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Miliband has joined battle with Cameron on ground he feels sure of in himself

Posted on 27 September 2011 | 6:09pm

Ed Miliband said he was going to be his own man, and follow his own instincts and his own values, which is surely the right approach for a leader. He was at his best today when he was passionate about where those instincts and values lay.

He had a core argument – that the political, financial, welfare and other systems had let good, decent people down, and needed to be changed.

He had a good line on himself – the outsider who is also an insider determined to break open the circles of power which all too often, and especially with Tories in government, narrow down to the few not the many.

To that extent it reminded me at times of Tony Blair’s ‘forces of conservatism’ speech, which was one of his best in my view, but from which we retreated somewhat after allowing our opponents to portray it as a criticism of anything pre-Blair.

Ed was alive to the possibility of a similar attack with regard to his section on business, which is why he was keen to emphasise a pro-business stance.

The right will feel he has opened up considerable ground for them to attack next week. He will feel that he is speaking to and for millions of people who genuinely do feel ‘the system’ is helping people at the top a lot more than everyone else. The argument will be an interesting one, and the impact both of the austerity package and the continuing economic turmoil mean it could easily find Ed on the right side, and David Cameron on the wrong side.

What his speech does is put out the framework of an argument that his opponents can attack and on which he can elaborate as the detailed policy positions for the next election are developed. I heard one commentator saying that he had not set out a prospectus for government. Nor did he need to. What he did was set out an argument with which he feels totally comfortable, and which he believes many people will support as it is played out across a Parliament.

  • John Hutchinson

    Thanks (again) Alastair, for this review. I missed the speech and I’ve found that much of the coverage I’ve so far heard has been tactical rather than strategic.

  • AC come off it, when you were TB’s spin Doctor you would never have allowed him to make that kind of speech, it plays in to the hands of the Conservative Party, they will argue with some justification that it plays to the base as they say in the US. When the BBC put the Shadow Cabinet on the spot when it came to different business that could fall in to the bad business view of EM they didn’t have a clue, its all left wing PR, that even the Guardian is not baying at the moment, also when did the Labour Party disown the poor and those without a job, are those that are out of work NOW have to justify why they have a Council House, if they are poor do they have to justify their benefits to EM, someone who has never go this hands dirty, only to stab his brother in the back. If Tony Blair had even though of giving that kind of speech you would have pulled the TV plug yourself. Also why was Labour booing the only leader who has own three elections, okay Iraq but what about loyalty or was Labour loyalty to Blair only PR. This was a speech for the left wing of the Guardian, not for a future PM.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Are we heading for a post-liberal age?
    Liberalism has ruled but financial crisis killed economic liberalism and the riots social liberalism.
    Social conservatism plus economic interventionism is now moving closer to the centre of politics.
    This new thinking includes “tough love”, less immigration and scepticism about globalisation and high finance.
    “Red Toryism” and “Blue Labour” are the key elements.
    Virtue and common good are important. So is family, tradition and community.
    Post-liberal age distances itself from Thatcherism and Blairism.
    Mutualisation of public services is the key.
    Ed Miliband wants to redefine the boundaries of British politics.
    Given the financial crisis caused by laisser faire capitalism, political centre will move leftward. Markets failed, and the state saved the day.
    The recklessness of banks must translate into a vote of confidence in social democracy. Unfortunately the Tory-led government has managed to portray the failure of unregulated market as crisis of public debt and government deficit.
    Much of the voters share the values of social democracy. They must now trust the centre-left on economy.
    The alternative to deep cuts is not more government borrowing and higher taxes. It is growth and jobs.
    Will Hutton can provide an alternative economic model. Moral economy based on fairness. Better balance between capital, labour, shareholder and citizens.
    The sort of capitalism first proposed by Tony Crosland in 1956 and used by Tony Blair must be abandoned in favour of social democratic model with growth as the main priority.
    New centre ground is around the squeezed middle which accounts for 80% of the electorate.
    Bad capitalism has failed. Better form of capitalism is needed.
    New agenda for Labour means economic credibility. The Purple Book by Blairites is right about decentralisation and the mutualisation, but otherwise consists of failed Tory policies.
    Only radical action will drag the economy from the brink.
    Labour´s task is to restore the social contract between public and state.
    There is insecurity in Middle Britain.
    The postwar consensus offered security to the vast majority. Now real wages are falling.
    Just 737 people control 80% of the world´s wealth.
    The security of welfare state and health service is not unaffordable, it is being looted from us.
    Labour must develop a new security deal and forget the demands of international finance.
    Goldman Sachs does not rule the world!

