At the Labour Party Conference in Manchester yesterday David Miliband spoke about Labour, the recent past, the future, the leadership contest and paid tribute to his brother the New Leader of the Party. Today it was the turn of Ed – the one who won – to give his first speech.
Ed Miliband the new leader of the Labour Party is intent on rebooting, refreshing and reinvigorating Labour. His was a speech that felt much more personal and he movingly told the story of their parents who came here from Europe having escaped the Nazis to find freedom and new opportunities on these shores. He spoke of the historical achievements of Labour and the more recent successes too. Things that are easy to overlook after losing an election. He pinned the future hopes of the party on the what he believes to be the inherent Optimism that that brought the post World-War II Labour Party to create the National Health Service and Welfare State, a belief in progress and equality. He drew a line under “Old Thinking” and also under the era of “New Labour” and while praising it’s achievements pointed out that ultimately it too became “the establishment”.
So yes – a really good speech different in style, personally setting out his vision for a “New Generation” emphasising the need for “New Thinking” and constructive opposition. He also joked about the silly references to “Red Ed” and suggested that the level of political discussion really needs to grow up. “New thinking” indeed!
With any project or franchise that is to be rebooted successfully it’s important to build on the things it got right and made it valued in the first place as well as jettison the things it got wrong and dragged it down – he seems to have that idea sorted. He sounds properly Leader-like, and believably real and human too. Let’s hope he can really helm the party and turn the good stuff up to 11 before the next election. because as he suggested – if the Labour Party cannot provide a progressive alternative to the government there is no-one else left to.