Ed Miliband – Where has it all gone wrong?

by Ray_North on September 23, 2014

ed-milibandI’ve just checked back into the archives of this website and re-read what I wrote after Ed Miliband’s speech to the Labour Party Conference in September 2013 – blimey was I impressed. I wrote about he had moved me, about how he was speaking for my generation and then I pledged my undying allegiance to him as a leader and future prime minister.

And, I was right to – a year ago, Ed Miliband seemed to have got the analysis correct, and was starting to suggest that he was in a position, intellectually and politically to start offering solutions to the problems we face.

You’ll remember how a year ago, he spoke about how capitalism was broken and about how the failures of capitalism had lead to a fragmented country – his one nation Labour seemed to address that, and his promises about pre-distribution and hints about breaking up the privatised monopolies, or at least regulating them, properly, resonated.

Well, alas, I’ve just listened to most of his speech to the Labour Party conference today, and, sadly, I’m breaking up with Ed. I’m no longer pledging my cross for his box. Though, I’m not saying that I can’t be wooed between now and May, because, quite frankly, there are not many other fish in the sea.

Miliband’s speech was, as with the last two years, delivered without notes. Now, as someone who has written, delivered and listened to many many speeches in my various jobs over the years, I admire the ability of anyone to speak extempore for over an hour, but, orating is not a test of memory, you don’t get extra marks for being able to go off the cuff – and, although it’s designed to make the speaker sound fluent and natural, it can sound clunking and fragmented – and, I’m afraid that was how Ed sounded today. His lines were a bit obvious, his oratory and language a bit third-rate, and the delivery a bit slow and ponderous.

Now, I can forgive him that – not every one has the oratorical gift of Neil Kinnock or Michael Heseltine, but, a year before a general election, when you know that a majority of the electorate are unsure of your ability to lead, the least you can do is put a bit of fire in the belly, and alas, Ed Miliband’s delivery was flat.

Perhaps, this was because the content of the speech was so uninspiring, so predictable. He spoke about all these very nice very normal people who he’d met when he was being very nice and very normal and how he was touched by their lives – well, sorry, we’ve heard all this before, we’ve heard about Josephine the pub chef, and Gareth the IT specialist who can’t buy a house for his family; we’ve heard about the group of kids who feared for the future and nurse who was tired every night – and, I’m afraid that it is now a rather tired speech device that no longer rings true.

We also heard praise for the NHS and our armed forces and public servants – and how important they were and how Labour would protect them, and of course, we already knew that, but, somehow, it didn’t come across as being a particularly urgent desire.

And we heard how the Tories were the friends of the bankers and all that, and it’s all very well the Labour party conference clapping and cheering this – but, until, the piss taking about bankers is accompanied with promises to really regulate the City, then I’m afraid it doesn’t make me want to vote for you.

Then Ed Miliband, unveiled his six promises which he said he would address over a ten year period. Fuck me. How uninspiring is this – ten years! Six things! Talk about setting the bar disappointingly low.

And, though none of us would disagree with any of the six promises – more money for the NHS, more doctors and nurses and mid-wives, paid for by some kind of hypothecated tax on the tobacco companies, more apprenticeships and social housing. All very bland, I’m afraid, all very, well, all very Tony Blair.

There was no suggestion that Ed Miliband would seek to address the greed and failure of capitalism, nothing to suggest that Miliband would take on the big companies, nothing to suggest that Ed Miliband and Labour would create a society that was genuinely egalitarian in its opportunities and dynamic and inclusive in its structure.

I’m afraid Ed, that I want more. I’m afraid that in the last year, you’ve become boring and uninspiring. And, that’s bad news for all of us.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East September 23, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Vote Labour for a cut in child benefit. Not exactly Nye Bevan is it?


John Stone September 23, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Is Paul Dacre the most powerful man in Britain? Seems like everyone is terrified of what he’ll say.


Charlie East-West September 23, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Ed Miliband delivered a piss poor conference speech and it has now been confirmed that he forgot the section of his speech on the deficit and immigration.

A complete shambles. It is like a scene from The Thick of It.

Gideon and Cameron must be pissing themselves. In the space of a week they have escaped the break up of Britain, outflanked Labour on the West Lothian question, and now watched Ed M deliver his own political suicide note.

Game over.


Fionauk512 September 23, 2014 at 9:01 pm

We are going to end up with a Tory/UKIP coalition next year because Ex Miliband cannot grasp the nettle and come out strongly and definitively for anything that progressives can rally around. He is just not believable and has not covered himself in glory in Scotland which should be strong labour territory. The Green Party is going to mop up enough of the votes of the disillusioned, making the chance of Labour gaining enough to win debate able. Despite what we feel is the obvious choice for the benefit of the many rather than the few, the Torys look the most coherent and consistent. I think they are going to get away with it because Labour have been so godawful.

The Ex by the way is not a typo.

I hope I’m wrong.


Mike Killingworth September 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm

No matter how big a shambles Labour continues to make of things, there won’t be a Tory-UKIP coalition. The two Parties’ hatred for each other is probably greater than anything we have seen in British politics (the sectarian hatreds of the 6 counties being elsewhere) for a very long time, outside of the views the various Trotskyist groupuscules have of each other.

I now expect the Tories to get an overall majority, but if by any chance they fall short they’ll scrap the 5 Year Act and have a second election sharpish.


alx w September 23, 2014 at 10:59 pm

OK Ed,

you are not charismatic, we get that and understand it, you are never going to wow anyone. So that means instead you have to have real policies, a real agenda, you don’t need the rest. However if we are going to get this insipid status quo Labour positioning then we might as well have Tony Blair back, because the old warmongerer could at least rally the troops and deliver a handful of southern seats. Fell we have ended with neither a thoughtful leader willing to use his intellect and supposed ideals to sketch out a new contract for the UK, nor a slick political operator getting the last drop of publicity and blood form the tories. Time to stand aside and let someone make a last minute ‘exciting’ pitch for number ten. If the NHS is going to be the issue (Really guys, really?) then lets get Burnham to lead that fight,a s he has credibility and fire in his belly.


nino September 24, 2014 at 8:57 am

But we are still talking of a very narrow and very small number of people leading the Labour Party. Nepotism and in-breeding is biologically harmful and politically suicidal, or even a sign that it’s too late. On the European mainland right wing parties have made great gains by,of all things, stealing the clothes of the left – strikes, squats, speaking up for the weak and marginalised (as long as they are white europeans and not jewish or rom). Let’s hope that neither Ukip or anyone else is capable of igniting Labour’s dry grass. In the meantime, I hope the Labour rank and file as well as the unions suffer from panic attacks before it is too late.


Eddie Kaye September 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Last year (and the year before) we saw the other Ed M, this year his evil clone has been wheeled out, just in time to throw the advantage back to Cameron.

The most progressive idea? Not challenging the energy monopolies or banks, not challenging that those institutions are fundamentally un-capitalist (competition, anyone?), none of these – no, this guy comes up with the mansion tax!

An idea so riddled with holes that it is politic’s answer to Swiss Cheese, an idea so unworkable that even the Lib Dems have stopped harping on about it. All I can see it doing is harming those around the threshold and below. The super rich who would be charged it can afford it, people who bought a home in certain areas before the pricing went up would be squeezed. A lowering in regressive taxes such as VAT and a super tax on higher earners would give the economy stimulus it needs.


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