Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Macho Miliband gets scary - he’s the Terminator, with the eyes of Ken Dodd

It lurched at times  from fireside chat to something akin to a rap  to a revivalist sermon

Share
Related Topics

Hasta la vista, Dave baby. That wasn’t quite how he put it. But something had clearly happened during the 48 hours since Ed Miliband disavowed any claim to be “macho.” We were invited to join him in an hour-long transformation from geek to Terminator. If the Tories “want to have a debate about leadership and character, be my guest”.

In fact, he’d already shown what a tough guy he was. Standing for the leadership in the first place – “really hard for my family” as he delicately put it. Taking on Rupert Murdoch. Saying no to “the rush to war” in Syria. And once in government? The energy companies are “not going to like” a two-year price freeze “but they have been overcharging people for too long.” Greedy developers? “Either use the land or lose the land.” Bring it on!

He repeatedly addressed delegates as “friends”. Which after a speech studded with four standing ovations, they seemed to be.  Abandoning the teleprompter again freed him to wander the stage in what lurched at times from fireside chat to something akin to a rap based on endless variations of the mantra “Britain can do better than this” to a revivalist sermon.

“Friends, friends, let us hear the voices of young people that haven’t been heard for a long time.” This turned out not to cue a choir of surplice-clad teenagers singing spirituals but a more prosaic pledge to give votes to 16-year-olds.

Odder was when, approaching the radioactive passage on party reform (dressed up as a means of achieving mass party membership rather than a way of getting the union barons off the party’s case), he joked: “Here is the bit you have all been looking forward to.” And rolled his eyes in a way that fused Mr Bean with Ken Dodd.

But all in all, pretty good. Unexpectedly personal on the Scottish referendum, he cited Cathy Murphy – “Friends, Cathy is with us here today” – a Glasgow Labour delegate who had had life-saving surgery in a Liverpool hospital. If this stopped just short of “Scottish independence kills”, the delegates loved his “I don’t want Cathy to become a foreigner in the United Kingdom”.

He even dressed up his new tough immigration policy in conference-friendly terms, castigating gangmasters and rogue landlords exploiting foreign workers.

So this was the new “Make my day” Ed Miliband. Deriding the “divide and rule” tactics of Cameron’s Australian attack-dog strategist, he told the PM: “You can tell your Lynton Crosby it might work elsewhere, but it won’t work here.” Given what Crosby will be throwing at him come 2015, he’d better be right.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week  

Burma will regret shutting its eyes to the fate of the Rohingya boat people

Peter Popham
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor