Political Promise

An Evening with Ed Miliband

In Conor Campbell on August 7, 2010 at 8:37 am

By Conor Campbell

Surrey Heath is Michaels Gove’s constituency, and in the recent election he increased his majority from 10,845 to 17,289. The Labour candidate Matt Willey received 10.2% of the vote, so it may seem a strange place for Labour Leader candidate Ed Miliband to give a speech and try and convince the few members of the area that he is the man to lead the party. With the small amount of votes that will be cast in Surrey it is either a poor use of valuable time or shows true dedication of behalf of the younger Miliband.

Ed Miliband was joined by two other gentlemen on the platform one representative for his brother David and one representing Andy Burnham. Seeing as Ed Miliband is the only one who has turned up in person I feel it may be unfair to try and compare the candidates on this basis so instead I am purely going to focus on Miliband junior and inform on the impression that he makes.

Ed’s opening speech began with his recognition that although Labour did create a great deal of jobs, he realised those created were more-often-than-not too low paying to sustain a decent living. He suggested that this may have been due to Labour’s failure to bring enough new industries to move the UK. The next couple of ideals he brings up seem to have been picked off by not only his opponents within the party, but also those in the opposing party. He talks about his idea for a living wage, of more than £7 per hour, something which his brother David has also picked up on. Earlier that same day Vince Cable had gave a press conference talking about the idea of implementing a graduate tax: something which Ed also backs. Despite his backing, he highly doubts whether it will come to fruition under the current government.

The room is now allowed to present its own questions and as the night progresses, Ed seems to remind me of the actor Ray Romano, from Everyone Loves Raymond. I’m not sure if that work in his favour, maybe YouGov can do another pointless poll to find if it does. He attacks the ConDem’s decision to pull the money from the Sheffield developments, explaining its short-sightedness and attacks the ridiculous system of charging the banks a levy only to hand it back in a reduction in corporations taxes. He proposes a larger levy on the banks, transaction taxes and touches on the subject of a separation of retail and investment banking. All very pleasing to the left wing ear!

He also puts forwards the support of Ken Clarke’s idea of discussing the cost of short term sentencing and says he was opposed, and still is, to ID cards. Strangely this part impressed me the most, not the actual ideas, but seeing someone who is prepared to admit to a good idea from the opposition. Just because we are the opposition we don’t need to oppose for that reason. We need to be mature and reasonable enough to accept when we are wrong. Despite my support for Gordon Brown, I often felt admitting he was wrong was not his strong point. We need a leader guided by his head and not his pride.

I was impressed was Ed Miliband. I have heard his ideas a thousands of times in sound bites and interviews so I was not looking for any new policy to win me over. I simply wanted him to prove his skills as a speaker. Tony Blair won many a fan through his ability to talk to the voter, and in the TV debates this year sadly Gordon only won votes from those Labour already had. Ed is a very good speaker, he has a very witty sense of humor and for me has a sense of humility which is needed not just for a Labour leader, but any kind. I am still yet to decide who gets my much coveted vote, but Ed Miliband certainly did himself no harm on this performance.

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