening, and I only heard the speech less than a n hour ago.

          It was certainly good (nice to see unlike Byrne he sees the unemployed as victims rather than naughty boys, lets hope Ed tears Byrne off a strip next time he gets up to his old tricks), I agree with the idea of giving more weight and importance to vocational qualifications.  There is little you could critisise, except, perhaps I would not have evoked the war had I not been born till 1968. He is not the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy Of Company B, but certainly this speech was his best effort so far.

          • Brumanuensis
          • AlanGiles

             Interesting piece, Brum.

            I think a psychologist would find Dan Hodges a fascinating study. When you read things like that, with it’s emphasis on battles and militeria , and then look at the website for the little part-time PR company he and his friend Hatwul run, complete with photographs of a would-be soldier in gas mask, it rather suggests two overgrown schoolboys playing at cowboys and Indians.

            Ed Miliband can take comfort from the knowledge that he is doing something right if he upsets Hodges to that degree.

    • Jeremy_Preece

      I was really pleased to hear “one nation” as I was afraid a couple of weeks ago that we were going to hear “pre-distribution”.

      The thing about one nation versus the “divide and rule” of the Tories is that it is a direct challenge to Cameron’s “we are all in this together”, which, as we know is totally hollow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

    I always believed Ed Milliband to be a very able person but had some nagging
    doubts about whether he would be able to would ever be able to break
    through and connect to “ordinary voters”, especially given that the
    hostility of much of the media. Those doubts were completely removed by
    this speech – articulate, humane, witty, charismatic and intelligent.
    He can  beat Cameron. He can be PM. No doubts now.

    Wonder how long it will be before the tory and central office trolls will get here to rubbish the speech and make it appear as if the entire nation is united in also thinking it rubbish? See they have been active elsewhere. Give them an hour.

  • rekrab

    One nation paternalism, invoking the spirit of Disraeli? a mixed message and how does a one nation leader fit in devolution? as a thorny spike, I’m reminded here of Mandelson’s  “Filthy rich quote” those at the top can continue to reap the benefits just as long as they pay a bit more to help those in the middle while those at the bottom continue to be lost and forgotten. Sometimes I really think some have painted their ears on?

    • PeterBarnard

      Certainly, I didn’t take a paternalism message from the speech, Derek.

      I think that the idea of a good vocational education to the age of 18, with (i) the inclusion of English and mathematics, and (ii) a qualification that is respected by employers (they will be invited to take part in the process, so that they can’t bitch and moan afterwards about the quality of education of young people) is excellent, and is the opposite of forgetting about those at the bottom : it may not be “equality of opportunity,” but it is surely intended to extend opportunity.

      Devolution isn’t separation. EdM was quite emphatic that he regards a “one nation” United Kingdom as including Scotland. The Scottish people will decide in 2014 which way they wish to go … personally, I hope that they (and you) decide to stay inside, as it were.

      It was a very broad brush speech, but I think that it indicated (please forgive the cliche) a very positive “direction of travel,” and this is sufficiently open so that detailed policies may be developed on the theme of “one nation.”

      I think that Clem would have nodded his head as an indication of approval. I think that you know me well enough, through these pages on LL, that (from me), this is praise indeed.

      We will have to wait and see …

      • rekrab

        I dunno @Peter? it could be nothing more than an extension of the old YTS schemes, wrapped in a tidy bow of education where those vocational trips are in reality akin to nothing more than poor practices.I didn’t here Ed say that it would be followed by technical colleges? The problem with the 50p top rate was the inability to collect it, I still think Clem would have preferred   the notion of redistribution and the common ground that all have the chance to earn a fair days pay for a fair days work, seems like Ed is only suggesting paternalism with an add speck of responsibility.For sure it’s all a little grey and the wait and see is about where we are, my fear is that a returned labour government will be no better than the last new labour government and I see that as a problem.

        • PeterBarnard

          I think that we’ll have to agree to disagree, Derek – and : wait and see. I hope that you are wrong!

          • rekrab

            Agreed @Peter
              I hope I am wrong. looking at the article and the wide responses from various groups it seems that the one nation repeated message seems to have been generally accepted and that in a sensible democracy, a responsible government should be representative of all but again I forward my thoughts that the rub is, we remain in an impartial nation , where parity of pay and living conditions are unchanged and the status quo of the old becomes the status quo of tomorrow with reflection of a one nation conservatism agenda. Is council tax a fair taxation? when it’s based on property rather than income.Are wage freezes more difficult for those on lower pay than those on higher pay?Will educational attainment be improved by the free school option? and do tuition fees make further education more accessible and equal?

  • http://www.robbiescott.com/ Robbie Scott

    Why do we have to do all the self aggrandising it was a speech and will be chip paper tomorrow. I really find the ‘this was the best speech ever’ type comments a bit pointless. I liked the stuff on the NHS the education 50% stuff was good too but i would have liked to see  an alternative to free schools / a new way of revitalising comprehensives. Not sure if ‘one nation’ is a soundbite or whether it was meant as a Labour version of One Nation Conservatism if the latter it’s a bit like the Blue Labour Glasman like stuff which I wasn’t too keen on. Anyway pretty good end to conference .

