Ed Milliband is not the greatest political speaker of his generation, by quite a long way, but I thought his performance today showed that he''s improving fast.
I felt he overdid the opening bonhomie, with references to his wife and
sons, but perhaps it gave him a chance to overcome his nerves. It
sounded as though a speechwriter had written "icebreaker" at the top of
the sheet, and then they'd decided how to fill a couple of minutes with
family-friendly welcomes, like the father of the bride at a wedding.
Once he was into the speech proper, he aimed a few shots at Nick Clegg,
but the audience were slow to pick up the pace. Even though the speech
was short on policy, there were several clear themes. Firstly "New
bargain". He used the phrase a dozen times throughout, and delivered a
fine piece of anaphora in his closing remarks;
"The fight for a new bargain. A new bargain in our economy so reward
is linked to effort. A new bargain based on your values so we can pay
our way in the world. A new bargain to ensure responsibility from top to
bottom. And a new bargain to break open the closed circles..."
A secondary theme was the "predator and producer", where he likened the
bankers in general (and Fred Goodwin in particular) to the former, and
manufacturing industry, like Rolls Royce, to the latter, No prize for
guessing which he preferred.
Thirdly, there was the "closed circles" at the top of society, a clear
reference to the backgrounds of much of the current cabinet. He linked
this to tertiary education, though I'm not entirely sure what he meant
by a "competitive university"
Overall, I think it's the best speech he's delivered so far as Labour
leader. He rallied the faithful with "You can't trust the Tories on the
NHS", and the audience warmed to him as the speech went on. Competent
but not brilliant, with no obvious gaffes.
I'll give him 7 out of 10.