David Blackburn

Opportunistic Ed stuttering for an authentic voice

Opportunistic Ed stuttering for an authentic voice
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The fightback begins here. To that end, Ed Miliband is being offered plenty of advice by the swords around his throne. The Mirror trails his speech, pleased that it will be honest about Labour’s failings and inaugurate Labour’s ‘golden generation’. Tom Harris hopes that Miliband will remember that New Labour was successful because it was the party of aspiration, not just the dispossessed.

Steve Richards wants Miliband to reach for Middle England by talking with an authentic voice, a simple contrivance that worked miracles for Tony Blair. However, we can add schizophrenia to psychodrama among Miliband’s afflictions. He was the author of a manifesto he immediately disowned, whilst refusing to concede that he bore responsibility for defeat. He was the minister who instigated a third runway at Heathrow, only to denounce the decision whilst groping for Labour’s green vote.

His opportunistic campaign was, in the words of John Rentoul, pandering to the party’s ‘every oppositional instinct’. He has no authentic voice. But that needn’t be a problem - having spent four months talking to the party and won despite their indifference, Miliband has the opportunity to address the country and should use this speech to re-fashion himself. I expect him to be more cerise than red, notably on the deficit.

Clichéd hyperbole is the stock of political journalism, but, as Steve Richardsasserts, today’s speech merits exaggeration: it's the speech of Ed Miliband’s life. The poll that puts Labour ahead of the Tories will be forgotten by this evening; the tone, content and tenor of his speech will define his leadership’s infancy, and how the coalition confronts the popularity and momentum that greet a new leader.