The timing wasn’t kind to Ed Miliband. Premonitions of a constitutional crisis “took the vim” out of Labour’s annual conference, says Janan Ganesh in the FT, and the most important speech of his career was “pushed off the airwaves” by the Dave Lee Travis verdict and Barack Obama’s statement about the Syria bombings, says Janet Daley in The Daily Telegraph. This may have “been a mercy”.
Miliband’s central theme was the principle of ‘Together’ as opposed to the Tory principle of ‘You’re on your own’.
The favoured model for this togetherness was ‘our brilliant NHS’, due to benefit from the mansion tax and a tobacco levy, but other than that there were “no insights or solutions into its endemic structural problems”.
It didn’t help that he forgot vital parts of his speech. He spoke for more than an hour without notes, but transcripts revealed that he had left out sections on plans to tackle Britain’s £95bn deficit and rising levels of immigration, says Matt Dathan in The Times.
Despite this, Miliband insisted that his speech was ‘all about the economy’. And yet Ed Miliband could be Britain’s next prime minister, says the Financial Times. In spite of the economic recovery, many Britons have seen scant improvement in their living standards.
The Tories are engaged in a “furious battle” with Ukip that may split the right-wing vote. Labour could enjoy a Commons majority even if it “scrapes just 35% of the vote”.
Since Miliband became leader in 2010, his electoral strategy has been unclear. There have been “hints of a sweeping reform plan”, but he often sounds as if he is content merely to shore up Labour’s core vote. This speech showed Labour is “playing it safe”.
Miliband “served up a string of fiddly policy gimmicks” which did nothing to reach beyond the 35%. The speech revealed his “indifference to business” and didn’t mention wealth creation.
Focusing on Labour’s core vote may be “just enough to carry him across the threshold to Number 10. But it does not amount to a serious programme for government.”