    • Jeremy_Preece

      Okay Robbie – I would like to step up with qualified praise.
      Ed Milliband without doubt delivered the best speech and best performance that I have ever winessed from him. He really shifted up several gears.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Dan.Filson Daniel Filson

        Best speech from Ed, that’s for sure but not really that demanding of a benchmark. The thing is that if you remember Harold Wilson, he did not on succeeding Hugh Gaitskell set out what drove him, what were his personal values. He went fairly soon into “the white heat of the technological revolution” , a speech that was more about how he wanted to be seen than what he actually was; and had the virtue of putting aside the disputes between the Gaitskellite and Bevanite wings of the party. When Jim Callaghan succeeded, directly into the post of PM as Gordon Brown was to do fourty years later, we all knew how desperately poor his family had been when he was a child. We knew where he came from. When Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock succeeded, we knew their values as they wore them on their sleeves. We acquired John Smith and frankly knew little of him than that he was a Scottish lawyer. It is a pity we did not know more of him or seek to establish his core values, as the failure to do so paved the way for his successor of whom we knew even less. A man in Parliament for less years than any of his predecessors, we got a pig in a poke and as it happens he brought us electoral success but at a price (in my opinion). So it is right that we need to know who Ed really is and what his core values

      • http://www.facebook.com/Dan.Filson Daniel Filson

        Best speech from Ed, that’s for sure but not really that demanding of a benchmark. The thing is that if you remember Harold Wilson, he did not on succeeding Hugh Gaitskell set out what drove him, what were his personal values. He went fairly soon into “the white heat of the technological revolution” , a speech that was more about how he wanted to be seen than what he actually was; and had the virtue of putting aside the disputes between the Gaitskellite and Bevanite wings of the party. When Jim Callaghan succeeded, directly into the post of PM as Gordon Brown was to do fourty years later, we all knew how desperately poor his family had been when he was a child. We knew where he came from. When Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock succeeded, we knew their values as they wore them on their sleeves. We acquired John Smith and frankly knew little of him than that he was a Scottish lawyer. It is a pity we did not know more of him or seek to establish his core values, as the failure to do so paved the way for his successor of whom we knew even less. A man in Parliament for less years than any of his predecessors, we got a pig in a poke and as it happens he brought us electoral success but at a price (in my opinion). So it is right that we need to know who Ed really is and what his core values

        • Hugh

          “a speech that was more about how he wanted to be seen than what he actually was”

          That’s exactly what Ed’s speech was. You’d be forgiven for missing it, but Ed is not an immigrant, strict head teacher, anti-apartheid campaigner, failed job seeker or any of the other people whose stories he co-opted. In all likelihood he didn’t even choose to  go to a comprehensive school – it was a choice made for him.

          Ed’s choices: Go to Oxford to study PPE, then LSE, take a job in TV journalism, go into politics and policy, take a sabbatical at Harvard; become and MP; demonstrate sufficiently  loyalty to be made a minister; run for leader. None of which seemed to really feature in the speech; all of which tell you a hell of a lot more about him than the fact his parents were immigrants and where he went to school.

  • http://twitter.com/youngian67 Ian Young

    Delighted to hear a serious commitment to greater apprenticeships and vocational education. Much of the resentment about immigration was not about racism but why more school leavers could not get the same skills training as young Poles. 

    • Daniel Speight

      Or that the training was not available because of the EU migration of  skilled labour to Britain?

  • Pingback: One Nation Labourism – a challenge just to the country? » 21stCenturyFix.org.uk

  • http://twitter.com/Ceilidhann Kayleigh Anne

    Always knew he could do it. 

    Of course, now I really want Dinosaurs for Labour to be a real thing. Daniel Miliband is clearly a young man with big ideas.

  • Serbitar

    Not as bad as Sarah Tether…

  • MalcolmRedfellow

    Have you ever seen a more incompetent, hopeless, out-of-touch, U-turning, pledge-breaking, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower than this Prime Minister and this Government?
    I’d like that on a tee-shirt, please.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JP42QNYATVR2UKDJIUXUEV6RNY Michael

    Ed’s speech to conference today showed why he has been so feared by the Tories ever since he was elected Leader.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JP42QNYATVR2UKDJIUXUEV6RNY Michael

    Ed’s speech to conference today showed why he has been so feared by the Tories ever since he was elected Leader.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JP42QNYATVR2UKDJIUXUEV6RNY Michael

    Ed’s speech to conference today showed why he has been so feared by the Tories ever since he was elected Leader.

  • http://twitter.com/Dancing_Pie Alex Griffiths

    By the standards of the clock it was lengthy and by the standards of policy it was somewhat bare, but in terms of what it needed to be, at this precise moment in time for our party, it was a fantastic example of why Ed Milliband is the man to lead the Labour movement.

    Ed cheered the party and gave us a guiding narrative that although having a past, had been pushed to the back. This was an eloquent and timely threading together of the eclectic Labour narrative delivered at the right moment for the membership and delivered in the right way for the only other people who watch conference, the media.

