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The door is opening on a public hearing for Ed Miliband, which makes this a big week for Labour

Posted on 30 September 2012 | 1:09pm

I missed Ed Miliband on the Marr programme and so, as is increasingly the case these days, I rely on twitter for a sense of how it went. According to some, Marr was a tad tougher than he tends to be on the other leaders, whilst the general reaction to Ed seems to have been reasonably positive with a lot of support for a clear commitment to repeal the NHS Act, a fair bit of backing for his proposals on banking reform, and amid all the usual ‘geek’ comments, what also comes through is that he was energetic and passionate, which is good.

This is an important week for Labour, and especially for Ed. He knows, and is disarmingly frank about, the negative views that some continue to hold about him, and the view – which I have heard expressed by some at a wide range of events I have done in recent days – that he does not have what it takes to be Prime Minister. Equally however, I have heard some who wrote him off two years ago now saying they can imagine him winning.

There are two strong cards which play in his favour. One is David Cameron, who became PM in part because people felt like he looked the part, but whose ratings are now in fairly steady decline because beneath the slick act there appears to be little of substance. The second is that Ed, despite being written off by many in the early days, has shown a resilience and a calm which have enabled Labour to avoid the divisions we feared opening after defeat in 2010, and which have seen him now reach the point where people have to take seriously the prospect of him winning the next election.

That now opens the door to what he has to say about policy, which for all the focus on looks and personality in modern politics, is ultimately what matters. Last year, when he spoke of responsible capitalism and started a debate on ‘producers v predators,’ the instant judgement of the commentariat was that the speech was a lurch to the left, and would not connect with voters Labour needs to win back. But as the months passed, both Tory and Lib Dem ministers started to sense the appeal of the argument, and move into the same space.

The banking reforms which will be an important part of his speech on Tuesday are likely to provoke a strong reaction from right wing commentators and vested financial interests. But David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both talked the talk on banking reform, but walked in the opposite direction when decision time came. If Ed is stating his commitment to reform as unequivocally as he is stating his commitment on the NHS, again I would not be surprised if instant reaction goes against him, but a more settled reaction works in his favour.

It is not always easy for the Opposition to get noticed, and it’s even harder when there are not just one but two parties of government. But precisely because the prospect of this being a one term Tory government is a real one, this week the uncommitted will hopefully listen more closely than usual.

For party supporters, meanwhile, a few thoughts. Do NOT imagine that regular ten point leads now translate into an election win in three years. Polls reflect mood as much as intention and the mood surrounding the government is not great. Once policies are being spelled out which show what Labour can and would do differently,and which are being widely discussed in a way that we start to dominate the agenda, then I would hope the poll leads would widen further. What we must never ever do is be complacent because we are in the lead.

Second, now is the time for the shadow ministerial team to up its game and up its profile. Too few of them are well known to the public, and too few of them are making interventions which connect with the public. Every single one of them, not just Ed Miliband, must speak beyond the hall and into the country this week.

Third, save for a political crisis which brings the coalition to an end (still unlikely in my view) we know when the next election will be. It is two and a half years away. In the first half of this Parliament, Labour has shown it can be an Opposition again after a long time in power. Now we have to show we are an alternative government. That does not mean setting out every dot and comma of every policy. But it does mean signalling some very clear pointers, and my skim reading of twitter’s response to Marr tells me that is what Ed did this morning, so hopefully we will see plenty more in the days ahead.

— a few Manchester PS points … I did a tour of the National Football Museum yesterday. It really is a terrific example of a modern museum, and free. I was in a bit of a rush, but anyone with an interest in football could easily spend a whole day in there.

— I am looking forward to beng grilled by Dave Haslam at the Royal Exchange on life, times and addiction later today. I think the event is sold out but tomorrow’s event with Peter Mandelson and me discussing a new book about Philip Gould is open to all delegates, 1 pm, Manchester Central, Charter 1. Danny Finkelstein is in the chair and Peter and I will be discussing political purpose, friendship and the New Labour project. And much else besides I suspect.

