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Daily View: Verdicts on Ed Miliband's party conference speech

Clare Spencer | 08:44 UK time, Wednesday, 28 September 2011

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Political bloggers give their verdicts on Labour leader Ed Miliband's speech to the party conference.

George Eaton says in the New Statesman that Mr Miliband pinpointed Britain's woes with laser accuracy but struggled to identify solutions:

"This was a remarkably policy-light speech, with the most memorable policy - a £6,000 cap on tuition fees - one that even he accepts is imperfect. He insisted that 'it wouldn't be responsible to make promises I can't keep.' But his critics will contend that Miliband still hasn't explained what the point of Labour is when there's no money to spend."

But former Labour director of communications, Alastair Campbell, says in his blog Mr Miliband didn't need to go into detail:

"What his speech does is put out the framework of an argument that his opponents can attack and on which he can elaborate as the detailed policy positions for the next election are developed. I heard one commentator saying that he had not set out a prospectus for government. Nor did he need to. What he did was set out an argument with which he feels totally comfortable, and which he believes many people will support as it is played out across a Parliament."

Similarly Caroline Crampton suggests in Total Politics that the speech wasn't meant to make an impression:

"Heavy on personal attacks (on Fred Goodwin, on Nick Clegg, on Rupert Murdoch), the speech contained a few cleverly-crafted lines, such as the idea of standing up for 'producers not predators' on the economy and the exultant question 'how dare they say we're all in it together?' But overall, this wasn't a speech we're supposed to remember. This is a party and a leader dug in for the rest of the Parliament, determined not to blow any political capital they might have too early so that they can be in with a chance in 2015."

Despite the critics claiming the speech was policy-lite, there were some policies outlined. One was to reward good companies. In the Financial Times' Westminster blog Jim Pickard wonders how you would define what a good company is:

"Miliband and his team know what a bad company looks like. It resembles Southern Cross, or Enron, apparently. This is obvious. And they know what a good company is: it manufactures things and invests for the long term.
"But what about the majority of companies - which are in a grey area of neither 'good' nor 'bad'; or a mix of both."

Labour supporter Owen Jones says in Labour List that he was disappointed cuts won't be disputed:

"He promised a future Labour Government wouldn't spend beyond its means, hinting the myth that the deficit was caused by spending too much, rather than a collapse of tax revenues and increased welfare spending because unemployment went up. He made it clear many of the cuts won't be reversed: a challenge to the labour movement to make a future Labour Government do just that. Those looking to a coherent alternative to the age of austerity - like myself - will be disappointed."

Back on to personality politics, in the Spectator's Coffee House blog Fraser Nelson disputes the picture Mr Miliband is painting of himself:

"He wanted to bill himself as an outsider, breaking open the closed elites of Britain. I thought this was really beyond the pale. Ed has been an insider since he was in nappies, born into Labour Party aristocracy. He is the very opposite of an outsider; he's marinated in establishment politics - a textbook case of what Peter Oborne has called the 'political class'. This doesn't make him a bad person, but it disqualifies him from playing the plucky maverick. David Davis was brought up in a council house and thought his way into the Conservative Party."

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