    I think the man deserves a drink this evening and it’s to us, over the coming months up to 2015 to fill this party with the substance and the ideas to truly deliver on those principles.

  • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

    Excellent speech. Far superior to anything from a Labour leader since my speech listening days began, back in the 70s.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    I checked that it really was Ed M making the speech as I watched it on live TV. I said that I would watch with an open mind, in spite of having very serious misgivings so far.

    It was very much better than expected. My first impression was that someone had changed Ed’s batteries for some new ones. His whole manner appeared open, fluent and natural. In fact very different from the stilted and awkward appearances that I have seen before.

    This was of course all very high level stuff, but at last we do seem to have direction. Changing the batteries has also reulted in some better language. I was braced to witness en mass coma creeping in as “Pre-distribution” oozed through the hall, but instead “one nation” and all that the phrase invokes, sopunds like something that will pack a punch.
    We had some heavy duty statements about the NHS – an issue dear to people’s hearts, and we had a pro-business line expanded as pro investment and apprenticeship type of busines and anti the fast buck short term boardroom carpet baggers business.
     
    Overall the high level issue about old and new Labour seemed to have been addressed. Clearly we can’t go back to the 1980′s type of Labour nor throw away the great advances that were made by New Labour, even if New Labour needs some updating. One Nation actually sounds like something that could work.

    I am sure that David Cameron didn’t enjoy this speech, and that is what matters. His attck on the Tories was head on. I am also sure that a few LibDems squirmed as well.

    There are also some hints of very bad news for some. The millionairs are a good target, the implication that teachers and other public service employees who suffered an effective pay cut by having their salaries already frozen for two years will wonder about the point of voting at all. That bit was the downer.

    Overall this speech could actaully mark the drawing of the line under the void of any ideas of the last two years and the party emerging out of limbo.

    So a good speech, and a start that needs to be built on.

    • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

      “His whole manner appeared open, fluent and natural.”

      And I’d say it was more than appearance. I was pleased to note to complete absence of the Blair-like hand gestures which at one time were taken up by many within the PLP, giving the impression of an out-break of St Vitus Dance.

      • Daniel Speight

        Yes the ‘power thumbs’. Please stop doing it Labour politicians. Chuka?

        • AlanGiles

           I agree with you both Dave and Daniel. It seemed a more honest and real presentation – there was always, in the Blair years a sense of showbiz -  made-up to the nines,  the lights, the sequins, the powder, the rouge, lipstick, mascara….And that was only the stewards!. Enter Blair to raucous music and you had the feeling of a fading pop star who still believed it was 1975, and you were witnessing a dazzling performance, albeit an empty and vacuous one. Ed Miliband, to his credit, avoids such tawdry presentation.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Dan.Filson Daniel Filson

            The absence of relentless hand gestures was not just because he had been trained out of them, which I suspect had happened to some extent. It was also because he was relaxed and feeling self-confident. Some of Ed’s speeches are spoilt by his over-earnestness, a desperation to convince an audience. Here he was saying “this is me, and my values, I and my values are’t going to change so there it is” and he felt relaxed enough not to bash it home with endless hand-chopping etc.

            now he needs to get his hair cut shorter. We know he’s younger than smarmy Dave so he doesn’t need to show masses of hair to prove it. It would reduce the tendency for him to look like an earnest student. It would also remove that little distracting snip of grey hair he has which makes you wonder if he has just been emulsioning the ceiling.

  • PeterBarnard

     What is the point of Dan Hodges?

    • Dave Postles

      Can you use him as a pencil?

      • PeterBarnard

        Nah, Dave P : he’s already worn out (in any meaningful sense, that is).

      • Alexwilliamz

        A broken pencil?

      • http://www.facebook.com/Dan.Filson Daniel Filson

        Why has this thread got diverted into debate about Dan Hodges, whoever he is? The thread is about reactions in the media to Ed’s speech. To me it was very effective at conveying the background and values of Ed, and how these values would steer his development of policy in a Labour government. Quite rightly it was not detailed on policy, as he doesn’t know, indeed nobody knows, quite what mess he will inherit from the Tories. What came across very clearly was his passion not just for those who get to university but also those who don’t, an often neglected cohort vital to the national wealth and also as individual people. I did think the speech sagged slightly at the end when he tried to get into peroration mode (I.e. when he tried to get his speech back into conventional speech structure) but the rest flowed with a surprising degree of self-confidence and relaxedness

        • PeterBarnard

          Blame me, Daniel F, (“guilty, m’Lud”) about the diversion towards the subject of Dan Hodges.

          However, his name does appear in the article as one of those supplying a “verdict.”

          I do agree with what you say about those who don’t go to university (and made the point two days ago in response to “rekrab” below).

          I am concerned, however, that some Labour politicians (Jacqui Smith, for example, on Daily Politics yesterday are interpreting EdM’s message as “targeting the centre,” when “One Nation,” by definition, is all-inclusive and applies to everyone, from “top to bottom.”

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      The point of Dan Hodges is surely that he has a platform (D Telegraph) from which he reaches lots of not necessarily Labour voters.  His message may not be very palatable to many on LL (although I find it quite amenable, and often persuasive), but it does reach out to a large audience who have votes.