  • Gillian C.

    AC, I’m hoping you will kindly allow me to post a link to this must see video.

    It is a city trader being interviewed on BBC News 24.  With his take on the coming economic problems and also some good advice for us ordinary people about how we might safeguard our hard-earned savings.

  • Gillian C.

    I think Ed M did okay in his speech to conference this afternoon.  As you point out AC he doesn’t have to set out his entire agenda just yet.

    Sometimes I just wish the Labour Party would remeber how and why they came about in the first place. i.e. to represent the Trade Unions and the ordinary working man.

    It’s an almost impossible balancing act to carry off though, I would imagine.

  • Anonymous

    “Ed Miliband said he was going to be his own man, and follow his own instincts and his own values, which is surely the right approach for a leader…..He had a good line on himself – the outsider who is also an insider determined to break open the circles of power which all too often, and especially with Tories in government, narrow down to the few not the many.”
    I as one of very many was not so convinced – everyone says they are their own man -its not even an option, 
    And the only ways in which he stands out is by being negative in appearance and sound by comparison with his brother – yes its all good argument ground, – unfortunately if this is the William Hague opposition era – then Ed hasn’t the equipment to avoid the baseball cap and Yorkshire accent effect.
    I wish it wasn’t true – but it is.
    Appearances scuppered Kinnock and Hague – poor old Clement Atlee wouldn’t keep his deposit in this era…
    mad eyes and adenoidal voice are a huge handicap.

  • Tom

    Hi Alastair
    First of all want to thank you and the last labour government for making my life alot better(im 23) i recieved EMA and saw my school improve dramatically, big fan of labour so i just want to say thanks!
    On Ed miliband, I was hoping he would win the leadership, i think he comes across far more emotionally intelligent than most other politicians,he needs to keep hold of that.
    To be honest i didnt think his speech was great (his outsider line made him sound like a bit of a dodgey character) , he need’s to play to his strengths: Empathy, thoughtfulness and hope. He’s never going to out smarm cameron!    I agree with labours direction of travel and his analysis of where the country is but i worry that there’s too many people whispering in his ear advising him how to be(presentation wise) . Voters want a genuine person, now more than ever! Thats what i saw in Ed but im worried its being coached out of him. If he has the confidence to relax and be himself(not that i know him lol) i believe he’ll be really successfull, Its not often you see a politician who actually listens! He has the attributes to appeal to a massive percentage of the country but hes not an autocue politician, I really hope he trusts himself a bit more, because at times when u see that he cares what hes talking about, he comes across very powerfully! (not in an angry way but a commonsense way)

    Anyway great blog. Lets hope labour get back in as soon as possible as i cant stand this arrogant government.
    cheers, all the best.


  • ZintinW4

    I didn’t catch it live but have watched it on line. Whilst it was well crafted it was poorly delivered, sometimes garbled. At this stage in the process Ed needs to be creating a sense of excitement, some inspiration and to take the Tories apart. Instead we got a speech that was just too academic, too detached. Ed has to do better than this; with a fixed term Parliament he has time to do so.

  • Mark Liversedge

    I was dismayed to hear commentators decrying his lack of policy proposals when he was setting out a vision. You can’t win with some journos.