  • Dom

    Ali. Im 25. How can I join the labour party and get a job working for it. I’ll do anything: canvas, make tea, clean, help online etc etc I’ve been non political all my life but now I know where my passion lies. I live in Manchester but can’t attend any of the events this week…I think. Any help or advice would be great. Thanks mate.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Red Ed?
    Government is unpopular. Living standards are falling.
    Labour needs swings of 4-5% to win in the south.
    No opposition ever won without at some point hitting a 20% lead.
    But rules have now changed as the Lib Dems face an election wipeout.
    More protest votes will come to Labour.
    40% of people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 now back Labour.
    Harold Wilson won in 1966 with a social democratic manifesto.
    The emergence of the Liberal party as a centrist force made it difficult for Labour to win a working majority.
    The 1981 SDP breakaway and Liberal/SDP Alliance made the split left problem worse.
    Thatcher and Major had a divided opposition.
    Tony Blair then moved Labour rightwards to attract floating Tory voters. But this alienated its core vote.
    Charles Kennedy´s leadership was to the left of Labour.
    Nick Clegg as a leader has signalled the end of the Lib Dems as a left-of-centre party.
    The rightwing vote is now split between the Tories, Lib Dems and Ukip.
    Left is united!
    Instead of the New Labour triangulation strategy Labour can now build genuine LEFT-OF-CENTRE policies appealing to traditional Labour voters and disappointed left-leaning ex-Lib Dems.
    68% of Britons rate the UK economy too harsh for workers and too generous for rich.
    Ed Miliband´s responsible capitalism based on fairness will end inequality and boost growth.
    It is a positive message for the future.
    Predistribution is an inspiring idea.
    Ed Miliband must learn from Bill Clinton and combine substantive detail with emotion.
    Cameron and Osborne are not embracing welfare state values. Their neoliberal austerity has failed totally.
    David Cameron claimed that more borrowing is out of question, but the national debt is going up by £600bn!
    People like Sir John Major say that there is light at the end of a tunnel. But that light belongs to an incoming train.
    According to Fitch, UK´s general government gross debt is 97%.
    A breach through the 100% barrier will trigger a downgrade.

  • Michele

    I’m not AC but local Labour party offices usually welcome volunteers, doing phone canvassing and leafletting etc, helping out at constituency surgery sessions etc.

  • redrugbyfan

    I noticed that the Mail’s website gave him yet another bad write up – I couldn’t finish reading it because it angered me so much.
    They’re the first to criticise the “beauty contest” which pervades modern politics but do their best to stoke it.

  • Richard

    Is Ed Miliband Numerate?
    He repeatedly refers to “Millionaires”, and his proposals for their taxation. Seemingly a millionaire is someone who earns a million pounds a year and who will contribute an extra £50,000 per annum in taxation under “New Extra Improved labour “. Catch a grip Ed. You are either being thick or divisive. A millionaire may earn £30,000 per annum and live in an inherited house in Lewisham.
    By persisting with such claptrap he proves he is unfit for office!

  • Gilliebc

    Oh gawd! Is Ed M. really the best leader that Labour can find to offer to the electorate as a prospective PM?
    Banking reforms – they, the all powerful bankers will never allow any real and meaningful reforms. They may well go along with some small tinkering at the edges, which would be ineffective and just for ‘show’ only.
    Most Tories seem to be defecting to UKIP.
    I could go on, but the state of our so-called democracy is too depressing for words and as such I and many others are not playing or colluding with this farce any longer.

  • reaguns

    I so want to like this article and to agree with it, but Alastair has went all Polly Toynbee, makes some good points, but then goe all partisan and one sided, making provably wrong claims.
    Ever since I started reading this column, Alastair has been saying that Cameron is on the slide. The implication has always been, yeah people used to like him, but they have found him out now. He was saying that 2 years ago and he is saying it now. I am sure spin doctors have a name for this manouvre.
    The closest we can get on this issue however to facts, are the polls. The polls say Labour is 10 points up. Some say no opposition got in without ever reaching 20 points up. But lets take 10 points as a good lead. The problem is Ed’s personal ratings have always been way behind Cameron’s, and way behind his party. Despite what Alastair says, there has been no change, no sudden realisation that Cameron is useless. Those of us who always thought he was useless still do, none of his flaws have become more obvious. For God’s sake hug a husky and hug a hoody were done in opposition, versus Blair! He has been on the up ever since, and stayed up.

  • Anonymous

    What I have heard so far seems quite balanced, with fair considerations to present day financial predicaments which ourselves, and near neighbours, are experiencing, which will last for about a decade, whether we like it or not.

    The demeaner too from almost all concerned there is nice to see. No throwing toys yet. Hope it continues to be balancingly refrensingly sensible, in touch with the reality.

    And what with France introducing a 75% top tax bracket, something like that needs suggesting, but not so high, it has to be done.

    And of course yes, tax avoidance via personal set up companies needs desperate attention. Why should the nations wealth be parked up somewhere overseas/CI/IOM? Doesn’t make sense these days. And that includes those large companies who have transplated themselves to such shores.

  • Michele

    While what you say is true re the few millionaires in Lewisham or anywhere else it’s still the case that tax on such estates would be enough that the £30k earner would likely need to sell (to enable paying up).
    I’d imagine EM is referring to those working just across the river from your example and who’re currently well able to hide their earnings and investments overseas, trusting that their heirs (eg: progeny of stockbrokers) will find the map …..

