Last word on that speech
As one says after a trauma, there is no need to dwell. So let us move on from Ed Miliband’s speech. But first let us note Daniel Finkelstein’s excellent column in The Times (pay wall).
The Fink tells a story of 10 years ago:
In 2001, standing as a candidate in a marginal seat and with days to go until the contest was over, I was ringing up undecided voters to see if I could give them one final push our way. “I’m not going to vote for you,” said a woman in Rayners Lane. “I can’t stand William Hague’s voice.”
Bristling a little, because I worked for the party leader and admired him, I responded: “Well, if you don’t mind me saying so, that’s not much of a reason to cast a vote.” Straight back came the answer: “Actually, I do mind you saying so. That’s my reason. And it’s my vote.”
As Finkelstein says, it is superficial to note that a lot of voters do not think that Ed Miliband is up to being prime minister. Superficial, but unavoidable.
After the Opposition leader had finished speaking yesterday, a Downing Street adviser said to me: “The problem they will have with the news broadcasts is that all the clips of the speech will have Ed Miliband in them.”
There is a question of substance as well. Ed Miliband is too left-wing, says Finkelstein:
I don’t believe that Mr Miliband is very left-wing, just that he is a tiny bit too left-wing … He is reasonable and moderate, but he is also firmly a social democrat, steeped in the writings of the Left, accepting much of its analysis and regarding equality as his priority. And so, inevitably, he will shift the party to the left.
And Finkelstein does not accept the line from Miliband’s spin doctors that the centre of British politics has moved to the left as a result of the financial crisis.
Of course, Finkelstein is a Conservative. But he is right, and there are Labour people who agree.
One Labour MP asked after the speech: “How the hell can he take on vested interests in banks and business if he can’t even take on – if he capitulates to – the vested interests in the party, the unions? Ridiculous.”
“For the first time in my life,” said a lifelong Labour activist and party worker, “I listened to a Labour leader and thought, I’m not sure I’d want to work for you.”
Right. Back to my policy of not saying any more about the Labour Party until 2014.
Photograph: Jonathan Hordle / Rex FeaturesTagged in: ed miliband
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