Fraser Nelson

The penny drops

The penny drops
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David Miliband is a tease. The speech he just gave was one of his best: it was self-deprecating, had gravitas, humour, and he spoke down to the Tories, telling William Hague what statesmanship was about. A monstrous conceit, CoffeeHousers may argue, but a Labour leader needs a bit of that; to make out that he's the real leader-in-waiting, up against lightweights. There was his trademark little bit of grit in the speech: he praised the troops, the Afghan mission and criticised Cameron for reducing British diplomacy to trade missions (Con Coughlin made the same point in a Spectator cover piece recently).

My point: that this was a measurably better speech than the one his little brother made on Saturday. And I'll bet it's better than the speech Red Ed will make tomorrow. This will be, for Labour, a very embarrassing fact - but a fact nonetheless.

As he spoke, I walked around the hall and looked at delegates' faces: the same look they had when listening to Blair's conference speech after he was knived. A look that said: 'what have we done?'