      In contrast to that, I’m not sure that anyone who contributes to LL either as a poster or as a post commenter has anything like the “reach”.

      It is a separate and valid question as to whether Dan Hodges retains the right to comment from a Labour perspective (is he “accredited” by the party to do so?  Has he the support of the majority of the party in doing so)?  Probably not in both cases, but the modern media world moves quickly, and he has been given a platform.  It is the same with Owen Jones, who to my mind writes nonsense, but he has a media presence that you cannot ignore. So if this is the reality, what should the response be? It is probably inadequate for many to decry his writing and opinion, if that decrying is done on a small little website to which the overwhelming majority of people in Britain do not visit.

      Actually, I like Dan Hodges’ pieces, but I appreciate many do not.

      • PeterBarnard

        Jaime,

        Dan Hodges is a scribe who, at present, does diddly-squat to add to general prosperity nor understanding of social or economic affairs. He is certainly not open-minded (for example, read Philip Stephens in the FT, then read DH – you’ll soon see the difference). He is a parasite on the political process.

        At one point in his life (I don’t know), he may have done something actually useful, eg he may have been a bricklayer, welder or plumber. At present, his usefulness is a bit less than the cube root of f***-all.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          Well, Peter, your central charge (doing “diddly-squat” to adding to general prosperity or understanding of social or economic affairs) is one that can be made at very many of us, including myself, Polly Toynbee’s little scribblings, Nick Robinson on the BBC, or dare I say it yourself – I’m quite sure that we’d both be indignant if such a charge was made…!)  But it is difficult to prove or disprove such a contention.

          I would look at it from the other end of the telescope.  As I happen to support his general thesis***, if his writing supports the election of a very centrist and Blairite Government again and indeed persuades an electorally significant number to vote for such, which I believe would be good for the country, then to my mind he has done more than “diddly-squat”, and certainly more than laying some bricks or piping.  But that effect is measured on a national scale, not in terms of houses built or bathrooms plumbed.  It is one of those “apples versus pears” comparisons.

          *** I have read a number of his articles, but probably not all, and of those, agreed with most.

          • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

            “what she preaches, most of which is nonsense.”

            Henry Root had it right with his estimation of Toynbee: Polly Twaddle.

            But on a another matter, Jaime, surely you have succumbed to some sort of a cognitive lapse when you associate a centrist position with Blairite governance?

            What is centrist about betraying the UK’s armed forces? What is centrist about cash for peerages? What is centrist about failing to address a housing crisis that besets almost every section of the population? What is centrist about compelling British citizens to carry ID cards? What is centrist about pandering to Murdoch? What is centrist about losing four million votes? And I could go on.

            Indeed, it was the continual and eventually unsustainable loss of votes that attests to Blair’s abandonment of central concerns.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I am sure I can succumb to cognitive lapses, Dave.  I think it is called middle age.  I found a grey hair in my eyebrow last weekend – how is this possible when you are only 47? ;) as I think the internet grammar goes.  I can still however run my 3 mile route in 18.5 minutes, but I cannot go faster.  I can also still do 8 miles in 52 minutes, which is near enough the same speed.  I am mono-speedic. But then, my only formal athletic and sporting training was in a rugby club, where I had a position as flanker. My job was to sometimes be quick, but mostly to be solid and to hit mostly smaller members of the other team with enough force to put them down, and ideally keep them down for several minutes. Rugby is much more nuanced these days.

            But to be more serious.  I think that Blair (pre-Iraq) found an unusual position.  He (and associates, spinners, focus groups, etc) identified what middle England wanted, and moved some parts of the Labour Party to there, and he reaped the reward.  He equally left behind many long term members and supporters of the Labour Party, who could argue all sorts of cases to not do so, but had no “sway” in the Labour Party of that time.

            I’m also not too sure about your contention of losing 4 million votes.  I do believe that a counter-view is relevant, that Blairism drew 4 million additional votes, but as he fell from power, those votes returned to the centre.  The mathematics is quite easy to do (although I have not) – a 3 election trailing average of Labour votes from 1945-2010 would give you a pretty good idea of the “Labour vote” as it evolves over time, and it would be equally easy and quite informative to graph that against the tory votes on a similar basis.

          • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

            “those votes returned to the centre. ”

            Ah, the centre-ground occupied by those that don’t/didn’t vote. That’s were I was after Iraq.

            P.S. Very good times re running, well done. You may find it useful to join your local club, if you haven’t already.

          • PeterBarnard

            Jaime,

            On Labour votes :

            In 1992, Labour received 11.56 million votes ;
            in 1997, Labour received 13.52 million votes ; in 2005, Labour received 9.55 million votes.

            Up 2 million in 1997 and down 4 million by 2005 : net loss of Labour votes under Mr Blair = 2 million.

            Labour lost another 0.9 million votes in 2010 (when 8.61 million voted for Labour).

          • robertcp

            Yes, comparing Labour’s vote in 2010 to 1992 makes more sense, because Labour lost both elections.  The effect of the New Labour era was to lose about 3 million votes.

          • PeterBarnard

            Just one point for the time being, Jaime – you and I express opinions on these pages, and neither of us receive so much as a sixpence for our views. 

