Ed Miliband invokes British wartime spirit


Is Ed Miliband a Churchill or an Attlee?

That's the question I find myself asking as I arrive at Manchester's Midland Hotel, which Hitler had earmarked as his UK HQ in the event of a Nazi victory.

The Labour leader himself has decided to invoke Britain's wartime spirit at the start of his party conference in the city. His script for a public meeting on Saturday describes our current plight as "an economic emergency" and argues that:

"We will need the same spirit to overcome this crisis as Britain has showed in our gravest moments through history. The same spirit, the same determination, the same sense of national mission that there was as our parents and grandparents rebuilt Britain after the Second World War."

Ed Miliband has taken a brave decision to focus on character rather than policy in his third conference speech. Brave, because the personal polling (including some published helpfully by the Tories) makes pretty grim reading for him. In short, it declares him to be un-prime ministerial.

Stand by then for a speech long on personal narrative - the child of Jewish refugees, the brothers who learnt their values in an extraordinarily political home, the lessons of a privileged upbringing and a state education; long on broad vision - how re-building Britain depends on us really all being "in it together" as we were both in post-war Britain and during the 2012 Olympics; but short on detailed policy.

The Labour leader knows that some of his supporters fear that he may be unsellable and has taken to joking that no spin doctor would have designed a leader like him. There is, though, an inner confidence about the man fuelled by a sense that he's made many more right calls in the last year than his principal opponent.

He may also be recalling that it was the charismatic wartime leader who lost to the man derided for his lack of personality - the man of whom Churchill once joked that "an empty taxi drew up outside 10 Downing Street and Attlee got out".

It was the Labour man, as his successor may well remind us on Tuesday, who built the NHS, strengthened the welfare state and created the Arts Council even at a time when there was "no money left".

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    "Is Ed Miliband a Churchill or an Attlee?"

    That is some insult to Winston.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I have to say he is not a patch on Churchill, too vague wouldnt get a job as his butler, as for comparing to the poison drawf, he might just come out ontop there. Bevan made the NHS not Attlee and again it was done on borrowed money. Cripps the lisp in 1949 said we are only half as broke as what we were a year ago, when he meant in fact the country was twice as broke as in 1947.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    Ed is neither a Churchill or an Attlee, he probably does not know who he is ideologically, which would be the same as the Labour party in general. It helps to evoke Wartime spirit, it helps Labour to cross the political divide but he is not as strong willed as Churchill, nor does he have the confidence in his convictions as Attlee had. Labour need to be a real centre left alternative to Cam/Clegg!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    "problem system
    time for socialism"?

    Said, understandably, 'socialism tried'

    Truer to say skewered, in conflict between mistaken & mistaken, supposed practitioners warring with mixed-bag of alarmed democrats, plutocrats, mafiosi, & 'ordinary people' lacking 'material hope'

    'Commanding heights' should never have been 'for socialists'

    Rule is for Free People, knowing only as Equals

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Churchill could 'get things wrong', miscalculate & offend, well-meaning 'soldier for the future', often ahead in fractious march to enlightenment & democracy

    Attlee could 'get things right', reach for future, but matched Churchill's caution on faith, leaving without understanding of failure, his & ours, to make peace, claim democracy

    Miliband sees 'emergency': in mis-rule, Conflict of Interest?

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I don't see great value in the comparison, frankly.

    But if we're doing it, which it appears we are, I'd say that Ed is more a combination of the two.

    He has the seriousness, the quiet inner strength and dogged determination to do what he feels is right, the sense of moral purpose of an Attlee, mixed with a certain 'je ne sais quoi' that for the want of a better word we can call Churchillian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    “{simplistic comments about Ed} such incisive political commentary”
    Yes, that’s true, but in reality many swing voters make their decision based on the credibility of the leader, & Ed does lack credibility even with Labour voters & within his own parliamentary party

    Cameron also lacks depth & credibility & he’s unpopular but does Ed really offer enough to justify replacing him?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Mr Bean has more leadership qualities than EM, the sooner we remove him as head of the Party and get someone Labor voters can follow the sooner we will be back in power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Since we have no idea at all what Ed stands for it’s hard to judge him. What’s clear is that he lacks authority within the party which has hampered coherent policy formation, & Ed’s agenda is still limited to random & populist themes/slogans. That’s enough to hold a lead but it won’t win a GE. Ultimately Ed comes across as a student union leader & he will suffer as scrutiny intensifies

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Its impossible to compare the 2 historic leaders with what we get on offer today...

    Party leaders just read from a script, they are just the mouth piece , they promise us the earth when not in power , deny it when they get power... toe the line to please the backers...same story just a different colour rosette.

    Party Politics is destroying the UK

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Milliband is neither a Churchill or an Attlee. If he was more inclusive and joined with his brother and those other young lions there might be more than a chance of getting in power again to build a UK for all but as things stand he does not have much chance against a right wing press and anti socialist finance sector which is far more sophisticated now than in the nineteen forties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    He is neither. He is just another career politician who has rolled off the establishment production line who will maintain the political status quo regardless of what tag the media give him.

    Like his modern day contemporaries he is neither left nor right but sits somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum trying to be all things to all people.

    Nothing will change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The depth of the argument of the "Right" against Miliband seems to extend no further than personal "playground" attacks. eg

    . . . more like Elmer Fudd!

    More like Mr Bean - though he looks like a character from Toy Story.

    he's just a Wallace look a like

    All within the first 8 comments.

    You all must be so proud....such incisive political commentary.

  • Comment number 14.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Comparing this man to either of those great Prime-Ministers is just ludicrous!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells
    1 Hour ago

    . . . more like Elmer Fudd
    Now that's not a nice thing to say about our well respected prime minister who crawls on his knees to the USA

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    There is no longer any real difference in the major parties if you're not rich. This supposed crisis was caused by bankers and politicians working hand in hand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Can't say I think much of the article nor of the comments.
    It all adds up to a nothingness.

    Only one remark: it's never ever time for socialism.

    Off to something more interesting now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Ed Milliband seems like a decent enough bloke. He also seems just as interested in content as presentation.
    As I see it this is a distraction from the real issues. Firstly, the Labour Party itself and it's apparent abandonment of socialism. Secondly (and most importantly) the current economic system is the main problem and the root cause of most of the worlds injustices. Time for socialism.


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