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Ed Miliband’s big speech has got to be better than last year’s

September 28th, 2012

Henry G Manson looks forward to the next conference

A year ago Ed Miliband gave an alarming performance at Labour party conference. Even thinking about it is traumatic. The speech wasn’t very good, the delivery was worse, delegates booed Tony Blair’s name and the TV feed was lost for several minutes half-way through. All that was needed was for the set to collapse and there would have enough material for a new series of You’ve Been Framed. The conclusion of many was that this was not the next occupant of Downing Street.

Ed’s allies insist he’s been proven right and that his division of predator and producer interests. Perhaps. Either way it shouldn’t take the thick end of a year to win an argument of your own choosing. The fact is this year’s conference speech will have to be considerably better. It should be.

After a very wobbly six months after the conference Ed has steadied himself and as Mike says not looks more secure than other leaders. Consistent poll leads have killed off any short-term prospect of him being ditched. The Labour leader deserves some credit, however he has been aided by a number of unforced errors, mainly from one of the most politically inept Budgets in living memory.

The challenge this year for Ed Miliband is not to set out new philosophical territory or introduce new lingo. He really must resist the temptation. Some close to the leader have enthused at Bill Clinton’s focus on policy at his successful speech at the Democrat Convention suggesting there’s an overlooked demand from the public to hear the more detailed political diagnosis. But Clinton was able to pull this off because he, more than anyone else in the US, had earned the permission to be heard. It’s this Ed has to work on, starting now.

    A conference speech can do many things. This year Ed Miliband has to start looking and sounding like a real leader rather than a promising new Chief Executive of a pressure group.

To do that he should cash in some chips. The country might not be interested in Leveson, but they are interested in politicians who won’t kowtow to the powerful. His Shadow Cabinet might not have set the world alight, but they haven’t routinely offended sections of the electorate either. The Parliamentary Labour Party might be overly careful but at least it is united and has the scent of competence to it. These are shared enterprises, but Ed needs to take credit for them all. It’s what leaders do.

Most importantly Ed needs to really talk about the years to come and how we will ‘rebuild Britain’. Clinton’s election anthem ‘Don’t Stop’ is filled with a relentless focus on the future. Blair recognised that too. If the Labour leader wants to borrow one thing from Bill, he could do worse that listening to those lyrics. To have a big political future Ed Miliband will have to show he has answers for the future.

Henry G Manson