            I have done my bit, engaged in works of engineering construction, for the general prosperity, just as you do your bit by attending to people who need (oftentimes, I guess) serious medical attention.

            Mr Hodges does receive a sixpence or two for writing his stuff in the Telegraph. However, unlike politicians, he is virtually faceless and, as far as I know, does not present himself to the public where his extremely one-sided views (“Tony Blair almost walks on water”) may be challenged.

            I don’t read the Guardian and have no view on Polly Toynbee.

          • AlanGiles

             Totally agree, Peter. Also, of course, all of us here have got whereever we have got by our own efforts. I sometimes get the uncomfortable impression that Mr Hodges is taken so seriously by some (but certainly not so much as he himself does) by virtue of the fact he is the son of a fairly well-loved politician, who also, of course, had a very succesful career elsewhere pre-politics, in which she was pre-eminent.

            Perhaps I am being unjust – but I have to admit I have an intense dislike of the “it’s not what you know but who you know” nepotism that pervades so much of political life.

            I don’t want paying for my occassional jazz reviews,  dips into the comedy archive, or the wise kindly advice I try to offer to a school student :-)  but perhaps Labour List could make a donation to the Dogs Trust if they are feeling generous  – they never put a healthy dog down, even if it is elderly, which ought to resonate well with Frank Field and Gerald Kaufmann.

          • PeterBarnard

            Thanks, AG. Until I looked it up after your comment, I did not know that Mr Hodges was the son of Glenda Jackson.

            Y’know, for a supposedly meritocratic party, I get the feeling that there is an awful lot of nepotism around.

            Mr Hodges must have found it hell working for GMB …

          • Hugh

            “I get the feeling that there is an awful lot of nepotism around.”

            With Blair’s son, Straw’s son and Harman’s son all apparently being lined up for seats  I don’t think that’s massively contentious.

          • PeterBarnard

            ” …apparently being lined up for seats …” sounds like gossip and hearsay. I don’t draw conclusions from gossip. 

            In addition, there is sufficient time  for the selection of parliamentary  prospective candidates to eliminate the need for any hanky-panky.

            Certainly, there would be no favours granted to any of the three that you mention in my CLP when the time comes. They would be in open competition, with all the members given due and adequate notice that the shortlisting and selection process is operational. 

          • Hugh

            I tend to draw conclusions from weighing the available evidence, including gossip. With politics I do so partly because it’s not always convenient to wait until an MPs memoirs to have the rumours (the Blair/Brown fighting, Brown’s temper etc) – furiously denied at the time – confirmed.

          • PeterBarnard

            Until evidence is tested, all it is, is allegation(s).

            That includes stuff that is placed in memoirs …

          • Hugh

             On that basis we would discount half of history.

          • AlanGiles

             I think the most outrageous example of recent times was the 2010 attempt at Erith & Thamesmead to foist 22 year old Georgia Gould, daughter of the late Philip on to the party. Having just come down from Oxbridge her only work experience had been a part time job at Uncle Tony’s Faith Foundation (which STILL sounds like a religous corset to me) I recall at the time she was being touted round by Tessa Jowell and Alistair Campbell, who, no doubt, would expect a similar favour in return. Though how you would sell an ex-sex mag writer, heavy drinking, dissembling, editor of dodgy dossiers, hard-swearing, depressive one-man show entertainer on to a CLP I don’t know. Yours wouldn’t buy him Peter, but I bet there are those who would to ingratiate themselves with head office!

          • PeterBarnard

            Never say never, AG … and sinners have been known to repent …

          • Brumanuensis

            Euan Blair won’t be selected unless Coventry North West CLP are suddenly overcome with a deep love for Geoffrey Robinson’s proteges. Geoffrey, of course, is still going to try, but his influence is somewhat limited in this regard.

          • Brumanuensis

            Personally, I find Toynbee boring and self-righteous. A sort of left-wing version of a certain blogger who periodically contributes to LabourList.

            The Telegraph has better writers than Hodges: his political commentary is inferior to Benedict Brogan, whilst for more interesting conservative analysis, Daniel Knowles, Peter Oborne, Charles Moore and (occasionally) Ed West*, exist. 

            *Yes, West’s views on immigration and ‘cultural Marxism’ are nuts, but he is capable of writing interesting things on other topics.

          • AlanGiles

             ” if his writing supports the election of a very centrist and Blairite
            Government again and indeed persuades an electorally significant number
            to vote for such, which I believe would be good for the country”

            Honestly, Jaime?: Unwinnable military adventures in foreign countries of which we know little, for which we are still paying both in human life and money,  the personal greed, avarice and vanity,  cronyism, sofa government, cash for peerages, Peter Mandelson, Alistair Campbell, the leader being seen as a lapdog to one of the most ignorant American Presidents, sashaying around accepting free holidays from ageing pop singers. A time when the gap between the richest and poorest in society grew at an enormous rate…….

            You seriously want a repeat of all that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    One Nation has always been our theme, it is about working together for the common cause, about being co-operative in the broader sense.

    You can not be selfish because that is only thinking of yourself not for the greater good.

