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.

Follow Gary Gibbon on Twitter

Tweets by @garygibbonblog

9 reader comments

  1. dave says:

    why do you find it incredible that he can speak for 20 mins without the aid of a script to read from? All over the country there are theatres with actors doing 90 min plays every night without the aid of a script. Comedians regularly speak unaided for up to 2 hours every night on tour – and yes its the same every night… Given that Millibland is an educated man its not beyond the realms of phantasy that he could learn a 20 mins speach by heart… is it. After all if he’s going to run the country then he’s going to have to do a lot more than that!

    1. ommadawn says:

      He actually spoke for over an hour in front of live TV cameras. No mean feat for somebody who isn’t a professional actor. Oh, and comedians don’t normally aspire to want to run the country unless you count Cameron, Osborne and Clegg.

    2. ommadawn says:

      He actually spoke for over an hour in front of live TV cameras. No mean feat for someone who is not a professional actor. Oh, and comedians do not usually aspire to be leaders of the country unless you count Cameron, Osborne or Clegg.

    3. Andrew Dundas says:

      You’re correct, it is possible to recite that 75 minute speech from a previously memorised script. But it is still quite a feat to do so. You should try doing it yourself sometime.
      Perhaps it’s not a ‘fantasy’ with media like ours, that voters have been conditioned to prefer personalities ahead of policy?

  2. Philip Edwards says:


    Words, just words.

    Nothing here. Move on.

  3. Yorkshire Lass says:

    Dave – you have omitted teachers and lecturers who also do the same thing.

    1. ommadawn says:

      No, educating is not about giving a speech. It’s about interacting with students and giving them opportunities to respond to your teaching so that you can asses their learning. Also, the world press is not normally watching as you perform.

  4. David Barratt says:

    Labour in power again. The answer is more Balls and more financial Balls Ups

  5. Janice Clark says:

    I thought he was inspirational. Why is there the expectation that our politicians; leaders; the PM have to be charismatic orators- smooth operators? Surely we are done with the spin and schmooze – What we need is honesty and a desire to heal the growing wound that divides our nation – the wound that the Coalition has caused by making the rich richer and us others poorer and excluded. Ed is about bringing the excluded in from the cold and as he says bringing us all together as one nation. We need to be rid of the Toffocracy that is destroying our services – the NHS etc – services that are the envy of the world.

Comments are closed.