  • Anonymous

    Think Alastair you should, with lack of time, update the comments posted on your latest blog thread, and get around to the older ones when you have more time, apart from my ongoing poetry from a year ago, of course….. : )

    HTH – hope this helps, for Michele… : )

    Will I push it to a thousand before xmas and his reindeers? hmmm, you never know. No doubt Paddy Power are taking bets as we speak, maybe….

  • Anonymous

    Ed Balls they have in their sights, with their mates LibDems saying they couldn’t possibly do a coalition with Labour if he is still around in 2015. The fecking LibDem fickle bitches – they can’t see what shit they are in, can’t they? They are nuts, totally.

  • Anonymous

    Just posted this comment in this clip; I quote meeself,
    “Need to sort out railfares – they should be subsidised or something. How much to Penzance!!!!”

    Come on Dave, do something about it, or is Cornwall your own personal holiday place, only for your types, Rock like? Don’t think the Cornish like it much, to tell you the honest truth, Dave.

  • Anonymous

    ACH! might as well post the classic which I hope will happen in 2015, to Dave, rather than the otherway around from Hal, if you get what I mean, via the marvellous Stanley Kubrick, who couldn’t stand these Dave Cams types, I have heard, especially with LibDem pods…

    Open the pod bay doors please Hal!

  • Anonymous

    My two latest political conclusions, for your critique:
    1. I believe in education for all social classes, and for all ages, ie older people who lose their jobs, or who have the potential to educate themselves for more productive jobs. The question is how much should we subsidise. Is the current system correct where we provide the same subsidy to someone doing media studies as to someone doing media studies? Well maybe it is between those two… but what about between those and the kids who don’t get to go to uni? I think we should subsidise education, but only up to whatever level we can do so for all kids. So either we do it to 16, 18 or 21, but as soon as it becomes optional, the student should be on their own. So I believe in tuition fees, though I would use a more market based approach.
    2. It is now blatantly obvious that the left backed the miners, when the left really was the left, and fair play to them. The modern left does not, and would not have, backed the miners. They would rather see those men out of work than cause a bit of pollution. There is logic to both arguments in separate. But why does the right allow the left to pretend to be on the side of both! Its now quite obvious that the optimum strategy for the right would have been to wait a couple more years, when markets would have put more pressure on the mines, and the eco-loony-left was in fuller swing – then the right should have set the miners versus the eco warriors. In the same way that it was better when Iran was fighting Iraq than when we had to fight both.
    Coal is now profitable, Australia, Poland, America and plenty of other places are making good money out of coal mining – all those who supported the miners, would they now support reinventing coal mining in this country? Would they bollocks. If labout had been in power in the 80s and decided to close the mines for environmental reasons, all the middle class lefties would have swarmed over the mines. Thats a fight I would have kept the police out of, cos I’d love to see the real left miners kick the crap out of the trust fund left eco warriors.

  • Anonymous

    OK, so they did it, be prepared by saturation media-like coverage tomorrow, with the inane game of golf, and the Ryder Cup, a bigger comeback than Lazuruz or something they will be saying, no doubt,

    What do you say about this, Jonathan?

    Check out the leggy poshed voiced english blonde lady at the end in that vid. I would, smash it, for Wales.

    But well done lads, I suppose, a remarkable victory and all that, as said in various nineteenth cretinous plastered holes around the country as I speak. Give me strength…. No doubt Lineker and his mates is in one of them hovels at the moment, Alastair. As my great-uncle the farmer said once, or twice, “Golf? – waste of hundred acres of good farming land”.

  • Anonymous

    Funny peculiar this, that it should come out exactly now, ey?

    Fucking masonic arseholes – you are more see through that a cunting glasshouse! Pricks! And you MI5 Tory idiots too! ‘King brit prats, and waste of brit fresh air! Just fuck off with your fun and games.

    Excuse the language, but at times it does draw attention, to these spare parts who are not true brits. Perverted they are, when things are simple – you are either a bloodsucking idiot or your not. Might as well post Thomas More, relatively – for Wales, Richard?…

  • Anonymous

    Funny peculiar this, that it should come out exactly now, ey?

    Fucking masonic arseholes – you are more see through that a cunting glasshouse! Pricks! And you MI5 Tory idiots too! ‘King brit prats, and waste of brit fresh air! Just fuck off with your fun and games.

    Excuse the language, but at times it does draw attention, to these spare parts who are not true brits. Perverted they are, when things are simple – you are either a bloodsucking idiot or your not. Might as well post Thomas More, relatively – for Wales, Richard?…

  • Anonymous

    bluddy arsehole disqus, this Thomas More and A Man for all Seasons,

    Fuming I am, the twats have done it again, in their available powers try to make Labour’s party conference tinged, out of total proportion and timing. September 2013 Brookes trial – what a complete joke, as if hoping we will and the media forget it’s reason, as no doubt we will. Twits.

