Ed Miliband's big speech had echoes of Cameron in opposition. And that's no bad thing

This might in future be seen as the moment when Labour gave people something to vote for - and not just against

Share
Related Topics

Five years ago, with poor poll ratings, and facing the prospect of fighting an election against a popular incumbent David Cameron took to the podium at the Tory party conference in Blackpool.

Without notes or an autocue he outlined his personal vision of what a Conservative Government under his leadership would look like. “Today I want to make a speech about why I want to lead our country,” he said. “I am afraid I haven't got an autocue and I haven't got a script, I've just got a few notes so it might be a bit messy; but it will be me.”

With hindsight that speech changed the political weather. Gordon Brown bottled his plan to call an early election; Cameron was given breathing space to redefine the Tories and Labour lost power after 13 years While the parallels are not exact Ed Miliband’s speech in Manchester today may just have pulled off a similar trick. Miliband was unrecognisable from the awkward, stiff and slightly odd figure who addressed the Labour conference last year.

Without notes or an autocue Miliband was in turns confident, funny and impassioned. The speech had a clear ideological theme running through it - but its language was accessible and surprisingly passionate. When he stated that “inequality matters” you knew he meant it and you knew what he meant. Stealing the rhetoric, if not the ideology, of ‘one nation Conservatism’ Miliband set out what a future Labour Britain might look like – if not the exact policies Labour proposes to get there.

He promised to create a ‘one nation’ economy where, he said, “those with the broadest shoulders would carry the greatest burden”. He said he would promote a one nation business model where companies would be discouraged by law and regulation from putting short term profits ahead of employee rights and long term growth. And he promised a one nation education policy - subtly shifting Labour’s position from promoting universities to help those who don’t go to university at all.

Labour, and in particular Mr Miliband, still have an electoral mountain to climb if they are to win outright in 2015 – despite the current polls. But there was a sense today, for the first time, that Mr Miliband now has a coherent ideological strategy to get there – onto which policies can be added later. And, like David Cameron in 2007, he succeeded in fusing a picture of who he was with vision of the kind of Britain he wanted to create.

It was a powerful message, well delivered, which may in future be seen as the moment when Labour gave people something to vote for - rather than just against.

Read Amol Rajan's verdict on the speech here.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition