Ed Miliband’s conference speech has had a fair amount of criticism, but much has been about the man and not about the content. There’s no ducking the fact that he’s not the world’s greatest orator. His delivery is awkward, clumsy even, and he doesn’t have the charisma of a natural leader. Much of the criticism he receives is perhaps born of disappointment that he doesn’t meet our expectations? Yesterday, to have been distracted by the quality of his delivery would have been a mistake.
Behind talk about ‘values’ and inequality I detected an unexpressed vision of a more fraternal Britain. The callous individualism fostered by the Thatcher years has delivered a selfish, compassionless society that is deeply unhappy with itself.
Labour has an opportunity to find its soul again and reconnect with ‘the people’, not just its natural constituency, but everybody. But to do that he has to articulate a clear vision of a new, more ‘fraternal’ society. Yesterday, he made a good start.
Here are Peter Oborne’s comments on Ed Miliband’s speech:
In his speech to the Labour Conference, Ed Miliband is getting close to finding a language that speaks directly to the people of Britain. He is quite right to say that something hasn’t just gone wrong in the very bottom of society – it’s gone very wrong at the top as well.
There has been a culture of lawlessness among the very rich, among journalists and among parliamentarians just as much as on council estates, and Ed Miliband is being very bold in highlighting this. His speech is just as much a critique of the Blair-Brown years as it is of David Cameron, and what he is attempting to do is to articulate the anxiety of the squeezed people of middle Britain.
This is something which is consistent with Labour Party values, and speaks to the nation too. One of the essential tasks that any political leader faces is to find a voice, and while there are questions yet to be answered, Ed Miliband made a major step forward today.