  • Rev Graeme Hancocks

    How can he come up with detailed policy annoucements with an election not due until 2015. He would eb a fool. I think he is much under estimated by his opponents. EM aint no fool and seems to have the nerve to play the long game.

  • david.gillon

    As a disabled benefit recipient I felt the speech was one long attack on us. Just as in the ‘I met a man’ speech, Ed returned time and time again to the theme that if you are dependent on benefits and can’t get off them then you are irresponsible and just as much to blame as the bankers for the state of the country. The Daily Mail readers this seemed to be targeted at are going to take it as one more confirmation that everyone on benefits is a fraud and the position of disabled people in society is going to spiral further downward.

    This Purnell/Unum construct that people who can’t get off benefits because they are too disabled to work are somehow the ones at fault is something that would shame the Tories, never mind Labour. Time to abandon it and admit the party got it tragically wrong over ESA.

  • Gkelly24

    Hi coming from Belfast I have a lot of respect and gratitude towards Labour and especially Tony Blair even though I have never had a chance to vote for them. I am however worried about the current direction of the Labour party. The public voted for them because they occupied the centre ground, there was concrete proof of Labour’s vision all around with new schools, hospitals, zero unemployment, shorter waiting lists etc etc. The Labour party has a lot to be proud of and should start reminding people of this. I am fed up listening to Labour politicians going on about how sorry they are! Ok, everyones sorry now can you please get over it and challenge the current government???
    Saying sorry may seem like an easy way to appease disgruntled voters but it isn’t going to help when you have to wait 18 months for a hip operation again, it isn’t going to help when you lose your EMI and it certainly won’t be any consolation when you’ve just lost your job due to this government’s austerity measures! So please, we know your sorry but remember why you won and learn from the mistakes but most importantly get on with it now! That lot have had over a years headstart!All that and I can’t even vote Labour! lol

  • Gilliebc

    Oh dear, there seems to be gremlins in the works of the link I posted earlier. The link wasn’t posted in it’s entirety.  Disqus maybe?

    I’d like to try again, if I may please AC?  If it doesn’t come up properly this time I can tell anyone who would like to watch this short video and it is well worth a watch imo it can be found quite easily on youtube as it is currently one of the most watched, with over 440,000 hits so far.

  • Mike

    I thought it was an excellent speech. It will, of course, get bashed by the Tory press but his genuine passion for a fairer society will eventually win through. As the Tories continue to grind this country into the dust his vision for Britain will gather support.

  • Gilliebc

    “Mutualisation of public services is the key”  If that means what I think it means, then I disagree Olli.

    If it means that for example our emergency services and even the NHS were to be part or entirely funded by Insurance companies then I can’t see it working.  If a poor family’s house caught on fire and they had no insurance cover, then the fire brigade would not attend.  Or, if someone was ill and needed treatment, they would be denied that treatment if they were not able to afford insurance.  If that’s what mutualisation means then I don’t like the sound of it.  Feel free to correct me anyone if they think my interpretation of mutualisation is incorrect.  Norman (Lord) Tebbit is also against this idea.

    “Goldman Sachs does not rule the world!”
     Yes they do.  Together with JP Morgan.  That’s the problem!

  • Dave Simons

    Ed Miliband has never been an outsider and, if I heard him correctly, he didn’t say he had. He was talking about his ‘heritage’ – his parents, who certainly were outsiders, though they came to a relatively-welcoming country at the right time. (Other East European Jews will correct me if I’m wrong about that, but though there was plenty of anti-Semitism in the UK  they were better off here than in Nazi Germany).The expression ‘I’m my own man’ made me cringe – I remember John Major saying the same thing when he was trying to distinguish himself from his predecessor. That was about twenty years ago – surely Ed rermembers it?

  • Anonymous

    The blog entry from Herr Goebbels is about how Ed M has to define himself & his arguments.
    Yet in this entry, Mr. Issakainen goes off on one of his economic theories. And it looks like he has now abandoned the Keynesian methods.
    As I said in a previously, this reminds me of the sheep in Orwell’s Animal Farm, bleating, “Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad”.


