Following his game-changing ‘One Nation’ speech yesterday, Ed Miliband hosted a question and answer session with his party’s delegates. Another resounding performance would have no doubt, shaken the teacups at CCHQ.
A toothy, boyish smile accompanied a Q+A session peppered with well-received jokes straight off-the-cuff and even laddish football banter. The Ed Miliband we haven’t met yet, according to his more committed party members, certainly made his presence felt in the 65 minutes he spent astutely answering the pressing concerns of a conference eager to further remove the shackling husk that so often diluted his persona in previous occasions. The limp, insipid displays of PMQs were replaced with a strong performance of a man clearly seizing the initiative, the irking feeling those backing him must have felt in previous public shows was replaced with jubilation. There were even two ladies revelling in the previous day’s kiss a jovial Ed planted on their cheeks. ‘Flattery will get me everywhere’ he joked as the kissed delegate playfully reminded him of the moment. Yes, Ed, it will.
This was his chance to really hammer home the reasons his speech yesterday delighted and destroyed the red and blue halves of the country respectively.
The intuitive, in-touch, socially-aware, proud-to-have-gone-to-a-comp son of Jewish immigrants made displays that assured those spectating that he was in fact capable, in-tune with the concerns of the nation and, most importantly, prime ministerial.
He immediately set to work, dispelling both the Old and New Labour crusts to define his One Nation blueprint; a party to take on the vested interests a meek New Labour often flirted with; a nation that works for the ‘whole nation and not just the few’. He didn’t stop there; offering an olive branch to those Labour had ‘left behind’, acknowledging the failings of Blair and Co. In a veiled assurance to any doubters: ‘We are not going back to the 1980’s’.
It didn’t take long, six minutes in fact, for a familiar round of Tory-bashing to arrive and rev up the spilling half-circle of delegates waving ever-increasingly inventive objects in attempt to gain Miliband’s coveted attention.
A list of incompetence cut from the tongue like a harrowing list of casualties in an ill-fated battle of which the memory scarred a nation for a generation, the perpetrators Miliband simply addressed as ‘they’. The audience and those watching, wherever they were, including CCHQ and Number Ten were reminded of a burgeoning dossier of Coalition failure and feeble excuse: anaemic growth has been blamed on the Eurozone; the Jubilee, then, ridiculously, on the ‘snow’ of the previous winter. Many laughed, nobody could argue.
Sensing the mood, a jubilant Miliband, even more abundant in confidence than in his opening sentences, then scoffed at the Tory attempts to loosen worker’s rights as the solution, in part at least, to the economic woe of current. In a direct threat to a watching Prime Minister, Miliband demanded that he, quite simply, ‘get a grip’.
The Tories must have been reeling; Miliband’s ludicrous raid into entrenched Conservative party history was preposterously cheeky if not tactical sophistication. The adoption of the One Nation rhetoric of Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli delivered a head-fuzzying counterpunch to Cameron’s own plan of renewing his ‘compassionate conservatism’ brand at the Conservative conference. The Prime Minister’s ‘hug-a-hoodie’ hoodwinkery looks meek in comparison, that’s if anyone remembers it.
This natural rivalry of divided opinion will produce a fight employing all manner of dirty tricks; the theft of the One Nation mantra will have infuriated, and galvanised, Cameron, who is no absent student in the school of political blood-sport.
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