    I have always supported Ed and when you get from McCluskey to Nelson praising him, he has grown up and now a serious contender.

    The Ed I saw at the hustings who captivated the Brummie audience I was part of.

    Lets get behind him, forget the stupid in fighting talk and win the bloody next election.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    Nice pot at Murdoch from Ed. One thing I can see is that “The Sun” and probably Sky News won’t be supporting Ed

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Graeme-Hancocks/1156294498 Graeme Hancocks

      Yes, I noticed that Sky news under reported the speech on 10 pm news. We had 25 minutes of missing child April Jones (not that that isnt important but they kept on repeating and repeating the same line) and 5 minutes on EM’s speech.  I had stopped watching Skynews some years ago. Tonight I remembered why. Very biased channel. I  can’t imagine it appearing on front page of the  Sun.

      • Hugh

        No it’s not on the front page of the Sun. But nor the front page of the Mail, Star, i, Express, Metro  or Telegraph (except as a minor item). It’s not the main story on the front of the Mirror either, which like the rest of them leadd with April Jones: because for their readers – as for most viewers of Sky News – that’s a much more interesting story.

  • http://twitter.com/DamianBuckley1 Damian Buckley

    I’m a huge fan of Tony Blair and an unrepentant New Labourite. I voted for David Miliband in the leadership election and thought that’s Ed’s victory would be costly for the party. I have criticised Ed on this site many times, pointing out in his early days as leader that he was hesitant in his speech, lacking in confidence, apparently indecisive, odd-looking, unable to connect with people, and possessed of a weird haircut and a tie collection that was better suited to a man who wanted to sell you a Vauxhall.

    Fortunately, I was always careful to preface such remarks with a disclaimer that I would be glad to see Ed prove me wrong. So I’m delighted that my early critique of Ed Miliband’s leadership currently lies in tatters.

    I first began to suspect I was wrong when he turned in competitive showings at PMQs. I rate Cameron very highly at what is essentially a bout of public-school debating, and I thought Ed would be despatched at the box with some ease. But immediately he was ballsy, and within weeks he was scoring direct hits on the PM. We’ve now reached the stage where Ed wins PMQs almost every time, with Cameron utterly unable to control his temper or his reddening complexion. Ed’s turned it into a walkover.

    Like his arch-critic John Rentoul, I scoffed at Ed’s speech last year and the predators v producers theme. I began to realise that I was wrong about that, too, when a profitable local business was bought by a hedge fund and had debt loaded onto it via an arcane process that served to maximise the speculators’ profit. The upshot was that a profitable business went bust and some bankrupt ones were artificially revived. Hmm. There might be something to this predator v producer distinction after all. Like his attacks on Murdoch and the banks, this was evidence that Ed is just bloody right about most of the controversial issues he’s spoken out on.

    Finally, there was Ed’s speech to conference today. I wasn’t there. I watched on the telly. But my easy assumption that Labour was a strong brand that was still slightly held back by a leader lacking in charisma was, to my pleasant surprise, exposed as utter foolishness. It was a speech of originality and substance delivered with panache and conviction. He had something to say, and it was worth hearing, and he said it really, really well.

    I still think Tony Blair was great, and I still think David Miliband would have been a superb leader of the Labour party. But I wouldn’t swap Ed Miliband for either of them now. 

    Bravo.

  • Attlee45

    All in all, Ed’s speech was a good one. Hopefully it can make a difference as to the publics’ perception of him. We now have two years and a bit to campaign to make him PM.
     To me, he has started to fulfil the promise I saw in him when I voted for him. His glaring mistake was to spend too much time talking about things other than Dinosaurs. Almost anything can be improved by Dinosaurs.
    http://clemthegem.wordpress.com

  • Brumanuensis

    I found it less interesting, content-wise, than last year’s much-maligned effort, although the delivery was significantly improved and he did an extraordinary job to speak for so long without notes. 

    It’s a bit depressing that the good reviews seem to centre on the fact that Miliband was fluent and ‘relaxed’, which probably says a lot about the state of both journalism and the country.

    • Brumanuensis

      In a sense, Miliband is suffering from the same syndrome as Dr Johnson’s woman preacher.

    • Hugh

       Nice to be able to agree with you. The praise for being able to deliver a good speech (although, I’d even disagree with that) regardless of its content is ridiculous.

  • Brumanuensis

    One thing I find rather troubling about this year’s conference is that Lamont and Byrne have both launched attacks on universality in the social security system. This is a fool’s errand, because as the BBC noted in their report on Demos’ recent poll on welfare conditionality (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19792066), public perceptions – particularly and alarmingly, among the young – have started to see social security as a form of charity. And as Clement Atlee so rightly noted back in the 1920s: 

    “In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways – they may be neglected, they may be cared for by the organised community as of right, or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community. The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice”.

    How appallingly prescient. Means-testing will accelerate this process and all for very few savings and an increase in bureaucracy. Is this really the future of welfare under a Labour government? After Miliband’s defence of child benefit, I thought he understood the importance of the universal principle.

