Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ed Miliband talks a good fight

Ed Miliband’s use of the phrase “new generation” ran into double figures in his first speech as Labour leader at the party’s conference today. The main thrust of his address to his immediate audience and to the country at large was that a clean break was being made with the previous Labour regimes of Iraq-stained Tony Blair and economy-tarnished Gordon Brown.
This was not an occasion for policy announcements. Ed got the message across about the need for a new beginning after Labour’s disastrous election defeat in the spring. To that end his speech was competent.
It remains to be seen if he shows the same steel challenging David Cameron in the House of Commons, he displayed in out foxing older brother David Miliband for leadership of the party.
David was the natural successor to Brown and refused to challenge the incumbent prime minister fearing he would split the party, despite it facing an almost certain election rout. He was encouraged to bide his time by Ed among others.
There seems to have been a tacit understanding between the two that Ed wouldn’t oppose his brother’s bid to lead the party in opposition.
But Ed stood and won helped by a campaign, which dumped on Brown and with crucial support from the unions. Neither course was not open to David, who had held the important post of Foreign Secretary when in government.
In the interests of democracy it is important that Britain has a strong opposition in Westminster because we have a Tory/Lib Dem coalition in power that no one voted for – and tore up their election manifestos to assume office.
Warring brothers - Cain and Abel, Esau and Jacob, Romulus and Remus, Noel and Liam - are the stuff of legend. Whether David stays or quits the Shadow cabinet, the British political scene has its own sibling drama.
Many listening to Ed Miliband today must still whether the wrong brother had been voted to the top job. The first test Ed must pass is to show he isn't a union puppet.
He must stand up for welfare of the public at large when strikes are threatened, as the unions confront public sector redundancies.


  1. I have a theory. Ed stood for leader because he, like everyone else, assumed David would win easily, and wanted to be given the number two job of Shadow Chancellor. It was important to him, that, as always having been the kid brother, he had to show that he had a strong following in the Labour Party and was not going to be given the job because he happened to be David's brother. And he wanted to make sure that David didn't feel he had to give Ed Balls the job of Shadow Chancellor to show that this wasn't a case of nepotism. In other words it was important to him to come second.

    So he stood...and, when the votes were counted, he realised he'd accidentally ruined his brother's career.

    He might also, I suspect, have wrecked Labour's chance of getting back into government for a decade.

    Ray Connolly

    PS Wasn't there something slightly North Korean about seeing a former minister, who voted for the Iraq war, applauding when Ed said it had been wrong, simply because he was now the leader of the party and she was therefore supporting him?

  2. Ray,
    Firstly, I welcome the contribution from such a distinguished journalist as yourself to my blog. I was reading your website www.rayconnolly.co.uk this morning and I am already spreading the word about your enovel The Sandman.
    Your scenario of Ed Miliband's selection reminds me of how I think Boris Johnson became London mayor. The Tories never thought he could beat Ken and defeat might clip his wings. But he won and Boris can claim he is the only Tory leader in town with a majority from the electorate.
    Harriet Harman's fawning over the new leader was indeed stomach-churning. GC


What do you think? GC