  • MicheleB

    Can’t reach that one Gbc.

    I can usually open Ehtch’s links OK, just as I can reopen my own (although that might be because mine are still in history/cookies with the source).

    Might start posting the link’s video titles instead …..

  • Ehtch

    It’s the “sell the family silver” mentality in recent decades that gets to me too, as Ed Miliband pointed out, especially with manufacting. When a manufacturing company is set up in this country in some region of the UK, within a few years they mostly either close down, move abroad or even move to another region of the UK, cherry-picking regional grants as part of their company economics and book-balancing. Quite a dysfunctional way of carrying you would sensibly think.

    Germany, France and Italy tend to be more protective and balanced in their approach to their manufacturing industry.

  • MicheleB

    Oh lookie, there it goes again, using the Jewish people’s torturer for a cheap insult on t’net.

    How very pathetic, try being peripatetic instead.

  • Ehtch

    Too right – Daily Mail is bumping their gums good and proper today, and completely missing the point with totally unbalanced reporting. Who cares if that young lad’s family, the young lad that did that speech that is, were once well off, before they hit hard times.

  • Chris lancashire

    Oh do come off it Mr Campbell, even you can’t make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear.
    So business will now be divided into good and bad companies – presumably by the new regulator OffBus – who will then tax the former less than the latter? Absolutel, total rubbish – you know it and so does the rest of the media.

    Carry on Ed, you’re doing a great job – for the Conservatives.

  • Janiete

    Ed didn’t attack genuine people who are unable to work but he did highlight a problem with some people who choose not to work and unfortunately they do exist.

    It’s important to distinguish between the two and to preserve the integrity of the welfare system. Abuses give ammunition to those on the right who don’t support the notion of welfare at all.

    I think he was right to include benefit abusers in groups who are taking but not giving back. But he didn’t overstate it as it’s a small element of financial loss to the exchequer, especially compared with tax avoidence/evasion. It is though a topic which resonates with the public and if we are to return to power we must address concerns such as this.

  • MicheleB

    Can’t understand what the Wail thinks it’s achieving with this garbage.

    A person isn’t responsible for the decisions their well-off parents might make for them, just as others aren’t to be treated as under-achievers if their parents are such, just as a well-off person who does support the state system shouldn’t be accused of taking from it when they don’t need to if they keep their kids in it.

    The boy has nailed his flag to the pole, he’s set himself up with his school colleagues, might even influence some of them and in the unlikely event he changes his politics in the future it is all within his rights.

    Sounds as if the family had equity in the repossessed house and have moved to a more affordable area to avoid such a nightmare in the future.  Good luck to them, whether any others of them share the chap’s politics or not.

  • Chris lancashire

    Absolute tosh. My manufacturing business has been in the same place for 70 years and I know of none of my competitors who would move five miles for a piddling state grant. The truth is that all manufacturing businesses in the UK are having to compete with low cost Far East imports. Your evident ignorance of real business is staggering.

  • Ehtch

    I am not talking about seventy year old companies. I am talking about new ventures that don’t seem to last that long for the reasons I gave. But of course, not all. And I think you totally missed my arguement, so who is ignorant? The whole western world had to deal with cheap far-east products, so why is our manfacturing base so small these days proprtionally compared to other western countries? Try answering that, please – educate me.

  • Dave Simons

    Have you been manufacturing one-line insults for seventy years? And you have competitors?

  • MicheleB

    Sssssh, don’t disturb the comfort of what must surely be an inherited ‘my’   🙂

  • Ehtch

    Chris Lanc, you seem to be full of smoke and mirrors with your comments. Are you a banker, self-interested, perchance?

    And am still awaiting a reply to my your reply. Show your colours my man, show how big your balls are.

  • Ehtch

    Thanks for backing me up Dave Simons. We really do not know who we are talking to online, and what whatever agenda they have got.

