'Weird, wild and manic': Red Ed's back and he's not boring
Miliband's speech was unashamedly socialist, but the Labour leader's style was 'fluent and compelling'
ED MILIBAND staked out "a series of positions avowedly to the left" during his keynote speech to Labour's annual conference yesterday. The return of "Red Ed" inflamed some of the conservative commentariat, but those more sympathetic to Labour suggested Miliband's calculated risk may pay off. By adopting positions that are socialist, but popular and populist too, he hopes to appeal directly to the voters he needs to return his party to power. Here's what six leading commentators are saying this morning:
Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian: Miliband reminded his party why they made him leader, says Freedland. His ability to deliver a "fluent, compelling set-piece speech" without the use of notes was impressive, but he also showed "a nice line in self-deprecation and is capable of altering his register from light to shade". Freedland says the content of the speech confirms that Miliband's aim is "not merely to win power the Blair/Brown way, within parameters set by Conservatism, but to redraw those lines, to shift the centre ground itself leftward".
Steve Richards in The Independent: Richards says the content of the speech was "substantial enough to outshine the audacious manner of the delivery". The Labour leader appeared "relaxed, engaging, conversational and yet at times passionate". The message at the heart of his speech was that when "markets do not work for consumers the government will intervene". That kind of talk will alarm those who prefer the UK's entrenched "light-regulation culture", says Richards, but will strike a chord with those who feel government "steps aside too often".
Max Hastings in the Daily Mail: Miliband's speech was "deeply depressing" says Hastings because it is bad for Britain that "the official Opposition should be in the hands of a consummate ass". The Labour leader delivered an address that was full of "evasions and outright untruths" when he tried to support his thesis that the UK has been "wrecked" by the Tories. It was, in short, "contemptible", says Hastings. "It served to confirm his [Miliband's] absolute unfitness for the leadership of his party — never mind that of the country."
Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph: Miliband's speech was "formidable", says Oborne. It achieved the twin aims of "entrenching his position as leader of the Labour Party" and laying the groundwork for a Labour manifesto with a "series of careful policy announcements". Better still, Miliband turned his back on "the empty and shallow political discourse of the Blair era, and started to talk in the way that ordinary people do, with long, coherent sentences, and only a handful of soundbites".
Matthew Parris in The Times: The policy proposals outlined by Miliband will "surely fall apart within days", says Parris. But after yesterday's speech no-one could call Miliband boring. The speech was "wild, it was weird, it was manic, it was a blast!" writes Parris. "As political theatre this was sensational. We witnessed less of a speech and more a kind of Labour rave".
Ben Brogan in the Daily Telegraph: The Tories should be wary of the new Miliband. He "is patently putting himself at the head of what he hopes is a public insurrection against the various centres of power and wealth. Energy companies? Hand it over. Property developers? Use it or lose it. Big companies? Pay more. Employers? Hire who we say. Is it any wonder that the analogies being suggested range from Stalin to Mugabe to Poujade." Brogan, the paper's political editor, says the test will be "whether the public respond to his rallying cry and say that, yes, they too want to stop the world and get off". ·