Ed Miliband wants voters to see a little bit more of the man he is this conference, and his speech today is expected to be very personal, giving even more vivid glimpses into the Labour leader’s life. He will draw on his own upbringing in the speech, pointing to his parents’ experience as Jewish refugees and the education he received at a London comprehensive.
Although this is being billed as the most personal speech Miliband will give, it’s not as though he hasn’t delivered speeches before about his identity. In his first speech as Labour leader in 2010, for instance, he told the hall that he wanted ‘to tell you who I am’ and described his parents’ flight to Britain in quite some detail.
In 2011, he told conference delegates in Liverpool about how his background had given him unique insight:
‘What’s my story? My parents fled the Nazis. And came to Britain. They embraced its values. Outsiders. Who built a life for us. So this is who I am. The heritage of the outsider. The vantage point of the insider. The guy who is determined to break the closed circles of Britain.’
He continued the ‘this is who I am’ theme in a speech in June of this year, saying:
‘This is who I am. The son of a Jewish refugee and Marxist academic. A Leeds supporter, from North London. A baseball fan. Somebody who looks a bit like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit. If spin doctors could design a politician, they wouldn’t design me.’
So today, Ed Miliband will expand on this identity even further. He is expected to say:
‘My family hasn’t sat under the same oak tree for the last five hundred years. My parents came to Britain as immigrants, Jewish refugees from the Nazis.