He's wowed his supporters and silenced his critics—but has the Labour leader made genuine progress?by Peter Riddell / October 3, 2012 / Leave a comment
Party leaders’ speeches should be judged both spatially and temporally. The general rule is that the further away one is in distance and time from the conference hall, the less impact they will have—for better or for worse. At the Labour party conference in Manchester, Ed Miliband undoubtedly enjoyed a triumph among Labour delegates and supporters, and even won grudging respect for his oratorical skills from normal critics. The one nation positioning was adept and, like early Tony Blair, irritating to Tories, while the one new policy announcement—the technical baccalaureate for 18-year-olds who aren’t doing A-levels—does address a real social and educational problem.
But I wonder how the speech will play in the Dog and Duck and how it will look in a month or a year’s time. Or whether anyone outside the political and media worlds will even notice, care or remember. Labour’s poll ratings and, indeed, the strongest applause lines during yesterday’s speech are less about Miliband and his party than mistrust and dislike of David Cameron and the coalition government.