  • Pingback: The real lesson of Ed Miliband’s speech is how much more Labour wants to win | Platform 10

  • Dave Postles

    ‘On that basis we would discount half of history’
    You might, but I could possibly comment.  Most historical ‘evidence’ is tendentious, mediated, rhetorical, incomplete, and a matter of interpretation, in which rumour, allegation, fear, and emotion have played an integral and substantive role.
    Paul Halsall will no doubt correct me if I am misrepresenting any aspect.

    • Hugh

      Yes, that was my point.

    • Hugh

      Yes, that was my point.

    • Brumanuensis

      For every accurate rumour, there are an almost infinite number of inaccurate ones, which not coincidentally are usually forgotten and therefore leave the accurate ones with a prominence that wasn’t always the case at the time.

      History, of course, is a matter of selecting relevant information and correcting for observational bias. Rumour is almost never a good source in itself, which is why it should never be relied upon. But if it complements established facts, then it can be a useful guide to understanding past behaviour – which was the case with Brown and Blair.

      • Hugh

        Some established facts: Euan Blair’s experience to date: interning for  French radio station and US Republicans and Democrats. MA at Yale. Then job at Morgan Stanley (where, by coincidence Jonathan Powell was an executive).

        Has now oddly decided on a career change, opting for work at an employment agency in Coventry, despite living in central London. Geoffrey Robinson the local MP is a pal of his dad’s.

        It might well be the case that those saying anonymously that he is being lined up for the seat are wrong, but there’s nothing particularly sophisticated, noble or intelligent in entirely discounting such “gossip”.

        After all, for every accurate “established fact” about Tony and Gordon – I’m supposing we’re allowed to consider the public declarations of those actually involved – at the time there were an almost infinite number of lies from both of them about how harmonious the relationship was.

        • Brumanuensis

          He might have got the job thanks to his connections, but that doesn’t imply he’s looking for a seat. It’s entirely plausible he’s sincere in his desire to work in something more publicly-spirited. It’s impossible to say at this point whether he is positioning himself, although even if he were, knowing the Labour Party in Coventry, I doubt they’d take kindly to the idea of a 28-year old being foisted upon them. In the absence of hard proof that it is his intention to be selected, I’m not going to assume anything about his intentions.

        • Brumanuensis

          He might have got the job thanks to his connections, but that doesn’t imply he’s looking for a seat. It’s entirely plausible he’s sincere in his desire to work in something more publicly-spirited. It’s impossible to say at this point whether he is positioning himself, although even if he were, knowing the Labour Party in Coventry, I doubt they’d take kindly to the idea of a 28-year old being foisted upon them. In the absence of hard proof that it is his intention to be selected, I’m not going to assume anything about his intentions.

        • Brumanuensis

          He might have got the job thanks to his connections, but that doesn’t imply he’s looking for a seat. It’s entirely plausible he’s sincere in his desire to work in something more publicly-spirited. It’s impossible to say at this point whether he is positioning himself, although even if he were, knowing the Labour Party in Coventry, I doubt they’d take kindly to the idea of a 28-year old being foisted upon them. In the absence of hard proof that it is his intention to be selected, I’m not going to assume anything about his intentions.

        • Brumanuensis

          He might have got the job thanks to his connections, but that doesn’t imply he’s looking for a seat. It’s entirely plausible he’s sincere in his desire to work in something more publicly-spirited. It’s impossible to say at this point whether he is positioning himself, although even if he were, knowing the Labour Party in Coventry, I doubt they’d take kindly to the idea of a 28-year old being foisted upon them. In the absence of hard proof that it is his intention to be selected, I’m not going to assume anything about his intentions.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZPXYLRVP4XOIGGDJWAL6HUO7U4 David

            I find myself wondering if the same latitude would be given to a rumour that was more politically expedient…

          • Brumanuensis

            Personally I don’t trust rumours of any political stripe. I seem to recall that it was widely assumed, in left-wing circles, that Osborne would cut the top rate to 40%, which was equally implausible.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZPXYLRVP4XOIGGDJWAL6HUO7U4 David

            Forgive me, but those fine words are belied by a quick scan back using the Disqus comment history to a comment you made recently regarding an article in the Daily Mail about a “mysterious” phone call from Captain Sir Alastair Aird to Conservative Central Office regarding a young David Cameron.

          • Brumanuensis

            That’s not a rumour, that’s a fact. The only aspect that’s subject to rumour is who made the call and I never speculated as to the identity of that person – unlike some.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZPXYLRVP4XOIGGDJWAL6HUO7U4 David

            Apologies: I stand corrected.

            LL does trade routinely in anti-Tory and anti-Lib Dem gossip where there is little factual basis, but mea culpa, that does not mean that prominent members must follow the same trend.

          • Brumanuensis

            No worries David, it was a fair contention to make and you were entitled to ask for proof.

            I am somewhat gratified to be considered a ‘prominent member’ of the LabourList commentating community.

          • Brumanuensis

            Of course, whether or not the intervention was helpful is another matter and on that point I can defer to Lord Lexden, the man who took the call:

            “SIR – David Cameron did not get his first job at the Conservative Research Department as the result of “an intervention from someone based at Buckingham Palace” (Mandrake, December 2).