  • Dave Simons

    The media luvvies are still giving him a ride. Can you imagine if Gordon Brown had been on a US chat show and had been unable to say what the words ‘Magna Carta’ stood for? Bear in mind that the Magna Carta is on display in the House of Commons and is introduced to people on all public tours. The media would have ripped Gordon apart and continued ripping him apart for long afterwards. One or two people on this blog would have done the same. Can you imagine Andrew Marr grilling David Cameron about the Tory party being in hock to big business? What strength David Cameron has is in image and soundbite and that’s where most of the media luvvies live and breathe. As for the real world outside – that’s where the plebs are.

  • Richard

    “A millionaire is an individual whose net worth or wealth is
    equal to or exceeds one million units of currency. “

    Please do not patronise by saying what you “ imagine what he
    means is…..”. He is either being ignorant or divisive. He is almost certainly
    a millionaire: he is appealing to the pedigree Labour core voter, born by
    malice out of envy!

  • Liberalreform

    How about appealing to the masses like all politicians attempt? They, all 3 parties, are guilty of unfulfilled ‘promises’. Milliband’s kicking some billionaires/millionaires ain’t going to get people working is it. It’s their normal tactic, tax and spend and sadly they seem to constantly miss the point that someone somewhere has to produce something for them to be able to tax. Before you know it, the salt tax will be back or maybe the window tax…..

  • Liberalreform

    I agree with you but how do you mean? Are you going to vote for an alternative party or withdraw altogether from the process?

    Our supposed democracy is no such thing and is currently being run for the benefit of a few ‘select’ individuals including the bankers, politicians and civil servants.

    You know my views re. the EU but really our lot are as bad!

  • Anonymous

    Think my great-uncle was thinking of a nine hole link there. Must be a couple of hundred acres for eighteen, plus the clubhouse, plus car park, plus sheds with bar, for the poor geezers that cut grass and water.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent speech by Ed Balls. And interesting across the Atlantic speech/philosophical probing by this fella just now, Prof…., oh, he’s finished, what was his name again? Very good it was by that Prof. Quite different for a Labour conference, ey? Good move.

  • Gilliebc

    @ Liberalreform, I haven’t quite decided yet tbh. I certainly would never again vote for any of the LibLabCon parties. UKIP may be worth voting for. But the system is weighted against them or any other smallish party. Someone elsewhere, recently wrote that UKIP is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Conservative party! I’ve not been able to verify that as yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Because it’s all about keeping up the pretence that we plebs have a choice and a say in things. We don’t. And more and more people are becoming aware of that.

  • I don’t have a TV so I am following reports on the Labour conference on Radio 4 mostly.

    Ed M. sounds very solid and like someone who knows what he’s doing. This is a big change from two years ago when he was quite hesitant and unsure of himself. He does not have the media love that Cameron enjoys. However I think that a lot of the media has increasing respect for him because he has been through so much media negativity and he is unscathed. Cameron would never have survived the media negativity which was directed at Ed M.
    I like that Ed. M. referred to the post-war years. It was a good reminder that our society can be very good at being a community and having a co-operative approach. We receive so much of the poisonous anti-society ideas of the Conservative party, so good for Ed. M. to counter this.

  • Anonymous

    oops, a pic of said vid above,

    clickable pic that is, hopefully…

    that’s better, innit mun? Take it in good humour Carlo, and your holiday home down by here is safe, as within my limited powers I will strive to till the end of time to do, so don’t worry butt, you have my word. When is Kate coming down next, both, perchance? : )

  • Anonymous

    Oh yes, Prof Michael Sandel of course,

    Excellent interesting bloke, from across the pond.

  • Anonymous

    By the way, Ed Miliband, you easily can be the Captain Kirk here, I can see it now, to Ed Balls’ ummm, Spock/Scotty character, as here, depicted,

    OK, Balls is more like, at the other extreme, this, Captain Ed M,

    It’s a funny ol’ World, ey Capt. Ed M? Or should I say Worlds? Human form? Tory’s? Invading the minds of LibDems, curiously? does need investigation, Balls…. : )

  • Anonymous

    Think certain clothed eared won’t know what “smash it” means, new in the modern context. It means “shag”.

    It is a young modern context talking term by rich these years young footie players ask each other, when they talked to a young filly noticed met, by the others, the night before, and asked the next morning when putting their footie boots on at training, at next morn, “Did you smash it?”.

    Get it? oh I give up!

    Oh yes Richard, if I was anywhere near that blonde leggy lady in that Jonathan Meades golfing pisstaking vid, I would definately smash it, oh bugger me and call me auntie, I would!