All aboard Good Ship Miliband; SKETCH Ed Miliband Sets out to Chart a New Course for the Labour Party Yesterday, as Political Editor Tomos Livingstone Reports

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 29, 2010 | Go to article overview

All aboard Good Ship Miliband; SKETCH Ed Miliband Sets out to Chart a New Course for the Labour Party Yesterday, as Political Editor Tomos Livingstone Reports


Byline: Tomos Livingstone

CAPTAIN Ed got the Labour ship out of harbour without major mishap yesterday, managing to steer a course between choppy waters on right and left and throwing plenty of old baggage from the decks as he went.

It was a decent enough start, serviceable without being mesmerising. Optimism was a smart theme to choose, at a time when people hear nothing but cuts, strikes and scandals coming from the political classes.

And he's clever enough to know that you only get one chance to escape the past and move on - even if you did write the last general election manifesto - and you need to be bold and be quick.

So while there was praise for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, there was plenty about how they were seduced by money, the US and the supposed power of the free market, to the detriment of the ordinary voter who cared about immigration, wages and school standards.

He didn't duck any of the big issues that he had to address - he even told those who call him 'Red Ed' to grow up, effectively, and warned the trade unions, his alleged puppet masters, that he would have no truck with unnecessary strikes (although there was plenty to cheer if you were a union baron, not least rights for agency workers and a living wage).

He addressed the deficit: the Alistair Darling plan, halving the deficit in four years, was a good starting point, he said, but left himself plenty of wriggle room, implying that he might back Ed Balls' idea of cutting more slowly to protect growth.

And there was some clever positioning, insisting he wouldn't attack the Tories when he agreed with them (on crime, mostly), while offering the Lib Dems an olive branch with some praise for Lloyd George and Beveridge and a promise to vote Yes in the AV referendum. …

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