            I took a telephone call from the Palace in June 1988, when David Cameron came for an interview. The voice on the line told me that the Conservative Party was very lucky that such an outstanding young man wanted to come and work for it.

            My interlocutor seemed far from happy at the prospect. This was, of course, at a time in Margaret Thatcher’s premiership when she had outspoken critics in Royal circles.If the aim was to help the candidate, the call was counterproductive. He had to overcome the suspicion and hostility that this curious intervention created.

            Only a singularly impressive performance in interview could remove them – and that he achieved.

            Lord Lexden
            Deputy Director, Conservative Research Department 1985-97
            London SW1″

          • Hugh

             Yes, well, as I said, it’s possible. Not sure if I’d stretch to plausible. Young, ambitious men with a demonstrable interest in politics don’t usually pack in their very well paying city job to take not a terribly high profile position in an area they don’t seem to have any connection with just to get their first job in recruitment.

            However, I never insisted that you should assume anything about his intentions, just that the basis for discounting rumours of this sort as a source of information isn’t terribly well founded.

          • PeterBarnard

            That’s exactly what you did, Hugh – “stretch to plausible.”

            Your comment (below) : “With Blair’s son, Straw’s son and Harman’s son all apparently being lined up for seats I don’t think that’s massively contentious” (in response to my remark that “I get the feeling that there is an awful lot of nepotism around.”)

          • Hugh

             I think you misunderstood. Given the evidence, I’d say it’s possible he’s not angling for a political job; but it’s much more likely – plausible – that he is.

        • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

          This is politics gone morbid. With Son of Straw chasing a seat in Lancashire, Son of Blair doing the same in Coventry and others waiting feverishly in the shadows, how long will it be before the entire Blairite cabinet achieves self-replication?

          Plus, I’ve just realised: a combination of the initials of all contending Blairite cabinet offspring can spell the phrase ‘zombies r us’. We should be concerned, very concerned.

  • Brumanuensis

    Today at conference was much better than yesterday, as I was most impressed with both Yvette Cooper and Sadiq Khan’s speeches, particularly Khan’s ideas on FOI. Burnham, as usual, gave a good account of himself, even if I remain sceptical that Labour will actually repeal the disaster that his the Health and Social Care Act.

  • http://twitter.com/ElliotBidgood Elliot Bidgood

    I’ll be honest- though I preferenced Ed over David on my ballot in 2010, I’ve spent quite alot of the last two years trying to remember why. This speech reminded me why. We might make a Prime Minister out of Ed yet.

Latest

  • News Chris Leslie rules out raising National Insurance to pay for social care

    Chris Leslie rules out raising National Insurance to pay for social care

    The possibility of Labour pledging a specific tax to raise money for NHS spending resurfaced this weekend, with Ed Miliband apparently believing that the NHS is going to be a major issue in 2015. The supposed likely tax rise would be in National Insurance, and this has raised some debate on LabourList this summer, with MP Frank Field supporting the idea, while Andrew Harrop and Adebusuyi Adeyemi have both warned against it. In a revealing interview with Progress magazine, Shadow Chief […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Free School Meals: let’s avoid the sour grapes

    Free School Meals: let’s avoid the sour grapes

    This time last year, the government announced that it would introduce free school meals for all infant school children before the next election. The policy had been endorsed by the School Food Plan commissioned by Gove. It was being championed by the Lib Dems and brought forward so it could be implemented before the 2015 election in what appeared to be a pre-conference deal between the coalition partners. This week 1.5million children in infant schools in England, including my six year […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Weekly survey: Crime commissioners, Douglas Carswell and Labour defections

    Weekly survey: Crime commissioners, Douglas Carswell and Labour defections

    The role of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) has been in the news lately, with the low turnout at the recent West Midlands by-election and the Rotherham abuse scandal becoming focussed on the refusal to quit by the South Yorkshire PCC Shaun Wright. LabourList reported this weekend that Labour are planning to abolish PCCs after the election next year. Should the role be discontinued? Or is there just a better way of making them work? The defection of Douglas Carswell […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It shouldn’t cost so much to be a candidate

    It shouldn’t cost so much to be a candidate

    I love the Labour party. I enjoy canvassing, I pay my subs, go to the various fundraising dinners and vote in National Executive Committee (NEC) elections. I, like many, hate the constant barrage of ‘please donate’ emails and fear the dreaded fundraising call. And if I feel like that, imagine the dread felt by a candidate when they receive such a call. Don’t believe that happens? Hard to believe as it is, on more than one occasion now I have […]

    Read more →
  • News Jim Murphy resumes “100 streets” referendum tour after nationalist abuse

    Jim Murphy resumes “100 streets” referendum tour after nationalist abuse

    Jim Murphy is resuming his soapbox street meetings tour of Scotland tomorrow, after suspending it last week in the face of increasing co-ordinated abuse by supporters of independence. These protests at Murphy’s open-air meetings came to the attention of the media (and the police) when the Shadow Defence Secretary was hit with eggs last week. In a blog for the Spectator this weekend, Murphy explains how the organised groups go beyond the “normal cut and thrust” of politics that the meetings […]

    Read more →