One of the big problems that Miliband and his team have wrestled with in recent months is getting “cut through”. Too many speeches made by the Labour leader have been released into the wild only to disappear from the public consciousness as soon as Miliband left his central London podium.
In large part that’s because there were too many interventions – or at least too many with too little in them. Ed’s team are often keen to note that Miliband is an “ideas politician” which the more cruel amongst the commentariat might say is a poor alternative to being a “policies politician”. The vast majority of the public would prefer a strategy to improve their living standards to a speech analysing how they are squeezed. Similarly his speeches on an idea of nationhood and identity would have livened up a lecture hall – but the public would prefer answers on immigration, housing and employment.
That’s why Miliband’s speech in Bedford last week was a success, and why – rarely for one of Ed’s interventions – the papers are still talking about it. This morning columns in the Mirror and the Times are devoted the issues it raised. Yesterday Boris Johnson rattled off a poorly informed rant about it. The same has been the case for the past five days.
The next stage of course is to roll out a series of policies across a range of areas – perhaps along the lines of those Jon Cruddas suggested would be worked on by July – with the aim of overturning the Tory lead on the economy. More importantly than that, Labour needs to build on the 10p tax announcement, move beyond “too far too fast” and set out a positive alternative for what Britain – and the British economy – would look like under a Labour government.
The Labour Party was right on Osborne’s growth failure. Now – crucially – we need to be right on the recovery. If we do that, Ed Miliband can get used to stories that get cut through in the media and with the public. If we don’t, the party can get used to opposition.
But for now, lets celebrate that a Miliband speech given outside of conference season is still getting attention, and serious thought, once the press have filtered out of the room and the podium has been packed away. It might mean that he’s being taken seriously as a potential future Prime Minister, at last.