UK Politics

Ed Miliband - An historic speech?

Benjamin Disraeli
Disraeli promised to help working men - will Miliband do the same?

About 100 yards from where Ed Miliband will deliver his speech is one of the most significant sites in the history of politics in Britain.

The Labour leader will try to make that history come alive and to use it as his new rallying cry.

The site is Manchester's Free Trade Hall. Now the five-star Radisson hotel, it occupies the ground on which the Peterloo Massacre took place: a dozen campaigners for democratic rights were killed there and hundreds more injured in 1819.

It is the hall which saw the earliest campaigns against the protectionist Corn Laws (hence the name Free Trade Hall) as well as for women's suffrage. It is, though, another significant political moment which Mr Miliband will recall.

In 1872 a Tory leader, Benjamin Disraeli, spoke out in favour of helping "the condition of working men", of government intervention to do so and of taking action - controversial at the time - to heal the divide between rich and poor. His brand of Toryism became known as "One Nation".

I expect Mr Miliband to try to claim that mantle 140 years later (just, incidentally, as Tony Blair did when he was leader of the opposition).