28 September 2011

Some quick reflections on Ed's speech

Van Patten has actually done a remarkably good and fair minded job on Ed Miliband's speech already, and I'm pushed for time, so I will just offer up a few "thunks" in the manner of BHappy:

1) delivery started well but fell off rapidly. I tweeted in the first 5 minutes of the speech that Ed was far more assured than last year, but that was only true for those first few minutes. After that, his pacing was glacial, and too often he sounded like he was reading the phone directory. I've seen Ed give some barnstorming speeches at places like the Fabians and Compass where he's spoken without notes, walking around the platform, and I think he should do that next time. As Cameron has shown, it's just a far more relaxed style of delivery.

2) there needs to be a proper investigation into what went wrong with the live TV feed. Apparently someone plugged a kettle in where they shouldn't have, it fused the electrics, and the whole thing went down. Why was no back-up available? And was it Blairite sabotage? Questions need to be answered.

3) the basic idea - that the current economic system was unacceptable - was sound, although it needs a lot of fleshing out.

4) nonetheless, too many concessions to the Tories. there needs to be an end to demonisation of benefit claimants, more commitment to reverse most of the ConDem cuts, and the commitment to sell off the banks is dangerous IMHO - it will just get us back to exactly the same problems we had in 2008. The problem at the moment is that Ed is reaching for a new broad vision - but on specifics he's still very timid. This will result in huge inconsistencies as we get nearer the election unless it's addressed.

5) The speech pissed the right people off. For example, if John Rentoul doesn't like what Ed's saying, he's definitely saying the right thing. Likewise Dan Hodges in the New Statesman.

6) Nice to see some attacks on Nick Clegg. Some commentators have said that Labour is focusing too much on hitting the Lib Dems and not enough on the Tories. I think it needs to hit both hard, but the Lib Dem vote is softer, and so hitting them gets more "bang for the buck". Remember that if Labour gets (say) 12% of the electorate transferring from the Lib Dems to Labour next time, while the Tory vote is unchanged, Labour wins the election by 5 percentage points. It's as simple as that. The Glib Dems are fair game, and emphasising that the only way to get a left-of-centre government is to vote Labour is exactly the right political strategy.

So: 7/10 for content, 4/10 for delivery. Not great, but a better average than your average Tony Blair speech (0/10, 9/10) or Gordon Brown (4/10, 2/10). Ed was also helped by the fact that the delivery of most of the other platform speakers this week has been even worse (Ed Balls and autocue: never the twain shall meet.) But yes, better delivery next time, please.

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