A small step for Labour, a giant leap for Ed Miliband

2 Oct 2012

Go on, be honest, it was better than you thought. Ed Miliband's speech at the Labour party conference in Manchester today was an impressive performance, if only due to the fact that the Labour leader spoke without notes or prompts from an autocue.

Miliband successfully got the message across that Labour intends to look out for the 'forgotten 50%' of students who do not go onto university education, and he repeatedly stressed the image of Britain working together under the slogan of 'one nation'. However what it had in appearance, it lacked in policy detail. Clearly, Labour intend to fight for power at the next general election and in doing this they realise that drastic changes are needed, but there was little in Ed Miliband's speech to suggest how Labour propose to go about that.


Then again, policy detail was not the aim of this speech. Manifesto promises can wait until later. Instead, Labour wanted to portray Mr Miliband as a worthy and credible candidate for prime minister, someone who the nation could connect with on a personal level. The intention was to answer the question of who Ed Miliband really is - his background, his core principles and to demonstrate what his party stands for. 

In this, he succeeded. He came across as a likeable fellow, chatty and humorous, if perhaps a little geekish. Ultimately, there are too many people who do not know that Ed Miliband is the Labour leader, let alone have an opinion of him. This needs to change, and today was his chance to reach out to the electorate and provide comfort to the undecided voter, respectively he took it. Appealing to those who had voted for the Conservatives in the last general election, he said that he understood why some voters had left Labour in 2010. In saying this out loud, he may have won a few back.

Overall, Ed Miliband proved to the nation that he is no joke and instead a credible candidate for prime minister. Attacking the Tories with the line "I went to a comprehensive school" was, perhaps, a little week considering he also attended Oxford and Harvard. However, in broader terms it was a job well done. After such a confident performance in Manchester, it looks like Miliband is here to stay as the Labour leader and he will live to fight for the party in the run up to 2015. It was a step in the right direction for Labour, and the Conservatives will need to start thinking of what their focus will be in their party conference next week. Following Miliband's speech, David Cameron will struggle to use the Labour leader as a weak and humorous tool in which to denounce the Labour party. As the party conferences have unfolded, predictions on who will be in power in 2015 have become increasingly more and more debateable. Who will be governing come 2015? I couldn't call it.

By Emily Stacey

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