Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Miliband's speech deliberately bland?

The BBC did not do the Labour leader any favours by trailing his speech to the Labour conference in Manchester as his last major speech before the election. In the event, it was surprisingly uninspiring, considering that Miliband has had several years to perfect the art of speaking to both the Labour faithful and to the nation. (Contrast this with Nick Clegg, dealt a worse hand, who so far has been better, conference by conference.) I am not the only one to have the same feeling of flatness (see Alex's Archives or Guido's digest of the commentariat) or that of having heard so much of it before (Guido lists the cribs).

More significant in my estimation was the number of policies lifted from Liberal Democrat thinking or even coalition aspirations. There was of course the plan to scrap "the bedroom tax" (but no measures to address the difficulties in the private rented sector, as highlighted in a comment on Alex Marsh's blog) though the major faults in this will be removed if Andrew George's Private Member's Bill passes. There is also the threat to freeze utility prices and a windfall tax on tobacco companies, both of which would easily be circumvented by the companies concerned (remember the Blair-Brown windfall tax?). These, and the bankers bonus tax, are so obviously full of holes that they can be quietly dropped if Labour should come to power. On the other hand, the determination to get a grip on the English NHS will find sympathetic LibDem ears.

I wonder whether the speech was deliberately not a rallying call, such as Gordon Brown used to deliver to such effect, but an olive branch to Liberal Democrats. Even if Labour becomes the largest parliamentary party after the 2015 election (extremely unlikely in my estimation) it would still need LibDem support to form a government. It would also help if LibDems could claw back some Conservative/LibDem marginal seats and for that to happen, Labour voters in those seats would need to be made aware of political reality.

1 comment:

Frank H Little said...

For dissection of Miliband's other clunky borrowings, see Caron Lindsay at