    Mine is just to get manufacturing industry increased in this country, that is all, all. And I have studied it’s decline, and the reasons for it are basically british south-eastern english dysfunctionally minded, the old establishment trying to hold on by their finger nails. What are they frightened of for gawds sake? They are insulting us – we are not going to burn them at the stake or put them up against a wall! What is wrong with them? We will look after then in their historical old age, for goodness sakes. I love my history of my part of the world, good bad and middling in understanding it, and how it is moving on now, but these people!

  • Ehtch

    Oh, sorry, I have re-read my post, and a song from early Thatcher 1980’s times, from a group in Sheffield of all places, you might be surprised, Human League, singing Hard Times, has come to mind, as they watch the melt of British Industry by the Thatcher Clan then with their funny peculiar ideas of building, I quote, “a new Britain”. My bleeding behind! The Tories were talking complete bollocks as they are doing now! And I will have to post it, because what comes from the streets is what we are… say no more,

  • Chris lancashire

    No, actually MicheleB, I bought it 10 years ago with the help of those awful Banks and Venture Capitalists, doubled the turnover, increased exports and “created” around 30 jobs. No, I didn’t inherit it – I started with nowt and grafted – so don’t jump to stupid conclusions.
    As for Ehtch – I have absolutely no idea why we have a smaller manufacturing base – is it? And by how much? If you can give me some figures I’d be delighted to discuss it with you.

  • MicheleB

    Yes, the ‘surely’ was a bad assumption; you were able to apply for and receive help from bankers also hoping to make some profit during the  legislature that you don’t appreciate.  Should I go all yoof-ful and say ‘My bad’?   WTH does that mean?

    Of course we have a smaller manufacturing base than we used to, I’m not about to look for figures for you.  It’s a given that our exports in hard goods have shrunk, we can’t compete with countries having little concern for workers’ rights.

    We all want bargains and some of us actually believe that international trade is the only way the poorer parts of the world can catch up. 

    I’m less concerned about imported goods than I am about the foreign companies pulling us all in for incredible bargains like Panettone @ 99p!   I arkse ya!  I don’t believe those companies pay proper tax here and I don’t think they obey employment laws.

  • Ehtch

    Figures are somewhere online no doubt, but I have better things to do with myself, Chris lanc. And don’t get me started by the dissolving of british farming by your mates, Banks and Venture capitalists. You sound like a golf-course clubhouse barfly at the 19th hole with a G n’ T in hand – are you? Don;’t take it personally by the way ,with your masonic mates and a slice of lemon…
    : )

  • Chris lancashire

    So in other words, you haven’t a clue.

  • Chris lancashire

    Actually MicheleB, we can and do compete with “countries having little concern for worker’s rights” if as I assume you do mean the Far East. It is difficult I grant you but we can and do do it.

    By the by has anybody else on here actually worked in the private sector?

  • Dave Simons

    Of course – I’ve worked in the private and public sectors, which is why I never swallow all this Tory crap about the inefficiency and waste of the public sector. I’ve seen more efficiency and cost-cutting in the public sector than I ever saw in the private sector. But then there are public sector and public sector, just as there are private sector and private sector, and you won’t find the ‘Daily Mail’ making much of a fuss about inefficiency and waste in the latter.
    Your question, by the way, reveals your mind-set admirably.

  • MicheleB

    Apart from a few years in the Civil Service after leaving school yep, I have worked decades in the private sector which is precisely why I make what some might deem supportive posts about it and about why it cannot compete (in some commodity areas) with other countries (many of which I have also worked in).

    Have you worked at all in the public sector?

  • MicheleB

    Actually, I’d like to add, CL, that it is pretty stupid of you (along with so many others) to ass-like presume that anyone supporting Labour must be someone in receipt of or in need of benefits.

    Excuse me if I’ve misunderstood the reek that you give off.

  • Ehtch

    like you.