2 Oct 2012

Ed Miliband – the unscripted version

Ed Miliband constitently performs better in informal question and answer sessions without a script. He’s not as awkward as he can be in formal interviews, not as wooden as he can be in formal speeches.

His team hoped to capture the more relaxed, personable, more normal Ed M in today’s “no notes” appearance and they probably achieved that.

In content, this was an altogether less ambitious speech than last year’s attempt to boil down Sunday afternoon Dartmouth Park intellectual theorising about a ” new economy” – the Predator/Producer speech.

Instead, Ed Miliband used the umbrella term “one nation” as a verbal coathanger on which to sling a whole raft of policy positions. On the banks, and the “forgotten 50%” who don’t go to university, he tried to project an “on your side” personality.

He said he wanted to tell people all about himself (he did that last year as well but noone appears to have been listening so he’s told them again). He only name-checked his brother once – I thought for a moment he might’ve been an only child.

He at no point name-checked his political mentor, the man who brought him into Whitehall and eventually into the Cabinet – Gordon Brown. But he did talk about his parents’ journey from Poland to Britain quite a bit and how welcoming Britain had been to them. And in case you hadn’t got the message, he mentioned several times he’d been to a comprehensive school.

The informal, “no notes” delivery allowed him to joke more easily – I counted at least thirty laugh-lines . which his audience genuinely laughed at.

Will it change the terms of trade? His biggest problem is that people don’t think he is capable of making tough decisions and there was nothing really challenging Labour’s comfort zones in this speech. He still seems determined not to take a leaf out of the “kick your own people” Tony Blair playbook.

His other problem is that people aren’t sure what he stands for – this speech can only assist with that and help some people locate him. But the fundamental is that he had to look comfortable as a leader – give off a sense of reassurance, competence. And the “no notes” format has probably helped him make a serious bit of progress on that front.

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