Political commentators are liberal with the term ‘the speech of his life’ but on this occasion they might just be right. Ed Miliband takes to the stage for the first time (well second actually – but first proper) this afternoon. This is his big opportunity to define himself beyond the party and to start re-shaping his caricature away from ‘Red-Ed’ and ‘Union-Puppet’. So, what might we expect?
1) David – He has to mention his brother, and I would have thought fairly early in his speech. To not is just to invite a press-storm. Chances are he will talk about both within the context of his family, and within the context of the leadership race. By the time the speech is repackaged for the news expect only to hear of David.
2) Unity – This has already been his watchword over the weekend and expect more of it this afternoon. History suggests the electorate are unforgiving of divided parties and he knows he only has a limited time to bring members and parliamentarians on-board.
3) Responsible Opposition – As a prelude to some difficult conversations within the party he will talk about the need to be a responsible opposition. Opposing where he thinks the coalition are wrong, but supportive and constructive where they agree.
4) The Unions – difficult one for him, but similar to the issue of David, to mention them is almost to invite more comment than he does. I think he plump for talking about Labour being the home of working men and women and responsible/moderate Union leaders being a force for good. I suspect Bob Crow will not get a look in 🙂
5) Change – a new generation. This is the key bit, and his ability to deliver a change narrative throughout the speech is central to its and his overall success. I suspect he will draw on his experience as Environment secretary – an issue he knows is popular amongst younger and lib-dem voters and use this. Either way – if he nails this message he is in with a shout.
So they are my predictions for later – reviews on both how accurate I have been and how good Ed has been will be posted later.