Posts Tagged ‘Ed Miliband conference speech 2011’

The Sunday preview: Ed Miliband’s conference speech

25/09/2011, 02:30:53 PM

by Anthony Painter

Something isn’t quite gelling between Ed Miliband and the country. He’s taken over a brand for which people have an affection but feel it has lost its way – think Marks and Spencer before Stuart Rose. We’re not talking toxicity here. Many are sticking with it for now – though sales have slumped – but they are not going to do so indefinitely. The question is how the new CEO can convince people that things are really going to change.

Miliband’s problem is not that he is necessarily wrong in his analysis. The problem is that he is right- in many respects. And yet, despite this, people are not saying: “I think that Mr Miliband has it right on inequality, the squeezed middle and responsibility”.

And maybe that’s part of the problem – people just don’t think and talk in that way. People generally have a short attention span when it comes to politics and easily switch off on the occasions they tune in. It they hear think-tank-esque gobbledygook when they do, they just tune out again. It’s fine for resolution foundation to churn out stacks of graphs on rising inequality and static median incomes – they do it extremely well – but it doesn’t make for great political communication. And if you want to make a point about responsibility in society, don’t talk about the causes of riots being “complex”, because most people aren’t going to listen. The responsibility prospectus has to be painted in primary colours, not pastels.

There is even something to be said for Ed’s argument that the centre ground has shifted. It has. People are offended and angry about wealth without responsibility at the top of society. They know that we are not all in this together and feel mocked by a prime minister who claims that we are.

The mistake in the analysis is to assume that the centre ground has become intrinsically social democratic. It’s more complex than that. It was such an assumption in the face of the global financial crisis that led Labour to make a social democratic argument for re-election. With Which only 29% of the electorate agreed.


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