Where do Labour stand after 2012 conference?

Ed Miliband

There were no gaffes, no defeats, no leadership rows, and no embarrassing pictures with bananas. No one to my knowledge walked out of the conference hall in protest. The security guards did not expel an aged delegate on spurious terror grounds.

No member of the Shadow Cabinet had their resignation briefed out at 3am in the conference hotel bar. And the party leader did not fall into the surf in front of the world's cameras.

So Labour will probably leave Manchester with a sense of job well done. Yes, there were no policies too but that was deliberate. For them, we shall have to cross our legs and wait for another day.

Instead, the Labour faithful depart from the north west confident that they have not elected a dud as their party leader. This week Ed Miliband answered the doubts within his own party over whether he has what it takes to lead them back to power. Many feared they had chosen an unelectable intellectual as their leader. But he gave a good speech that showed he has grown into his role, the gawky stiffness replaced by a more relaxed style that he has thus far kept private.

One party member put it to me like this: in 2010 the idea of Prime Minister Miliband appeared impossible. Last year it was improbable. This week it is now possible. They hope that next year it will be probable and then certain in 2015. As I noted in a previous blog, Labour now believe that the geek is blessed and he may inherit the earth. The voters may still need some persuasion but the party members are now onside.

So, as Harriet Harman said as she plagiarised the words of my esteemed colleague Nick Robinson, game on!

But, as the party conference lingered on unfathomably for another two days after Mr Miliband's speech, one or two doubts have cropped up. The limits of the new One Nation tag line have emerged. This phrase will now become a fixture but it is still not entirely clear what it means in policy terms. The danger is that it becomes a meaningless catch all rather than an analytical framework that shapes what a future Labour government may or may not do.

At the end of this week, Ed Miliband is safe in his job, he has shown he can rise to the occasion, he has raised morale in his party and they leave with a spring in their step as they hum the Red Flag (most don't know the words these days) and make their way home. But what he has not done is set out what he really would do in office.

As a senior Conservative source joked: "It was an incredible feat of memory for Ed Miliband to spend over an hour standing up there speaking without notes or text. It was an even greater feat to spend over an hour up there saying absolutely nothing."

James Landale Article written by James Landale James Landale Deputy political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    I find it very dispiriting that our society seems to place more value on a politicians personality and presentation skills than we do about the words they actually speak. David Cameron is very smooth in front of the camers but his body language tells you everything you need to know about him.He can't be trusted and his cronies are just as bad. Their eyes give them away. Give me Ed any day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    Same old New Labour. Don't forget that this man is committed to a politcal brand that presided over inflation busting council tax and fuel duty rises; a falling number of social houses; declining wages and jobs density; a low tax free allowance (actually more generous for landlords than the working man); the introduction of tuition fees and a widening of the gap between state and private schools.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    Labour is for everyone with the possible exception of a few very greedy pigs who don't know when to lift their heads from the trough
    This is a particularly intolerant & unpleasant comment.


    How can anyone be so naive & rude?

    We would be considered poor, yet we know that the ONLY chance we have for a future for our kids is to never let Labour anywhere near the economy again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    We are living in a dream world if this pre match changing room psyche up in Manchester will make any difference to the quality of players and captaincy we have in the Party.
    We can all believe we are super heros when we are telling our family and friends how gr8 we are but the reality these muppets we have leading the party will lead us to another defeat.
    Things would be different with David M!

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Enough of this 'Give us straight answers' nonsense.
    I can tell you, straight, what 2 + 2 equals.
    I can't tell you what I'm going to do tomorrow.
    I might cut the grass, but it might rain.
    We might have fish and chips for tea, but the queue at the chippie might be too long.
    I might buy a mobile phone, but the shop might have sold out.
    I might get up at 7, but I might not hear the alarm.


Comments 5 of 311



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